As I write this week’s Bird News, I just heard that Phil, our groundhog friend in Pennsylvania, predicted another six weeks of winter, prompting social media posts of #notmygroundhog. If there is a silver lining to be found in continued sub-freezing temperatures it is that birds flock to the feeders and heated bird baths provided by charitable bird lovers around the island.

Peregrine falcon. — Lanny McDowell

Notable visitors to bird baths this week were a fox sparrow and an eastern towhee at Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin’s, a hermit thrush at Jeremy Twomey’s, and a northern mocking bird at Geoff and Norma Kontje’s, while Hans Goeckel and Lisa Maxfield both reported yellow-rumped warblers.

Unusual feeder birds reported this past week included a ruby crowned kinglet under Claire Ganz’s feeder and a golden-crowned kinglet at Tom Hodgson’s. Gabriel Carr was delighted to see a pine warbler in her window feeder while Jacqui Papale has pine and yellow-rumped warblers eating the suet and meal worms she provides. Judy McChesney reported 21 species visiting the variety of bird feeders in their yard, and this week a chipping sparrow made an appearance. Margaret Curtin, Nancy Weaver and I also observed a chipping sparrow at a yard in Katama. Eastern bluebirds can always brighten your day, and they did just that for Les Cutler and Laura Hilliard who had them visiting their yards while Deborah Bargon reported some feeding on berries in Oak Bluffs.

Yellow bellied sapsucker. — Lanny McDowell

Amy Morganthau has a Cooper’s hawk hunting in her yard while Thaw Malin and Cynthia Bloomquist reported a sharp-shinned hawk. Part of being a good host is to ensure the safety of your guests. Inevitably, you will attract one of these bird-eating hawks, but you can even the odds by placing your feeder or bird bath near some dense shrubs or by creating some dense cover a few feet away using discarded Christmas trees. Lay a couple of them down lashed to a stake in the ground or collect some sticks and pine branches to create a dense pile where the smaller birds can retreat from hunting hawks.

Other raptors reported this week were a peregrine falcon at Squibnocket, by David Damroth, and another still roosting on the Whaling Church by Margaret Curtin and Greg Palermo. Margaret also observed the kestrel at the Farm Institute on Jan. 31. Eastern screech owls were seen by Gimli Glavin in Menemsha and Ben Hughes at Felix Neck. Liz Olson heard a great horned owl calling near downtown Edgartown on Jan. 30.

Northern mockingbird. — Lanny McDowell

As it is owl breeding season, this is a good time to listen for them. Short-eared owls often hunt in the morning or afternoon, and Larry Hepler watched one at Quansoo on Jan. 27. Robyn Athearn, Claire Callaghy and Billy Jole all had the unique experience of watching a barn owl resting and hunting around the Squibnocket parking lot on the evening of Jan. 30.

A few shorebirds are still around, despite the sub-zero temperatures. Jeff Bernier photographed black bellied plovers and dunlin in Edgartown and Bob Shriber had purple sandpipers nearshore in Aquinnah, along with some continuing alcids – razorbills and dovekies.

Barn owl. — Lanny McDowell

My friend, Shay Howlin, is a compiler for the Laramie, Wyoming Christmas Bird Count, and she reminded me how fortunate we are to have a wide variety of bird species around us all winter. I finalized our Christmas Bird Count data yesterday, and set our final species count at 122, with 8 additional count week species. By comparison, Laramie’s count tallied only 37 species.

On Jan. 2, 13 teams composed of 52 birders were afield around the Island and 37 more were watching their bird feeders throughout the day. Despite poor visibility in the morning, these birdwatchers counted 23,600 birds of 122 species on count day, which is the highest bird tally since 2009 when we counted over 32,000 birds. The last time we tallied 122 species was in 2014, with eight more species added from observations within the count week.

More bird pictures.

Christmas Bird Count Results

Snow goose 2, greater white fronted goose1, brant 293, canada goose 3560, mute swan 66, wood duck cw (count week), gadwall 7, Eurasian wigeon cw, American wigeon 50, American black duck 465, mallard 629, black duck x mallard hybrid 1, northern pintail 1, green-winged teal 108, redhead 1, ring-necked duck 55, greater scaup 449, lesser scaup 13, common eider 1188, harlequin duck 33, surf scoter 345, white-winged scoter 446, black scoter 92, long-tailed duck 771, bufflehead 1249, common goldeneye 251, hooded merganser 211, common merganser 12, red-breasted merganser 885, ruddy duck cw, ring-necked pheasant 1, wild turkey 264, red-throated loon 39, common loon 145, horned grebe 6, red-necked grebe 1, northern gannet 292, double-crested cormorant 66, great cormorant 20, great blue heron 23, great egret 1, black-crowned night heron 18, turkey vulture 70, northern harrier 11, sharp-shinned hawk 5, Cooper's hawk 13, bald eagle 1, red-tailed hawk 36, Virginia rail 2, American oystercatcher 2, black-bellied plover 21, greater yellowlegs 3, sanderling 233, dunlin 51, purple sandpiper 10, American woodcock cw, dovekie 41, razorbill 21, black-legged kittiwake 70, Bonaparte's gull 4, ring-billed gull 189, herring gull 1483, lesser black-backed gull 6, great black-backed gull 318, tern species 5, rock pigeon 91, mourning dove 210, barn owl 4, eastern screech-owl 4, great horned owl 1, belted kingfisher 19, red-bellied woodpecker 77, yellow-bellied sapsucker 5, downy woodpecker 127, hairy woodpecker 21, northern flicker 66, American kestrel cw, merlin 2, peregrine falcon 1, eastern phoebe 2, blue jay 322, American crow 1922, fish crow 757, common raven 1, horned lark 95, black-capped chickadee 1187, tufted titmouse 292, red-breasted nuthatch 113, white-breasted nuthatch 159, brown creeper 9, winter wren 4, Carolina wren 215, golden-crowned kinglet 16, ruby-crowned kinglet 4, eastern bluebird 124, hermit thrush 5, American robin 826, gray catbird 11, brown thrasher 1, northern mockingbird 11, European starling 560, American pipit 29, cedar waxwing 20, snow bunting 78, black-and-white warbler 1, palm warbler 4, pine warbler 26, yellow-rumped warbler 116, yellow-breasted chat 2, grasshopper sparrow 2, American tree sparrow 5, chipping sparrow cw, field sparrow 9, fox sparrow 2, dark-eyed junco 191, white-throated sparrow 135, savannah sparrow 21, 'Ipswich' sparrow 1, song sparrow 232, Lincoln's sparrow cw, swamp sparrow  9, eastern towhee 7, northern cardinal 240, red-winged blackbird 27, eastern meadowlark 14, brown-headed cowbird 4, Baltimore oriole 1, house finch 152, purple finch 1, red crossbill 20, common redpoll cw, American goldfinch 140, house sparrow 122.

Luanne Johnson is a wildlife biologist and the Director of BiodiversityWorks, a conservation non-profit based in Vineyard Haven.