Baltimore orioles and orchard oriole — Lanny McDowell

If you think that our blue jays, cardinals, goldfinches and other feeder birds are colorful enough, help may be on the way. Birds are migrating through Central America about now and they may get carried aloft by storms crossing from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, and then up to us either over land or sea. They are called spring overshoots, as they end up further north than they would have been otherwise; indigo buntings, rose-breasted grosbeaks, blue grosbeaks, summer or scarlet tanagers and Baltimore orioles typically surprise us at our feeders. On March 18 Tim Rush reported two male Baltimore orioles in the woods near the P.A. Club.

Five new species for the year have arrived this week. The arrival of eastern phoebes are eagerly anticipated; they usually arrive in early March. Kayla Smith spotted the first one at the BiodiversityWorks headquarters off Lambert’s Cone Road on March 17, Matt Pelikan heard it singing March 18 and Luanne Johnson saw it on March 21.

Piping plover — Lanny McDowell

The first piping plover arrived at Little Beach on March 16, spotted by Liz Olsen. Jeff Bernier spotted a pair there on March 21. On March 17 Katherine Long saw a brown thrasher on her deck, about two weeks ahead of their usual arrival date of April 1. Matt Pelikan spotted a flock of 18 horned larks at Katama Farm on March 18. Luanne Johnson spotted an American kestrel at Quansoo Farm on March 20.

And March 20 is the same day that the first great egrets of the season showed up; Lindsay Allison spotted two at Snow’s Point on Chappaquiddick and John Nelson found one at Eel Pond.

While a few double-crested cormorants have been present through the winter, Luanne Johnson spotted three of them on Sarson’s Island on March 19, where some 400 plus pairs nest every year.

Eastern Phoebe — Lanny McDowell

Species that arrived earlier in the month are increasing their abundance, although a lot more will arrive in the next month or so. The beach-nesting American oystercatchers are one of these species. Two pairs nest between Tisbury Marketplace and the drawbridge; the Ferryboat Island pair returned last week. On March 15 Nathalie Woodruff spotted one on the Vineyard Haven harbor beach across from Vineyard Scripts, while the next day Kate Scott spotted one on the harbor side of Beach Road, northeast of the R. M. Packer site. Elsewhere, Jeff Bernier spotted an oystercatcher on Little Beach on March 15. On March 19 Lisa Maxfield spotted one at Brush Pond while Luanne Johnson spotted one at Sarson’s island. Jeff Bernier found five at Little Beach on March 21.

Ospreys are also becoming more abundant. Parker Fyfe-Kiernan reported an osprey on March 18 at Cranberry Acres. Danguole Budris spotted one at Upper Tiah’s Cove on March 19. John Mode and Nelson Smith both observed one at the Oak Bluffs pumping station on March 20; you can watch the progress of this nest on the osprey cam at the Oak Bluffs Water District website. Billie Burke saw an osprey circling above Little Duarte’s Pond on March 20.

Several new arrivals were noted on March 21 when John Nelson saw a pair at Harthaven, Martha Moore saw one on the Long Point pole osprey pole, David Damroth observed one at Squibnocket Beach, and Lindsay Allison found one on the nest pole at Snow’s Point on Chappaquiddick.

American kestrel — Lanny McDowell

Are the robins we are seeing now winter residents that have not yet moved north, migrants passing through to points further north, or our summer resident breeding birds? Suffice to say that there are medium-to-large flocks of robins just about everywhere. On March 17, Matt Pelikan observed lots of robins spread out and foraging on the pastures and hayfields of Katama Farm. He also observed two swamp sparrows at Slough Cove and the fox sparrow visited his yard again. On March 17 he observed an oddly-colored female bufflehead near the Sepiessa Point canoe slide. It had a mostly-white body and a mostly normal head pattern.

On the black bird front, Pat Ingalls observed a pair of cowbirds on March 18 and on March 20 Thaw Malin counted a flock of 170 grackles flying over his house. Both species breed here but that does not mean that these birds will necessarily stay here; they may head further north.

Great egret — Lanny McDowell

Winter resident ring-necked ducks have been seen this week by David Stanwood and Luanne Johnson at Cranberry Acres, with an unusually high count of 84 on March 20. After several months of searching, On March 19, after several months of searching, Anne and Wendy Culbert and I finally caught up with a flock of eight purple sandpipers roosting on an off-shore boulder at Great Rock Bight.

Adult bald eagles are year-round residents. On March 14 Mike Zoll spotted one at the Oak Bluffs pumping station; Kate Scott also saw it. The next day Peter Enrich observed one soaring overhead at Sepiessa Point, Martha Moore saw one sitting on the Long Point osprey pole, and Margaret Curtin found one over Lagoon Pond.

Another year-round resident, a ring-necked pheasant, was observed by Andru Carr at the Airport Business Park on March 18.

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