Wait a minute! Didn’t the southward migration of birds just come to a close in mid-January, with the arrival of larger flocks of snow geese? Well, maybe the groundhog was wrong and spring is on its way.

Only one grackle was seen on the annual Christmas Bird Count last month, so something has changed: all of a sudden grackles are abundant. They are hard to miss, especially when in noisy flocks; people with feeders tend to complain because birdseed disappears so quickly when a flock is present.

Garwall — Lanny McDowell

Here are the sightings. Matt Pelikan reported a flock of grackles at Seven Gates Farm on Jan. 28, just before the big snow storm. On Jan. 31 Albert Fischer saw one in his West Tisbury yard but that individual returned the next day with 50 of his friends. Kib Bramhall reports from Seven Gates Farm that she saw a flock of 100 on Feb. 1. Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin had a flock of 275 flying past their house on Jan. 31. Laurie Meyst’s flock showed up on Feb. 2 and Betty Burton saw 10 at her feeders that day. On Feb. 3, Olsen Houghton spotted 60 grackles at the high school. The high count goes to Mike Tinus, who had at least 300 passing through his Oak Bluffs yard on Feb 4. Others reporting grackles are Nicole Cabot, Kathy Landers, Dardanella Slavin, George Hartman, Nikki Patton and Catherine Deese.

This is many more grackles than have been here recently and it is unlikely that other birders would not have seen that many. The most likely explanation for this onslaught of grackles is the start of their northward migration, even though the southward migration ended just three weeks ago.

On Feb. 6 I observed two other signs of spring. Two tom turkeys were displaying noisily along Colonial Drive in Vineyard Haven and a mockingbird was singing a few phrases near Town Cove.

This week there have been two reports of rusty blackbirds, a very unusual species whose population is about 10 percent of what it was 40 years ago. On Jan. 30, Simon Hickman observed what is likely a rusty blackbird on the ground a mere 15 feet outside his window. The next day two foraged on the ground by a stream. These birds were last seen on Feb. 2. Allan Keith found a likely rusty blackbird near Dogfish Bar on Feb. 7. Because of their rarity, both sightings will be vetted before they become official records.

Brenda and Charles Smith’s western tanager is still present as of Feb. 6.

Northern pintails — Lanny McDowell

The waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) show has gained some intensity. Twenty species are reported in this column. I birded the West Tisbury side of Tisbury Great Pond on Feb. 6, visiting Town Cove, Short Cove and the upper reaches of both Deep Bottom Cove and Tiah’s Cove. The most notable species I observed were seven male northern pintail, seven gadwall, four green-winged teal and one adult male northern shoveler, as well as the more common Canada goose, mute swan, mallard, black duck, American wigeon, ring-necked duck, greater scaup, bufflehead, goldeneye, hooded merganser, red-breasted merganser, common eider and white-winged scoter. Luanne Johnson and Shea Fee birded Aquinnah the same day and added three species to the list: nine ruddy ducks at the Herring Creek, and harlequin duck, surf scoter and black-scoter elsewhere in Aquinnah.

Overwintering greater yellowlegs seem to be the new normal; we have had them for two winters in a row. Matthew Born spotted one at West Basin on Feb. 1 and Bob Shriber saw it again in Lobsterville on Feb. 7. I found one along the shores of Short Cove on Feb. 6, about 100 feet distant.

Matthew Born had a brown thrasher visiting his feeders near Lobsterville Road from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, as well as a snow goose feeding in the West Basin salt marsh and four tree swallows flying above it. Wow, tree swallows in February!

Northern shovelers — Lanny McDowell

Bald eagles have been sighted recently in Lagoon Pond. On Feb. 5 Lisa Maxfield spotted one dining on a white-winged scoter in the marsh adjacent to Brush Pond, and Olsen Houghton had one flying over East Chop. The next day Sharon Simonin found an immature and an adult at the Oak Bluffs pumping station. Lisa Maxfield and Susan Shea got to see the adult. Ned Casey spotted an adult at Sengekontacket Pond on Feb. 6. Tara Whiting-Wells spotted an adult bald eagle over Whiting’s sheep farm on Feb. 3.

The Martha’s Vineyard Bird Club field trip to Pecoy Point on Feb. 5 was led by Luanne Johnson and Margaret Curtin. Their highlights were 100 black ducks, kingfisher, red-breasted nuthatch, eastern bluebird, robin, fox sparrow and swamp sparrow.

Speaking of robins, there have been a lot around. Most interesting was a partially leucistic robin that has small patches of white on its head and neck; Albert Fischer spotted it on Feb. 5 while Liz Olsen and Luanne Johnson saw a similar — possibly the same — robin in Liz’s yard the day before. Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin carefully counted 1,446 robins flying past their house on Jan. 31! Others seeing robins this week include Laura Denno, Nancy Steinbock, Deborah Hart, Mary Volpe, Jane Katch, Carol Spiritoso, Laurie Meyst, Lisa Maxfield, Betty Martin, Jim Hartman, Luanne Johnson, Shea Fee, Angel Morris, John Bevis and me.

Red-necked grebe — Lanny McDowell

In addition to the ruddy ducks mentioned above, Luanne Johnson and Shea Fee saw nine horned grebes, 12 razorbills, 23 great cormorants, two catbirds and a swamp sparrow on Feb. 6 at Herring Creek in Aquinnah. I found four red-necked grebes close to shore in Vineyard Haven outer harbor on Feb. 4.

Oops! Last week I incorrectly mentioned a clay-colored sparrow at Allan Keith’s feeders. It was a Lincoln’s sparrow.

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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.