Weekly Bird Report | CAI

Weekly Bird Report

The Weekly Bird Report with Mark Faherty can be heard every Wednesday morning at 8:45am and afternoon at 5:45pm.

Mark has been the Science Coordinator at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary since August 2007 and has led birding trips for Mass Audubon since 2002. He is past president of the Cape Cod Bird Club and current member of the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee.

A Blizzard of Siskins

Oct 14, 2020
Mark Faherty

It was a birdy week at the Faherty household. Which is good, because I rarely leave the household. But the birding is so good this time of year, sometimes you don’t have to. A slightly tardy Scarlet Tanager visited my birdbath several times over two days, as did several Blackpoll Warblers and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. A Peregrine Falcon streaking by with prey last week became yard species number 140, while a sneaky Cooper’s Hawk stalked my birds more than once. But one flock of small, streaky birds I saw descend from the sky on Sunday is what I’d like to talk about. Because, folks, we are in the midst of a blizzard of siskins.

Mark Faherty

It seems like I say this several times a year, but right now is the peak-est of the peak of the birding year here on the Cape and lslands. And I really mean it this time. 

Mark Faherty

We are a weather-obsessed people – talking about the weather, prognosticating about the weather, complaining about the weather - so I assume you have checked the forecast for the next few days. But have you checked the BirdCast? Yes, there is such a thing, and it’s provided by your friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, as part of their quest to meet all of your birding needs. They are sort of becoming the Amazon.com of birding, but I digress.


Winter's Coming

Sep 23, 2020
Mark Faherty

Just like that, summer on the Cape is over - astronomically, meteorologically, economically, and emotionally. In my weirdly cold part of East Harwich, I’ve already had overnight temps in the 40s, and these relentless north winds seem to be blowing away the remains of this strange season. At the same time, they seem to be blowing in some early and ominous harbingers of winter in feathered form.

Red Brook Drawdown

Sep 16, 2020
Courtesy Mike Tucker of Falmouth

If you’re into bird migration—and why wouldn’t you be?—September is an intense month. Almost every bird that migrates is on the move, from hawks to seabirds, warblers to woodpeckers. At the backyard level, we wonder when our hummingbirds will disappear for good and where our Orioles suddenly went. 

Skyler Kardell

As a Cape Codder, you’ve seen your share of Great Blue Herons. Birders and non-birders alike can appreciate these big, charismatic wading birds found year-round here on the archipelago. You might even think you know them pretty well. 

Wildreturn / bit.ly/3gSHTrk / CC 2.0

For the birder set, late summer on the Cape and Islands is synonymous with an assortment of sought-after shorebirds and seabirds. This week was case-in-point, with the rarity parade including a continuing American Avocet at Seagull Beach in Yarmouth, a hyper-rare Common Ringed Plover in Truro, a Franklin’s Gull in Sandwich, and snazziest of all, a Pacific Golden-Plover picked out by unheralded good-birder Lee Dunn over on Nantucket, and representing just the 4th state record. 

Mark Faherty

Over the past week, a sudden influx of dizzying numbers of birds along with some big, colorful butterflies greatly enhanced the ambience of my neighborhood. The ebb and flow of bird activity at the scale of a yard or street is often puzzling, as mixed flocks come and go, leaving no clues when they suddenly disappear for a day or even weeks. 

Brad Winn/Manomet

A celebrity has returned to Wellfleet for their annual summer retreat. Tired after the long flight east, this luminary is relaxing on Lieutenant Island while dining on locally caught crabmeat. I am of course talking about a bird, and it’s Ahanu the Whimbrel. Ok, “celebrity” may be a strong word. But as the only satellite tagged Cape Cod Whimbrel to ever reveal the full annual migration from breeding grounds to wintering grounds and back, this bird is indeed a celebrity to a small handful of Manomet researchers and other bird fans, and has even been featured in a Boston Globe article, among other media appearances.

Peter R. Flood

Tropical Storm Isaias passed last Tuesday, delivering us a glancing blow on its way through western Massachusetts and New York. We saw big gusts, spotty outages, and not nearly enough rain. But for the astute and ambitious birder, the storm brought gifts as well, gifts hoovered up from Caribbean waters and deposited far from home - Sooty Terns made a series of appearances in the region, delighting some lucky birders who picked up a life bird normally requiring a trip to a remote tropical island.

wikimedia commons

August is flying by and so are many avian species. Recent stormy weather brought some unusual birds to the Cape and islands. Mark Faherty, wildlife biologist at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, joins host Mindy Todd to update us on the latest bird news, along with listeners from throughout our region calling in or emailing questions and stories about birds, and other creatures too...

Mark Faherty

In this time of tourists, the whale watch business is in full swing. Or at least half-swing - boat capacity is reduced and masks are required, but people are flocking to the boats, nonetheless. And with good reason – the Cape offers some of the world’s best whale watching, with our close proximity to the perennial whale feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank. 

Mark Faherty

It’s nearly August, and shorebird migration is well underway. Small, delicate looking creatures that spent the month of June dodging Arctic foxes and Snowy Owls are now winging their way Cape-wards. Some may stay just a week or two before continuing on to the southern reaches of the hemisphere, perhaps as much as 10,000 miles from their breeding grounds. Shorebirds are such incredible migrators that species who fly almost 5000 miles one way to wintering grounds in the Caribbean Basin are classified as “short-distance migrants”. 

Mark Faherty

At this point in the summer, a coastal birder’s focus becomes clear. Seabirds and shorebirds are currently arriving from all corners of the hemisphere, and the same goes for birders hoping to see them. The need to see them is enough to compel otherwise sane people to head out into Cape traffic and toward major beach parking lots. 

Mark Faherty

One week each summer I set birds aside, ever so briefly, to talk bugs. Of course, I mean “bugs” in the colloquial sense, not “true bugs” in the order Hemiptera, but I bet you entomological sophisticates knew that already. 

Mark Faherty

If you spend any time around saltmarshes here on the Cape, there’s a special but underappreciated bird I bet you haven’t noticed. For one thing, it’s a sparrow – the birds everybody loves to ignore. They’re “little brown jobs”, too hard to identify, not pretty enough – they’ve heard it all, but they haven’t let it get them down. But one mighty force is starting to get to this particular sparrow, and it’s the reason they are the latest addition to the Massachusetts endangered species list. It’s the Saltmarsh Sparrow, and that bully climate change has them on the ropes.

flickr b0jangles / Creative Commons / bit.ly/2NJZENt

I don’t know about your neighborhood, but mine is getting more crowded by the day. The annual population explosion, and attendant noise, is right on schedule, just in time for the 4th of July. This year it seems like it will be particularly difficult to satisfy all of these new mouths to feed. In addition to the endless stream of renters at my neighbor’s place, I am of course talking about all the young birds that are suddenly everywhere. Baby birds abound, and they are really livening up the place just when things had started to get dull in neighborhood birding.

Mark Faherty

A couple of weeks ago, as I celebrated my first Father’s Day by sharing a loungy morning on the deck with my wife and four-month-old son, I thought about what it takes to be a great dad. Looking up at one point, I noticed that I wasn’t the only new dad at my house. 

Mark Faherty

We are now past the halfway point of June, and knocking on summer’s door. This means that your standard, work-a-day bird migration is over for the time being. Everyone that’s coming back is back, and those passing through are through. Even the late-comers are nesting now, like the Eastern Wood-Pewees that don’t arrive until early June. But that doesn’t mean that the bird finding fun is over, because the wandering weirdo birds are out in full force.

Ryan Schain / flickr / bit.ly/2Ykjxj1

For a couple of years, my wife, Emily, has been asking for a piece about a favorite bird of hers, one that we enjoy watching in our yard each summer, the high-spirited Great Crested Flycatcher. As week after week went by without a flycatcher piece, it became sort of a running joke. “What should I write about this week?”, I would say. “You know”, she’d reply. Well, at long last, the time has come. This week’s subject is, the Acadian Flycatcher. Oops – sorry Emily. Wrong flycatcher.

jerrygabby1 / flickr

After years of teases, of leads that didn’t pan out, failed attempts and clues gone cold, the news I’ve been waiting for has finally broken. At last, we have “smoking gun” evidence of a legitimate Bald Eagle nest here on Cape Cod, one with a real live baby eagle in it. The eagle has indeed landed. And if you want to know where the nest is, listen all the way to the end for the big reveal.

Sean M. Williams

On the night of May 15th, several of the state’s elite birders could hardly sleep. The forecast looked too good to be true – southwest winds over a broad area to our south, then rainstorms out of the west continuing into the predawn hours. This could be it, the big one. The fallout.

Mark Faherty

This past weekend, the fickle gods of bird migration finally smiled on the Cape. To our south, favorable tail winds got migrant songbirds up and flying our way on Friday night, while a front coming from the west brought rain and unfavorable winds. These forces conspired to guide, then ground those migrants along our coast. 

Mary Keleher

Every morning from April to August, Mary Keleher puts her hair up in a ponytail and heads out to a Mashpee golf course, where she uses a rope-and-pulley system to lower white plastic gourds from trees. Inside each gourd is a nesting pair of birds.

Ryan Schain / bit.ly/2Lrc9vY

Weather-wise, this has been a pretty good month, if that month were February. But hopefully, now that it’s mid-May, most of the snow and multi-day wind storms are behind us, so we can focus on what’s important right now. And what’s important right now is warblers.