The invasion continues. The recon or advanced guard were the pine siskins and purple finches. They came from the barren North Country seeking habitat that provided food as they could find none there. Next, the main forces arrived. These species arrived in waves and included the evening grosbeaks, then the white-winged crossbills and finally the red crossbills. There is always a chance that common or hoary redpolls will bring up the rear, so watch your feeders and fields for two other finches escaping the food-free North Country.

Bird Sightings

Terns have been in the news. On Nov. 4 David Stanwood photographed a Foster’s tern at Lake Tashmoo. Nine days later Jackson Keith snapped a picture of a Foster’s tern flying over Edgartown harbor. Allan Keith spotted a common tern with two Bonaparte’s gulls at Menemsha on Nov. 7.

Bert Fischer first saw ruddy ducks in early November and by Nov. 8 he counted 75 ruddy ducks, 30 buffleheads and 10 hooded mergansers on Squibnocket Pond. Then on Nov. 10 Bert watched a Virginia rail cross the road near Herring Creek in Gay Head and counted close to 200 tree swallows flying over the dunes at Gay Head. Back at his feeder he found 50 red-winged blackbirds, six American tree sparrows and in the field one eastern meadowlark.

On Nov. 8 Lanny McDowell photographed two sandpipers on the wing at Katama and once he loaded the shots onto his computer he was able to identify them as late-staying, white-rumped sandpipers. The same day Bob Shriber found a single American golden plover at Herring Creek Farm. Flip Harrington and I saw a single American golden plover at Herring Creek Farm on Nov. 12, probably the same one.

Mike Zoll reported an osprey at Duarte’s Pond on Nov. 8 and Anne Lemenager emailed me that the crows are commuting from the mainland in numbers again. They arrive en masse at East Chop at around 3 p.m. This flock should be checked for fish crows.

Sue Silva told me that she watched a very late migrating hummingbird feeding at her salvia blossoms on Nov. 7. The same day, evening grosbeaks arrived at her Indian Hill feeders and she counted 30 brown-headed cowbirds gorging themselves at the same feeders. One would presume the hummingbird was a ruby-throated, but at this late date it might be another species.

Allan Keith found 10 white-winged crossbills and a northern shrike at Gay Head on Nov. 9.

The same day Bob Shriber joined Flip Harrington and me at Black Point where we had good birding. Our best bird was a seaside sparrow, and in second place was a marsh wren. We also spotted a lesser black-backed gull, a northern gannet offshore, gadwall, American wigeon, American coots, American pipits and a Wilson’s snipe.

The next day, Nov. 10, Lanny McDowell and Melissa Keeler went to Black Point to find the wren and sparrow. They found the wren, didn’t find the seaside sparrow but did find a yellow-breasted chat, a peregrine falcon, four greater yellowlegs, two green-winged teal and an Ipswich sparrow. That afternoon Flip Harrington and I returned to Black Point and couldn’t find either the wren nor the sparrow but did find green-winged teal, greater yellowlegs, three northern harriers, the lesser black-backed gull, a gray catbird, a white-crowned sparrow and good numbers of tree swallows.

At Katama Jeff Bernier photographed a pale western morph palm warbler. At Lobsterville Allan Keith found a yellow-bellied sapsucker and an American tree sparrow. At the Hoft’s farm on Lambert’s Cove Road Allan found one fish crow in a flock of American crows.

Rob Culbert found a brown creeper in his Vineyard Haven yard on Nov. 11 and two snow geese off Slough Cove Road in Katama.

At Aquinnah Bob Shriber found four purple sandpipers and both red-throated and common loons off Philbin beach. He also has been hearing many hermit thrush calls near his Aquinnah home.

In Edgartown at the Sherriff’s Meadow Reserve pond, Michael Ditchfield photographed a winter wren on Nov. 11.

Michelle Aluia was driving down Takemmy Trail between West Tisbury and Edgartown on Nov. 12. By Deep Bottom she spotted a bird alongside the road. She carefully brought it back to her home where the stunned bird recovered and flew off. This is the first red crossbill sighting for the Vineyard this winter.

Flip Harrington and I birded Katama on Nov. 12. Our best birds were a flock of around 50 snow buntings flying over the dunes at Norton Point. We also spotted 25 horned larks, eastern meadowlark and brown-headed cowbirds in the Farm Institute fields, a red-breasted merganser and greater yellowlegs in Katama Bay. Back at Black Point, Flip Harrington and Frank Fenner watched flocks of tree swallows heading toward Aquinnah.

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

Susan B. Whiting is the co-author of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her website is