An adult bald eagle is hanging around the Vineyard. The two most recent sightings are by Glynis Hart and Bill Chaisson, who observed one on the afternoon of Feb. 13, as they drove north on Barnes Road — the eagle was flying over a clearing in the state forest. They also observed an adult bald eagle on Feb. 5 as it flew low over the south end of Lagoon Pond. Although most sightings on the Island are of immature eagles, mostly first-year birds, these two sightings are not the only sightings of adult eagles in the past year.
Bald eagles have become a lot more common in the last couple of years — we may have a breeding pair within a few years.
Ron Domurat had six eastern bluebirds visiting his feeders in Westminster Acres on Feb. 13. They were eating dried mealworms, a high protein snack.
On Feb. 11, Lisa Maxfield observed a pale male house finch at her feeders. Other normally-colored house finches accompanied him, as did some American goldfinches.
Carolina wrens are still rebounding from that severely cold and snowy winter a few years back. Allouise Waller Morgan has three of them coming to her feeder, a new species for her. There still are many feeder watchers who have not seen one of these perky little brown birds since before that fateful winter. Too bad, because they are starting to sing their loud clearly whistled two or three-syllable song.
Patricia Donovan saw a gray catbird at her suet feeder on Feb. 10. And I observed one on Feb. 12 along East Chop Drive. I was looking through the flock of gulls standing on the ice at Crystal Lake — unsuccessfully searching for something other than our usual herring, ring-billed and great black-backed gulls. When I stopped examining the gulls, I found the catbird hopping around underneath an evergreen shrub about 15 feet away from me. A welcome sighting in February — there are a few of them that spend the winter here.
I have had a flock of wintering robins near my house for over a month; I had thought there were about 15 of them, but on Feb. 12 I counted 90 robins as they slowly flew through my front yard. They are rather easy to count when every bird in the flock is moving in the same direction. Dan Bradley also observed a flock of them — he had nine of them at his bird bath at one time.
Another species that eats primarily berries at this time of the year is the cedar waxwing. Lisa Maxfield observed a flock of 20 foraging in the snow-laden trees of her Brush Pond yard on Feb. 9.
And last but not least, the annual Great Backyard Bird Count will be held over President’s Day weekend. It starts Friday (Feb. 17) and continues through Monday Feb. 20. Your participation is important; instructions for participants can be found at gbbc.birdcount.org.
Winter residents are plentiful and the first northbound migrants will soon be arriving; please look for them and report your sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Culbert leads guided birding tours and is an ecological consultant living in Vineyard Haven.