Spotted sandpiper — Lanny McDowell

Who flipped the switch from migration to the breeding season? All of a sudden the songbird migration has ended. Our summer resident breeding songbirds are getting down to the business of raising their next generation.

Some waterbirds are still on the move. Sam Wainwright found a spotted sandpiper at Great Rock Bight on June 1. And ruddy turnstones are passing through; Sam Wainwright counted 97 ruddies at Norton Pont on June 3, along with 15 sanderlings. Susan Whiting and Stephen Russ spotted 30 on Sarson’s Island that same day. And I found six ruddies, two sanderling and one black-bellied plover on June 4 at Little Beach. Parker Fyfe-Kiernan observed eight black-bellied plovers on the beach at Edgartown Great Pond on May 31. Sharon Simonin photographed one as it pulled a juicy marine worm out of the tidal flats on May 28.

Lanny McDowell

Seabirds are on the move too. Bob Shriber found two northern gannets flying by the Gay Head Cliffs on June 2, and a sooty shearwater on June 4 near the cliffs. On June 1 Sam Wainright observed a common loon from Great Rock Bight and the next day Caroline Held saw one off Chappaquonsett. On June 3 Sam Wainwright observed five common eiders and seven white-winged scoters from Norton Point. That same day, Shea Fee found a black scoter off Wasque. I observed one common eider off Cedar Tree Neck on June 5. And the immature Iceland gull reported last week showed up again at Lambert’s Cove Beach, as reported by Pete Gilmore.

Laughing gulls breed elsewhwhere in Massachusetts — but not here. A laugher was observed by Bob Shriber on June 1 and I found two at Cedar Tree Neck on June 5. Ian Boardman spotted a great blue heron at Lobsterville on June 1. Susan Whiting observed a gadwall on Tisbury Great Pond on June 3.

Laughing gull — Lanny McDowell

No migrating warblers were observed this week. Each of the species mentioned breeds here. In Aquinnah Bob Shriber spotted three ovenbirds and black-and-white, yellowthroat, redstart and yellow warblers. On May 31 the MV Bird Club trip to the state forest — led by Pete Gilmore and Luanne Johnson — produced only ovenbird, pine and prairie warblers. Matthew Born saw yellowthroat, yellow warbler and redstart in Aquinnah on June 2. That same day Fanny Riand visited Chappaquiddick Point and spotted a prairie warbler while Ian Boardman found ovenbird, redstart, yellowthroat, yellow warbler and prairie warblers.

Richard Price spotted yellowthroat, yellow and pine warblers at Felix Neck on June 4. Sea Williams and Bridget Dunnigan found ovenbird, yellowthroat, pine and prairie warblers along State Road near Menemsha Pond, also on June 4. And finally, Luanne Johnson and Margaret visited Great Rock Bight Preserve on June 5 and saw ovenbird, blue-winged, black-and-white, yellowthroat, redstart, parula, yellow and prairie warblers.

Red-eyed vireos and eastern wood pewees are also widespread breeding species. On May 31, the MV Bird Club field trip to the state forest found red-eyed vireos; Shea Fee spotted both species at Wasque on June 1; and Ian Boardman spotted both on State Road near Menemsha Pond on June 2, the same day that Bob Shriber observed both species in Aqujnnah. Bridget Dunnigan and Sea Williams spotted both in the state forest on June 4. Luanne Johnson and Margaret found both at Great Rock Bight Preserve on June 5.

Saltmarsh sparrow — Lanny McDowell

Lanny McDowell and Pete Gilmore found a saltmarsh sparrow at Norton Point on June 1. Dana Bangs observed two saltmarsh sparrows (and three green herons) in the Sengy marshes on June 4. Pete Gilmore found the field sparrow that has been seen regularly in the meadow near state forest Headquarters on June 2. Sam Wainwright spotted savannah sparrows at Norton Point on June 3, and the next day Dana Bangs observed some at Katama Farm.

Notes from here and there. Tim Rush observed a brown thrasher in his yard on May 31. Danguole Budris observed a turkey vulture at Sepiessa Point that was “going from one tree to another, making a strange sound.” Although this bird was apparently an immature, it sure sounds like there may be an active nest near there. On June 2 Ian Boardman spotted a chimney swift and a house wren by Menemsha Pond. Bob Shriber found a wood thrush in Aquinnah on June 4.

News of nesting birds are becoming more frequent. On May 31, during its tour of the state forest headquarters area, the MV Bird Club spotted a pair of tree swallows occupying a nest box and a hen mallard with ducklings. On June 1 Mary Beth Baptiste observed recently-hatched baby turkeys in West Tisbury, while other reports of turkey chicks are from Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven and Edgartown.

Sooty shearwater — Lanny McDowell

Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin have found nests of ruby-throated hummingbirds, great crested flycatcher, black-capped chickadee, tree swallow, house finch, and house wren recently. On May 31 they discovered a mallard with six ducklings.

Cynnie Wayman commented that Carolina wrens “put forth such a vibrant song.” So true! But they are seldom mentioned in this column because of their abundance. An incomplete listing of these seldom-mentioned species would include black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, American robins, gray catbirds, European starlings, chipping sparrows, eastern towhees, red-winged blackbirds and northern cardinals.

More Bird Photos

Please email your sightings to

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