Purple Gallinule Lands on Island From the South

Purple Gallinule Lands on Island From the South

By E. Vernon Laux

At noon on New Year's Day, Stephen Carlson of Oak Bluffs made a remarkable discovery.

Mr. Carlson had just left his home on a dirt road when, upon reaching the pavement, he noticed an object in the road. Dazed and confused, walking and standing in the middle of the road, was a very odd bird. As if recovering from a celebratory New Year's Eve, this bird was bobbing and weaving.

Cormorant Killings Near the Herring Run Create Stir Up-Island

A flap has arisen in Aquinnah over the illegal shooting of a large number of cormorants earlier this month on tribal land. The killings took place near the historic herring run, the oldest operating herring run on the Island. The incident raised questions about how laws are enforced by the tribe.

New Research: Island's Extinct Heath Hen Was a Unique Bird

Now a genetic study of the skins of scores of heath hens, all of them from the Vineyard, shows that the Island bird, although it looked and behaved much like its supposed parent species in the Midwest, was a wholly distinctive creature. Genetically it was more different from the greater western prairie chicken - that supposed parent species - than the Midwestern bird is from any other family member in its genus, which includes the lesser prairie chicken, the endangered Attwater's prairie chicken of eastern Texas, and even the sharp-tailed grouse. It is possible that instead of being a subspecies of the prairie chicken - which scientists have considered it to be since it was first typed in the last years of the nineteenth century - the heath hen might have been a species unto itself.

Plovers Abound, Stripers Are In: Katama Breach Boosts Ecology

The forces which punched a hole in Norton Point and opened Edgartown harbor to the Atlantic Ocean might present a headache for town officials, but from an ecological viewpoint, they have all the benefits of a big natural spring cleaning.

Vineyard Canada Geese

Tisbury Great Pond looked like a Japanese painting, flat calm with a fine mist hanging just over the surface. It was so quiet it was eerie. The silence was broken by the honking of a flock of Canada Geese. The birds rose up in a V-formation through the fog and headed directly towards my kitchen window, creating quite a din for such an early hour. At what seemed the last second, the flock sailed over the roof and headed towards Black Point Pond.

This Journey to Save the World Begins With a Dwindling Flock of Red Knots

W e had committed to spending the last week of May along the New Jersey side of Delaware Bay, on the beaches that stretch north from Cape May. One of my two partners in this project, Porter Turnbull, had set up our first meeting at a service stop far down the Garden State Parkway. Our discussion was with a longtime fisherman who has been an advocate for commercial horseshoe crab harvesters. The meeting outlined the complexities of balancing the interests of crab fishermen, shorebird researchers and the wildlife that served both.

Katama Snowy Owl

The internet is a great boon to birders. We can share our sightings daily, or if you are really intent, hourly. The net is also a way to keep birders honest.

Norton Point Shorebirds

Bird watching or birding, you may call it what you wish, is great hobby, occupation, form of relaxation, and more than anything else is an ongoing education. The learning experience involved in birding is one that has kept me hooked on watching, reading about, talking to others about, and surfing the net for information about birds for lo these many years.

Hurricane Earl

Hurricane Earl was a bust for bird watchers. A cast of thousands, all the Vineyard’s most active bird watchers, met at the Gay Head Cliffs on Saturday, Sept. 4 with high hopes. Although the winds were not much more than a northeaster, we were hopeful that some unusual bird species may have been carried to our Island from afar. No such luck. There were more bird watchers than birds.

Beetlebung birds

Beetlebung Corner is really the center of Chilmark. The library, the school, the community center, the town hall, two banks, a restaurant, a general store, a real estate office and the post office are all within a few steps. This is all well and good for humans. However, for the birds Beetlebung Farm, which provides fresh vegetables and flowers in the summer, is their main attraction. By now the vegetables have been harvested and most of the flowers gone. Luckily there are still a few hardy nasturtiums blooming and a very late visitor arrived on Nov. 2 to enjoy the nectar of these nasturtiums. Marie Scott and Suzie Bunker, both daughters of Ozzie and Rena Fischer, spotted the hummingbird and alerted their father and their brother, Bert.

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