Recent evidence suggest that songbirds have joined the southward procession of migrating birds.

As their name suggests, western kingbirds live in the western half of the country (occasionally bird names are accurate descriptors) but some wander eastward on their southbound migration. While most will be found later in the year, Matt Pelikan spotted one at Wasque on August 16. Shortly after he spotted it, the bird flew off to the northeast and was not seen again.

Blue jay — Lanny McDowell

I have received reports of ruby-throated hummingbirds from Carine Mitchell in Aquinnah and Ken LaVigne in Edgartown. Jane Culbert spotted one visiting the fuchsia on my deck on August 17, which is the first one seen in my yard since May. While hummers nest here, I expect that some of these birds are migrants from elsewhere, as mid-to-late August is their peak migration period. Keep an eye on large stands of orange-blooming jewelweed (touch-me-nots, usually found near wetlands), where you may see swarms of hummers visiting the flowers.

Bluejays appear to be on the move as well. In an average year their migration begins in late August, and I have been seeing flocks of them passing through my yard, always working their way through the treetops from east to west.

On Nantucket, a male hooded warbler was seen on August 19, a species whose closest nesting takes place in southwest New England.

Bird Sightings

Immature bald eagle. — Lanny McDowell

Lanny McDowell reports there was an unconfirmed sighting of an Hudsonian Godwit at Black Point Pond on August 16. An experienced observer saw it, but it was a tad too far off for a positive identification, as there are several other shorebird species with long up-turned bills. So keep your eyes out. He also comments that immature laughing gulls are becoming quite abundant, which is common at this time of the year. John Banks reports that there was a bluefish feeding frenzy off Lighthouse Beach in Edgartown on August 15. Participating in the frenzy from the air were common terns and three Cory’s shearwaters.

An immature bald eagle is in the news, as there have been several reports from the state forest and Goodale’s pit area. John Best saw one on August 14 — a large dark raptor with a flat wingspan. Three others, Mariah BenDavid, Billy Jean Sullivan and Mike Tinus, each report likely eagle sightings in that area. Distinguishing eagles from turkey vultures is not too difficult. Immature eagles have massive heads and white spotting on their undersides, while turkey vultures are dark with lighter feathers along the trailing edge of their wing. An immature bald eagle was spotted on Nantucket by Skyler Kardell and Will Schenck on August 19.

Warren Woessner kayaked around the northern coves of Edgartown Great Pond on August 17 and spotted three spotted sandpipers. Sarah Mayhew also saw one on August 14 at Quansoo. This past month this species has been observed more frequently than usual. She also found an immature piping plover at Quansoo, though most of them have already departed for points south. Other shorebird news: in addition to the usual small sandpipers and plovers that have been around for a few weeks, Jeff Bernier spotted a lesser yellowlegs at Little Beach on August 9.

A whimbrel at Quansoo was the best bird spotted on the Chilmark Community Center’s August 13 bird walk, led by Susan Whiting and Warren Woessner. Then at Quansoo on August 18, Ms. Whiting was joined by Luanne Johnson, Margaret Curtin, Nancy Weaver and Lanny McDowell, and they found immature black skimmers, roseate terns, white-rumped sandpiper and willets.

Ruby-throated hummingbird. — Lanny McDowell

This month near Lobsterville Carine Mitchell saw a common loon, a flock of 100 double-crested cormorants, great crested flycatcher, yellow warbler, Carolina wren, chipping sparrows, gray catbirds, juvenile red-tailed hawk, barn swallows, white-breasted nuthatch and black-capped chickadees.

A show not to be missed is coming up. Lanny McDowell and David Stanwood will be performing their Avian Improv at the Edgartown Library on Sept. 28 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Put the date in your calendar.

Southbound migrants are showing up more frequently now. Please report your sightings to

More photos.

Robert Culbert is an ecological consultant with Nature Watch LLC living in Vineyard Haven.