Great shearwaters nest on small islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean when it is summer down there. Once they have finished they fly north over the open ocean for about 7,500 miles to reach our shores, where they will experience our summer. Their long narrow wings make them efficient fliers, soaring with little effort for long distances. They can also swim and catch and eat meals enroute.

Great shearwater — Lanny McDowell

Susan Whiting and Bob Shriber spotted 25 great shearwaters foraging in the ocean near the Gay Head Cliffs on June 12. Unfortunately we also have dead great shearwaters washing up on our beaches. David Radcliffe spotted eight carcasses between Lower Makonikey and Lambert’s Cove Beach over June 10 and 11, and I found six dead on the beaches of Cedar Tree Neck on June 11. The next day Bob Shriber found four dead at Squibnocket, while 36 washed up on Nantucket. This column will let you know when — if — we find out why these birds have died.

Shorebirds are still moving northward. On June 7 Jeff Bernier visited Little Beach and spotted ruddy turnstones and semipalmated sandpipers. On June 10 Shea Fee visited Norton Point and found three sanderlings, two white-rumped sandpipers (a new species for the year), 26 semipalmated sandpipers and five laughing gulls. David Mehegan also spotted a common loon from Cape Pogue on June 8.

Another interesting find comes from Luanne Johnson, Margaret Curtin and Shea Fee who spotted an eastern meadowlark at Katama Farm on June 12. I do not recall another sighting of this species this year although before the 1990s they used to be a rather common resident. And Lorraine Golio spotted a red-breasted nuthatch on June 6 at the Menemsha Inn.

Eastern meadowlark — Lanny McDowell

Shea Fee and Rand Burnett have been hearing whip-poor-wills at Wasque since May 10. Bob Shriber has heard them in Aquinnah since May 22. Their close cousin, the chuck-will’s-widow ­— another new species for the year — has been heard calling from along Dike Road by Hatsy Potter. She reports first hearing them on May 4 and they are now calling regularly after dark. She is concerned as she has not been hearing as many as in past years.

I have been waiting for a report of a sandhill crane and finally it is here. Yet another new species for the year. Laura Hilliard spotted one at Katama Farm on June 5. Jeff Bernier saw and photographed it on June 6.

The vast majority of sightings are of breeding birds. It is difficult to find nests, so there are several indirect ways to confirm that a species is nesting, including seeing a bird carrying vegetation to build a nest, carrying food to feed nestlings, carrying a fecal sac away from a nest to keep the nest well concealed, or seeing a parent feeding recent fledglings. A probable breeding species is present throughout the breeding season, and a possible breeding species is present for part of the breeding season.

Hermit thrush — Lanny McDowell

A number of species have observations confirming their nesting. On June 12 Thaw Malin and Cynthia Bloomquist reported black-capped chickadees carrying food; tree swallows carrying a fecal sac; a house finch feeding young; and a northern cardinal feeding recently fledged young. On June 7 Luanne Johnson and Lanny McDowell visited Katama and observed a pair of very agitated territorial merlins indicating their nest was nearby; a crow nest with chicks in it; and three pairs of house wrens nesting in boxes. And I observed both bank and rough-winged swallows darting in and out of cavities in the coastal bank at Cedar Tree Neck and a fledgling Carolina wren.

Other confirmations of nesting birds include Lisa Maxfield’s June 10 observation of Canada geese and goslings at Brush Pond and David Mehegan’s June 8 observation of goslings on Cape Poge. Jeff Bernier photographed the first piping plover chicks at Little Beach on June 7. Bob Shriber reported a hairy woodpecker nest with young in it on Old South Road on June 6. Betty Burton has been watching two baby mourning doves growing up.

Shea Fee watched a house wren building a nest on June 10. Jessica Shafer has recently watched as eastern bluebird, American robin and Carolina wren nests have been depredated. Ursula Goodenough watched European starlings feeding their fledglings on June 8 and the troika of Luanne Johnson, Margaret Curtin and Shea Fee observed two recently-fledged savannah sparrows at Katama Farm on June 12.

Semipalmated sandpipers — Lanny McDowell

It is important to not “rescue” the young nestlings or fledglings that appear to be abandoned. In almost all cases, they are not abandoned and the best course of action is to leave them alone, move away from the site and watch the adults tend their offspring. Please leave all baby birds alone unless they are youngsters in immediate danger from a road, cat, or other predator. It is difficult and time-consuming to try to raise a baby bird, and its chance of surviving after being released into the wild are rather low.

Finally, a few miscellaneous sightings. On June 6 Luanne Johnson heard and saw the continuing yellow-throated warbler and a scarlet tanager off John Hoft Road, the same day that Sara Brown saw two ravens at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary. Ilaria Rebay was surprised to see two black skimmers feeding at the Vineyard Haven town beach at 10 p.m. on June 8, while the next day Will Graves found a rose-breasted grosbeak in Meetinghouse Village. Shea Fee observed a pair of brown thrashers at Wasque on June 10.

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