Saturday, May 14 dawned a little differently. It was the morning of Felix Neck’s Birdathon and there was not a strong wind roaring out of the northeast. The woodlands were pretty quiet as the day started out overcast, but the sun shone through about 9 a.m. and seemingly brought the woodlands to life. The complete list of birds observed on that Saturday appears at the end of this column; here are a few highlights.

Suzan Bellincampi reports that a total of 134 species was observed that day, surpassing the previous record of 132 species, set last year. The inclusion of 19 species of warblers and four species of vireos highlights that migrating birds were found that do not nest on the Vineyard. This only happens when we do not have strong northeasterly winds that blow migrants inland and away from the coast.

Lanny McDowell was out and photographed the hooded warbler at Waskosim’s Rock and found a scarlet tanager. He reports that his best bird may well have been the blue grosbeak at his feeder – it is still there, too! Allan Keith reports slim pickings, but he did find a harlequin duck and a razorbill at Squibnocket, as well as seven great egrets on Chappaquiddick. Luanne Johnson and Liz Baldwin found the whippoorwill and an American woodcock at the Frisbee golf field in the State Forest. And Penny Uhlendorf and Scott Stephens found the red-headed woodpecker and the great horned owls – two adults and two chicks all lined up on a branch — at the Phillips Preserve.

I observed four species of vireos, which is probably a first for me on the Vineyard. A blue-headed vireo was in my yard (it was there on Friday and Sunday as well). The warbling vireo and white-eyed vireo were both at Fulling Mill Brook, singing loudly no more than 20 feet away. Only the red-eyed vireo was secretive as it remained high in the trees and did not sing much. As I was driving away from the property a black-throated blue warbler landed on the road immediately in front of me; how it avoided becoming a roadkill is a mystery to me.

Please remember that the birdathon is an important fundraiser to support the numerous educational programs at Felix Neck. It is not too late to make a pledge by calling Felix Neck at 508-627-4850, or to go online to

Allan Keith reports three other species that were not observed on the birdathon. Two were lingering winter residents, harlequin duck and razorbill, and the third was a migrating shorebird, an American golden plover. The latter is much more common in the fall.

Terry Appenzellar reports a Bonaparte’s gull that showed up at Crystal Lake on Sunday, May 15. It was still present as of May 17.

Jeff Verner e-mailed to report a number of firsts for his yard: a brown thrasher visited and was observed as it turned over earth in woodland, an orchard oriole was hanging around the crabapple for a few days, and a probable female summer tanager visited his feeder.

Spring migration is now at its peak, so please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard bird hotline at 508-645-2913 or e-mail

List of species observed on Felix Neck’s Birdathon:


Canada goose

Mute swan

American black duck


Lesser scaup

Common eider

Surf scoter

White-winged scoter

Black scoter

Long-tailed duck


Red-breasted merganser

Ring-necked pheasant

Wild turkey

Red-throated loon

Common loon

Northern fulmar

Wilson’s storm-petrel

Northern gannet

Double-crested cormorant

Great blue heron

Great egret

Green heron

Black-crowned night-heron

Turkey vulture


Northern harrier

Cooper’s hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Black-bellied plover

Semipalmated plover

Piping plover


American oystercatcher

Greater yellowlegs


Ruddy turnstone


Least sandpiper


American woodcock

Red-necked phalarope

Laughing gull

Ring-billed gull

Herring gull

Great black-backed gull

Least tern

Roseate tern

Common tern

Rock pigeon

Mourning dove

Barn owl

Eastern screech owl

Great horned owl


Chimney swift

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Belted kingfisher

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-headed woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker

Northern flicker

Eastern wood-peewee

Eastern phoebe

Great crested flycatcher

Eastern kingbird

White-eyed vireo

Blue-headed vireo

Warbling vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Blue jay

American crow

Horned lark

Tree swallow

Northern rough-winged swallow

Bank swallow

Barn swallow

Black-capped chickadee

Tufted titmouse

Red-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Brown creeper

Carolina wren

House wren

Eastern bluebird

Wood thrush

American robin

Grey catbird

Northern mockingbird

Brown thrasher

European starling

Cedar waxwing

Blue-winged warbler

Nashville warbler

Northern parula

Yellow warbler

Chestnut-sided warbler

Cape May warbler

Black-throated blue warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Black-throated green warbler

Blackburnian warbler

Pine warbler

Prairie warbler

Blackpol warbler

Black and white warbler

American redstart


Common yellowthroat

Hooded warbler

Wilson’s warbler

Scarlet tanager

Eastern towhee

Chipping sparrow

Field sparrow

Savannah sparrow

Grasshopper sparrow

Song sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Northern cardinal

Rose-breasted grosbeak

Blue grosbeak

Indigo bunting


Red-winged blackbird

Common grackle

Brown-headed cowbird

Orchard oriole

Baltimore oriole

House Finch

American goldfinch

House sparrow


Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-645-2913 or e-mail to

Robert Culbert leads guided birding tours and is an ecological consultant living in Vineyard Haven.