The breeding season is now in high gear, and will be the focus of this column for the next few weeks. A lot of birders think that this is the boring time of the year, but I do not share that opinion. We have over 100 species that nest on the Island and their behavior is fascinating.

Some high school students observed interesting behavior on June 4 and 5. A robin would repeatedly leave its perch on the ground and fly about six feet up into the air to attack a window. Students in several classrooms observed this behavior and were justifiably concerned. Would the robin hurt itself? Probably not, since it was not moving very fast and was more pecking at the window than flying into it.

American robin. — Lanny McDowell

But what was the robin doing? It was attacking its reflection in the window, trying to drive it out of its territory. Did it succeed? In a way, yes, as it soon clouded over and the lighting conditions changed, so the reflection was less obvious. My guess is that by the time you read this, that robin will be on a nest in one of the trees near the window.

Lanny McDowell observed a chickadee carrying a fecal sac on June 6. Adult birds do this when they have baby birds in their nest. They bring the nestlings food and remove what comes out the other end, keeping the nest clean and preventing white stains from making the nest more conspicuous. The only time the adults carry fecal sacs is when they have young in the nest, so observing this behavior tells us that their eggs have hatched.

Since the migration is mostly over, the birds mentioned below are likely nesting somewhere nearby.

Bird Sightings

Jean Fleming spotted a handsome male rose-breasted grosbeak on Bluebird Way in West Tisbury on May 28. This species did not nest here until fairly recently.

Happy and Steve Spongberg went to Aquinnah with John Flender on May 31 and found a brown thrasher near the intersection of Lobsterville and East Pasture Roads. Other thrasher sightings come from Soo Whiting at Quenames on June 2, and from Matt Pelikan on Lighthouse Road in Aquinnah on June 7.

The Spongbergs also found great crested flycatchers and phoebes at Gay Head Morraine on May 31, and on June 6 they observed ovenbirds on Bijah’s Way and Old Farm Road.

Horned larks were observed by Rosemary Hildreth at State Beach on June 3. For many years, the best place to see this shy species has been between the Big Bridge and the Jabberwocky handicapped access parking area on State Beach. Their soft, high pitched tinkling song is well worth the effort to hear it, and is often heard before the birds are found.

Terry Morrison was in Oak Bluffs and found a nest containing baby robins near Eastaway on June 3.

Susan Straight reports that the ospreys nesting at Quitsa Pond have hatched their chicks by June 4.

Lanny McDowell observed cedar waxwings at Fulling Mill Brook on June 4.

Bonnie George observed a Baltimore oriole at Quansoo on June 4, and on June 5 Lindsay Allison reported her first oriole at Snow’s Point on Chappaquiddick. I am still waiting for “my” orioles to return to my yard.

On June 6, my guided birding tour got good views of an ovenbird in the woods near the northeast corner of the MV airport. Later, we also observed something I had never seen before, an aggressive willet dive-bombing a turkey vulture that was soaring over Norton Point.

Lanny McDowell birded Norton Point on June 7 and found no migrating shorebirds, but he found a salt marsh sparrow in the marsh at the western end of the beach. This sparrow is not all that rare; it just spends most of its time amidst the marsh grass, and it is safe to say that its song is from soft to barely audible. But Luanne Johnson reports that she has found them in every saltmarsh she surveyed in the past three years.

On that same trip, Mr. McDowell also found a dead thick-billed murre washed up on the ocean-side beach.

House wrens have finally turned up this spring. They are not a particularly common nester on the Vineyard, but early in the morning on June 7, I heard about six to eight house wrens in Edgartown between Crocker Drive and the southeast corner of the state forest. Other Edgartown sightings are from Cookie Gazaille Perry at Pilgrim Road and Luanne Johnson near Snow’s Point on Chappy. Apparently this species has now established a population in Edgartown, although I have yet to observe the pair that has nested at the state forest headquarters in recent years. Other recent sightings are by Matt Pelikan in Aquinnah and a pair at Phillips Preserve noted by Penny Uhlendorf.

Hummingbirds may be recovering from their nests-with-eggs shyness that was reported last week. Sue Shea had two at her feeder on June 8, and Soo Whiting, Katherine Long, Charlie Kernick, Nelson Smith and Debby Lobb Athearn have observed them coming back to their feeders.

There are lots of birds around, so please get out looking for them, and be sure to report your bird sightings to

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