This past weekend was the Great Backyard Bird Count, an international event where anybody can submit the birds they see between February 12-15. Your results can be seen online within minutes of submitting the report. As of Monday evening, there have been more than 122,000 checklists from around the world, reporting 4,947 species, about half of all the species in the world.

Bald eagle pair on Valentine's Day. — Lanny McDowell

In Massachusetts, 2521 checklists have been submitted totaling 147 species.

On Martha’s Vineyard, 44 checklists have been submitted totaling 56 species. There are no unexpected birds reported. The most interesting observation I reported was of a peregrine falcon being momentarily harassed and half-heartedly dive-bombed by a flock of 150 fish crows as they flew over the eastern shoreline of the Lagoon Pond.

These totals will increase as the week progresses. It is not too late to add your birds. I encourage you to submit the species you observed between Feb. 12 and 15.

Bird Sightings

The best sighting of the week has to be Alex Friedman’s sighting of four subadult bald eagles on Oyster Pond on Feb. 13. That is not a typo. Four eagles at one time is undoubtedly a record for the Vineyard. Lanny McDowell got to see three of them on Feb. 14 and opines that one is a second winter bird and another is likely a fourth or fifth winter bird. He was unable to age the third individual he saw. He comments that Oyster Pond was opened to the ocean recently and that gulls, crows, great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, common mergansers and eagles are all taking advantage of a suddenly more vulnerable fish population.

Long-tailed duck. — Lanny McDowell

The next best sighting is what appears to be a lesser Canada goose observed by Ken Magnuson on Feb. 11. It was noticeably smaller than the “normal” Canada geese that we have throughout the year, and so is likely a migrant. We do not see this subspecies very often, which reminds us to pay more attention to the flocks we see around the Island.

On Feb. 14, Mr. McDowell also spotted a brown thrasher and two eastern towhees along the edge of a plowed dirt road near the airport. These and other species that are overwintering at the northern edges of their winter ranges often head to road edges when snow covers their normal haunts. It is amazing the amount of food they can find in those narrow and very linear habitats.

Susan Straight reports 35 greater scaup and 10 black ducks on Lovey’s Cove on Quitsa Pond on Feb. 14.

Feeder activity also picks up with the snow cover. Christy Edwards had a male northern flicker hanging out at or above her suet feeder on Feb. 13. On Feb. 9, Mr. McDowell observed a red-breasted nuthatch at his feeder, which is unusual as there are not very many of them around this winter. He also has visiting pine warblers and chipping sparrows as well as the more ubiquitous chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches. Dan Bradley was happy to report that a red-bellied woodpecker at his feeder on Feb. 9.

Cedar waxwing finds a meal. — Lanny McDowell

Tim Leland observed a flock of 18 cedar waxwings in his Chappaquiddick yard on Feb. 15.

Dark-eyed juncos have joined the array of birds at my feeder in the past few days. a Carolina wren is also a regular visitor. One of the chickadees was behaving oddly on Feb. 14, as it was hanging out at the feeder eating seed after seed. Normally they grab a seed then leave to crack it open and eat it. Well, it was four degrees below zero that morning.

Charlie Kernick, Christy Edwards and Sharon Simonin observed another odd behavior over the weekend. A red-tailed hawk was observed eating a herring gull near the Big Bridge on State Beach. This event was observed on Feb. 11, 12, and 13. Is it the same red-tail that has learned about a new source of food?

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

Photos of recent bird sightings on the Vineyard.