Western tanager — Lanny McDowell

A western tanager is a rare vagrant from the western part of this country that, according to Susan Whiting and Barbara Pesch’s 2005 book Vineyard Birds II, has only been seen 14 times. There have been two this fall/winter. In November Allan Keith found one near Squibnocket Pond, which he has found whenever he visited, most recently on Jan. 10.

A second western tanager has been visiting Brenda and Charles Smith’s feeders for the past three weeks. They have several feeders and have dense shrubbery around the perimeter of their yard. The tanager emerges from that shrubbery every few minutes to make a short feeder visit. Their birding daughter Kayla Smith, who works for BiodiversityWorks, identified the bird from a photo and then came to see the bird for herself. Luanne Johnson, Lanny McDowell and I have also seen it, and it was seen most recently on Jan. 31.

It has been a wintertime invasion of tanagers, with an unheard-of 12 sightings in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York city. All have been near the coast except for one in North Attleborough.

Fish crows at the Lagoon — Lanny McDowell

Large flocks of birds have been reported this week. Most notable was the flock of at least 1,500 robins that Bob Woodruff and Rick Fischer spotted flying past their houses; the flock flew by for at least 20 minutes. David Stanwood observed well over 1,000 commuter crows as they departed for the Cape on the morning of Jan. 25. There was one large dense flock of American crows and a second large flock of fish crows. The third large flock was of 250 black ducks that Allan Keith found on the lee shore of Sarson’s Island on Jan. 24.

Bald eagles have also been sighted recently. Allan Keith found two — an adult and a juvenile — at Squibnocket on Jan 24. There were two sightings on Jan. 28: Clint Merrill saw an adult over North Road and the Woods Preserve, while Pam and Mo Flam observed an adult and a juvenile on the ice at Crackatuxet Pond. Jean-Marc Dupon observed a juvenile on Tisbury Great Pond on Jan. 30. Holly Mercier spotted a merlin at Norton Point on Jan. 27.

Snow goose family — Lanny McDowell

Other miscellaneous sightings include Matt Pelikan’s single palm warbler in the bushes near the Oak Bluffs office of Martha’s Vineyard Insurance on Jan. 26; a greater yellowlegs that Jean Tunnell saw on Jan. 27; and a Baltimore Oriole observed by Jack Ryan in Oak Bluffs on Jan. 30. Allan Keith has had visitors at his feeders: a pair of red-winged blackbirds on Jan. 28, one chipping sparrow on Jan. 30 and the clay-colored sparrow is still there.

Here are the final results of the 62nd annual Martha’s Vineyard Christmas Bird Count held Jan. 2. There were 61 birders afield and 18 watching their feeders, and we found 20,666 individuals of 119 different species. Five additional species were seen during Count Week, which is three days before and three days after Count Day. Compiling the results from 13 field teams and feeder watchers is a huge task; a big thank you to Luanne Johnson and BiodiversityWorks for all their work. Count Week observations are indicated as count week in parentheses instead of a quantity:

Christmas Bird Count at Wasque — Lanny McDowell

Brant (136); snow goose white morph (count week); Canada goose (2,613); mute swan (97); wood duck (count week); gadwall (10); American wigeon (105); American black duck (614); mallard (804); black duck mallard (1); northern shoveler (1); northern pintail (8): green-winged teal (31): ring-necked duck (28); greater scaup (1,714); lesser scaup (39); scaup species (31); common eider (260); harlequin duck (11); surf scoter (250); white-winged scoter (267); black scoter (61); scoter species (2); long-tailed duck (66); bufflehead (1,188); common goldeneye (407); Barrow’s goldeneye (1); hooded merganser (280); common merganser (2); red-breasted merganser (588); ruddy duck (47); ring-necked pheasant (1); wild turkey (138); red-throated loon (51); common loon (137); pied-billed grebe (1); horned grebe (16); red-necked grebe (7); northern gannet (31); double-crested cormorant (20); great cormorant (52); cormorant species (1); great blue heron (35); great egret (1); black-crowned night heron 35); turkey vulture (31); northern harrier (7); sharp-shinned hawk (3); Cooper’s hawk (6); bald eagle (count week); red-tailed hawk (29); Virginia rail (3); American coot (count week); black-bellied plover (10); sanderling (155); dunlin (24); purple sandpiper (8); American woodcock (7); dovekie (3); razorbill (5); ring-billed gull (85); herring gull (753); great black-backed gull (225); rock pigeon (91); mourning dove (244); barn owl (8); eastern screech-owl (16); snowy owl (3); long-eared owl (1); belted kingfisher (24); red-bellied woodpecker (67); yellow-bellied sapsucker (13); downy woodpecker (98); hairy woodpecker (22); northern flicker (97); merlin (3); peregrine falcon (1); eastern phoebe (3); blue jay (459); American crow (653); fish crow (441); tree swallow (94); black-capped chickadee (882); tufted titmouse (205); red-breasted nuthatch (21); white-breasted nuthatch (119); brown creeper (16); winter wren (4); marsh wren (2); Carolina wren (235); golden-crowned kinglet (49); ruby-crowned kinglet (2); eastern bluebird (144); hermit thrush (37); American robin (2,248); gray catbird (22); brown thrasher (1); northern mockingbird (20); European starling (536); American pipit (6); cedar waxwing (244); snow bunting (25); orange-crowned warbler (1); palm warbler (4); pine warbler (31); yellow-rumped warbler (238);yellow-breasted chat (3); American tree sparrow (3); chipping sparrow (19); field sparrow (1); dark-eyed junco (243); white-crowned sparrow (1); white-throated sparrow (209); savannah sparrow (9); Ipswich sparrow (5); song sparrow (323); swamp sparrow (9); eastern towhee (21); northern cardinal (245); red-winged blackbird (21); eastern meadowlark (20); rusty blackbird (1); common grackle (1); Baltimore oriole (count week); house finch (279); American goldfinch (192); house sparrow (87); blue-headed vireo (1); western Tanager (1).

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Please email your sightings to birds@mvgazette.com.

Robert Culbert is an ecological consultant with Nature Watch LLC living in Vineyard Haven.