I was outside filling my feeder early in the morning of April 6, and the valley was full of a strange sound: a clearly whistled note being repeatedly sung by at least 10 different birds. Ahh, the welcome sounds of spring! But the sounds came from an unexpected source: year-round resident blue jays. They make a wide variety of sounds, most frequently a raucous loud “jeeer” or “jaaay.” They are also excellent imitators of the red-tailed hawk’s screech.

Blue jay — Lanny McDowell

But this was very different. They were blue jays and we do not realize how abundant they are until we hear something like this. I usually see up to three blue jays at my feeder, so to have at least 10 calling (singing?) caught my attention at once. My other favorite blue jay vocalization is the softly whistled “tea-cup” heard every year during the breeding season. Ned Casey also reports 10 blue jays near his house on April 1.

A few weeks back I mentioned spring overshoots — birds carried northward beyond their normal range by strong southwesterly winds. Then it was two Baltimore orioles; now it is three different reports of young male indigo buntings appearing in yards on April 8 after two days of wind and rain. Jill and Gus duPont saw one feeding in the grass at Ocean View Farm in Chilmark; Joel Williams had one at his Edgartown feeders; and Mary Beth Baptiste saw one in West Tisbury.

Another exceptional sighting is a yellow-billed cuckoo, spotted by Jeff Bernier as it foraged on the ground in plain view in his Edgartown backyard on April 9. Cuckoos are more usually heard than seen, as they tend to stay still while singing loudly in the treetops. Records from past years suggest it usually shows up in late April.

An eastern kingbird is another unusually early sighting. Tony Lima spotted one at North Head in Aquinnah on April 11, about two weeks ahead of its usual first sighting on April 23.

Eastern towhee — Lanny McDowell

Matt Pelikan spotted two recent arrivals in the West Tisbury part of the state forest on April 10. He heard his first singing eastern towhee of the year (“drink-your-teeaa”) and saw a pair of field sparrows. He also heard both red-breasted nuthatch and brown creeper singing while a pair of common ravens flew overhead. Danguole Budris, Tim Leland and Luanne Johnson also report winter-resident red-breasted nuthatches still visiting their feeders.

There are two reports of the first barn swallows this year. Luanne Johnson spotted a lone barn swallow on April 9 as it flew along Edgartown Great Pond’s beach. The next day she was joined by Margaret Curtin and Nancy Weaver, and they saw a barn swallow and 14 tree swallows at the Vineyard Open Land Foundation’s cranberry bog on Lambert’s Cove Road. Two other sightings of tree swallows show their increasing numbers; the MV Bird Club trip found three in Aquinnah on April 9, and Al Gatti found two at Katama Farm on April 10.

Sea Williams and Bridget Dunnigan visited Sepiessa Point on April 7 and their highlight was three pine warblers. When Nancy Weaver, Margaret Curtin and Luanne Johnson visited the VOLF cranberry bog on April 10, they found eight pine warblers and four wood ducks in addition to the barn and tree swallows mentioned previously.

Phoebes are still returning though the one that nests near my house has yet to show up. On March 26, Randy Rynd spotted her first phoebe of the year. Nancy Weaver, Margaret Curtin and three other observers found one on Pond View Road on April 11.

Barn swallow — Lanny McDowell

Twenty people showed up for the Bird Club field trip to Aquinnah on April

9. It was led by Bob Shriber and Lanny McDowell. Other than the tree swallows named above, their highlights were nine black ducks, three common eiders, six harlequin ducks, nine surf scoter, four white-winged scoter, 75 black scoter, 75 long-tailed ducks, 19 bufflehead, 12 red-breasted mergansers, two piping plovers, one killdeer, one greater yellowlegs, five red-throated loons, eight common loons, 150 northern gannets, seven great cormorants, one Coopers hawk, two belted kingfishers and one dark-eyed junco.

Yellow-billed cuckoo — Lanny McDowell

The junco sighting reminds that these winter residents are still hanging around. At Wasque, Tim Leland had a flock of three dark-eyed juncos on April 3, as well as a mockingbird, several cowbirds and a brown creeper. Angel Morris spotted three dark-eyed juncos at the West Chop end of Franklin street on April 10. Similarly lingering are three white-throated sparrows spotted by Luanne Johnson in her yard on April 9.

Lindsay Allison observed a bald eagle at Snow’s Point on April 8. The resident ospreys and crows were not very happy about it. Ben Cabot saw an adult bald eagle fly over North Tisbury on April 11. As for ospreys, on April 8 Olsen Houghton observed five congregating around the nest pole near the Tashmoo opening while another pair was occupying the nest in Lake Tashmoo.

T.J. Hegarty spotted a great egret in the marsh across from the Chilmark town boat ramp on April 5.

Last but not least: Marnie Gauley reports that a nest of mourning doves hatched on April 7. Anyone who has ever seen a mourning dove nest — they look sloppy — might wonder why the eggs do not fall through the nest during their incubation!

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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.