One of the most eagerly anticipated arrivals is that of the smallest bird that lives here. The tiny ruby-throated hummingbird has been observed by 20 people, all near feeders.

The first Island hummer of the year was reported by John Nelson in Harthaven on April 19. On April 21, Robert Green made the second report of the year, and the next day Deborah Thomas saw one. On April 23, Laurie Denno observed one. The next day they were reported by Mary Beth Baptiste, Gus and Deborah Ben David, Penny Uhlendorf, Judith Searle, Norma Sigelman, Jason Flanders, Dorothy Whiting, Betsy Harrington, Scotty Goldin, and an observer whose name somehow got misplaced (oops). On April 25, they were spotted by Linda De Witt, Les Cutler, Thomas Mayhew, Deborah Thomas and Moses Gazaille. Kathy Landers and Marsha Eldridge both observed them the next day.

Bird Sightings

Just like a white winged dove.

The most unexpected sighting is that of a white-winged dove reported by Larry Hepler as it visited his feeders on April 22. There are only three sightings for this species on the e-bird website: one at Katama Farm in November 2016, one near Beetlebung Corner in May 2004, and the oldest report is of one in downtown Edgartown in October 2000.

Eastern towhees have also arrived in numbers. They are one of the most conspicuous woodland birds through the summer as they rustle through the leaf litter and loudly sing “Drink-your-teeee.” On April 21 they were seen by Holly Mercier and David Padulo. Two days later they were found by Jerry Twomey, Ann Ellery, Connie Alexander and Sarah Carr. Susan Straight, Sue Mead, Gabrielle Whitcombe, Jonathan Minker, Bridget Dunnigan, and Sea Williams found them on April 24. And Richard Price saw them on April 26.

Colorful seed-eating birds we get at this time of the year include indigo buntings and rose-breasted grosbeaks, species that have been absent so far this spring. Claire Ganz observed the bunting at her feeder on April 25, and the next day Skip MacElhannon spotted a female bunting under his feeder.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks were first spotted by Lanny McDowell at his house early on the morning of April 22. And on April 23 there were four sightings: a female at a Quenames feeder reported by Anne Whiting; two pairs elsewhere in Chilmark reported by Catherine Deese; Patsy Donovan at her feeders the same day; and Richard Price. The latter bird has stayed there at least through April 26.

Black skimmer takes a close look. — Lanny McDowell

Another arrival is a less colorful heavy-beaked finch-type bird (the field sparrow). It was seen and heard singing by Matt Pelikan on the West Tisbury side of the state forest on April 24.

Colorful warblers are starting to arrive in larger numbers. Both pine and yellow-rumped warblers have been here through the winter and migrants are showing up in larger numbers now. But birders are truly anticipate the brighter colored warblers — and here they come!

Mike Tinus spotted a yellow warbler at the Farm Pond preserve on April 19, and the next day I saw three other warblers among the spruce trees in the eastern portion of the state forest: one blue-winged, three prairie and one Canada warbler.

On April 24, Lanny McDowell, Pete Gilmore and Bob Shriber spotted some northern parulas, and on April 26 Tony Lima spotted a black-throated-blue warbler near the west arm of Lagoon Pond. This is just the tip of the iceberg. These and other warblers will start pouring in through in May.

I spotted my first barn swallows of the year in the state forest on April 20. That same day Shea Fee reported the first whip-poor-will of the season, which she heard calling again on April 24. Both eat prodigious quantities of insects!

On the waterbird front, Dan Cohen spotted the first laughing gull of the season on April 23 at Philbin Beach, while Michelle Chadwick and Jay Gamble spotted a green heron as it flew overhead on Wind Farm Circle in Oak Bluffs on April 24. Snowy egrets were observed by Jonathan Minker on April 21 at the Caroline Tuthill Preserve, while Jeff Bernier spotted one at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary on April 26. The gannet show continues as Lindsay Allison found a flock of them flying past Wasque on April 22.

The first saw-whet owl of the year was heard calling by Myron Garfinkle near his house on April 13.

Burst of color by a yellow warbler.

And of course birds are migrating out of our area as well. Our winter resident ducks are now fairly scarce. This week small numbers of red-breasted mergansers were seen by Jonathan Minker at both Sepiessa on April 19 and State Beach on April 25. Bob Shriber spotted some at Little Beach on April 21, Lindsay Allison at Wasque on April 22, and Shea Fee at Gay Head on April 24.

Bufflehead were seen by Bob Shriber at Little Beach on April 21, Richard Price at Felix Neck on April 23, and by Michelle Chadwick and Jay Gamble at Blackwater Pond on April 24.

Red crossbills continue to be present for now, but soon they will depart for their northern boreal forests. A flock of 17 was observed at Mytoi by Shea fee on April 19, while at least five were spotted by Thaw Malin and Cynthia Bloomquist at their feeders the next day. Lanny McDowell spotted nine of them in the early morning of April 22.

Northern harriers seem to be seen more frequently this week. They have been reported by Richard price at Katama on April 19, Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin in the state forest on April 21, the same day that David Padulo spotted a male (the gray ghost) at Katama Farm.

Finally, Heidi Wason saw two American woodcocks in the woods around her house near Edgartown Great Pond on April 21.

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More bird pictures.

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