David Stanwood, musician extraordinaire, recently made two astute observations: a recording and research on fish crows. He noticed “a procession of hundreds, maybe thousands of crows flying over our house and over Hoft Farm front field towards Long View.” David thought he heard what he noted was something “fishy,” so he made a recording of the call of the migrating crows. He has posted this call at stanwoodpiano.com/CommuterCrows2012-03-15.mp3.

David contacted Lanny McDowell who suggested David check the Cornell Laboratory of Sound and compare the recording with one on file at Cornell. David got a matching sound which can be heard at macaulaylibrary.org/audio/13417/corvus-ossifragus-fish-crow-united-states-new-jersey-dwight-chamberlain.

“There seem to be lots of fish crows that come to the Island each night,” David continued. “This group roosts up in Long View in a hollow.”

Thanks for further proof positive that fish crows are on Martha’s Vineyard. It will be interesting to see if the fish crows continue to roost here in the summer months.


Bird Sightings

I received an update from Dick Jennings on one of the osprey that were fitted with a satellite transmitter by Rob Bierregaard.

“Belle, our Tashmoo youngster, 2010 alumni, has finally headed home,” Dick reported.

Dick spoke with Rob who will be posting the data at some point. Dick also added a final note of thanks to Adam Moore of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation for clearing the access to Rusty Walton/Priscilla Hancock Beach so he can monitor the ospreys there. They first nested last summer and have returned for the second year. Dick expects that nest site to remain active in the future.

Ken Magnuson photographed an American oystercatcher at Katama Bay and found a Web site of American Oystercatcher Working Group at amoywg.org. The site shows that the bird Ken photographed had yellow bands, so was banded in New Jersey.

On March 17 Morgan Hodgson and Bill Lake counted eight American oystercatchers on Menemsha Pond.

On April 8 Eleanor Waldron spotted northern harriers at the Sheriff’s Meadow Hancock Preserve. Bert Fischer spotted his first of the season off Moshup’s Trail in Aquinnah on April 15.

On April 11 Liz Baldwin, Margaret Curtin and Luanne Johnson saw a great egret on Chappaquiddick. Penny Uhlendorf and Scott Stephens heard Eastern towhees singing at Pilot Hill on April 12 and now they say the towhees are singing everywhere.

On April 13 Matt Pelikan saw the first barn swallow of the season by the SSA in Vineyard Haven. On April 14 Matt heard field sparrows calling at the Correllus State Forest.

Howard Pierce and Michele Sorenson reported the first bank swallows of the year at Lucy Vincent Beach on April 13. They also counted fourteen harlequin ducks, two purple sandpipers, four ospreys and a belted kingfisher. At their home off Tea Lane, the couple had two pine warblers and a turkey vulture on April 14.

Larry Hepler counted four fluffy, fledgling American woodcocks following their mother at Quansoo on April 14.

Tom Rivers reports seeing a purple martin by the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury on April 14; the first he has seen on-Island in many years. The next day he watched an Eastern phoebe bathing in his backyard pond off Tea Lane.

Margaret Curtin spotted the first ruby-throated hummingbird of the season at Nancy Weaver’s house on the Lagoon on April 14.

Happy Spongberg heard Baltimore orioles tuning up by Cronig’s Market on April 15. On April 17 Happy and her husband, Steve, spotted a brown thrasher and two house wrens and heard many Eastern towhees at Menemsha Hills Preserve.

April 16 Luanne Johnson and Liz Baldwin found the first American oystercatcher egg of the season in a nest by Chilmark Pond.

Nat Woodruff reports an American coot in the Lagoon on April 17. Gail Tipton sighted a male ring-necked pheasant in her West Tisbury yard on April 16.


Please report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard Bird Hotline at 508-645-2913 or e-mail to birds@mvgazette.com. Susan B. Whiting is the co-author of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her Web site is vineyardbirds2.com.