Red crossbill. — Lanny McDowell

The eastern towhee, perhaps the Island’s most iconic species, has started its return. Small numbers of them stay through the winter but in the summer they are perhaps the most abundant woodland species. Their older common name — rufous-sided towhee — is an accurate and descriptive name.

Sioux Eagle has had a female eastern towhee at her feeders since January. But things changed on April 14, when Chris Scott spotted six of them at Bold Meadow and Bob Shriber observed two at the Gay Head Cliffs. There were three reports of towhees the next day: Nancy Nordin saw one at the Gay Head Cliffs, Jane and Jed Katch found one in their yard, and Janet Sigler found one near Edgartown Great Pond.

On April 16 there were five more sightings. Ned Casey observed one in Edgartown, Margaret Curtin watched two at John Presbury Norton Farm in West Tisbury, Nevine Jacob reported three at Felix Neck, Wendy Culbert and I heard two at Blackwater Pond Reservation, and Nick Teague recorded two at Seven Gates Farm.

Chipping sparrow. — Lanny McDowell

Chipping sparrows are another fairly common arrival this week. Albert Fischer saw one at his West Tisbury feeders in early April but has not seen it since. Scott Stephens and Penny Uhlendorf had one show up at their Vineyard Haven feeders on April 9. Also that day, Joan Burden observed one at her feeders at Woodside Village.

Matt Pelikan heard his first chipping sparrow of the year at the BiodiversityWorks office off Lambert’s Cove Road on April 11. Nancy Nordin found one in her yard on April 14 and another on April 15 at the Gay Head Cliffs. Shea Fee reports three at Waskosim’s Rock on April 16.

Four other species arrived this week. Shelley Scheuer reports a bright orange and black, male Baltimore oriole visiting her West Tisbury feeders on April 13. Shea Fee was the first to hear our iconic and noisy nocturnal eastern whip-poor-will on April 13; it was chanting from the Pocha Pond Trail at Wasque. Bob Shriber spotted a field sparrow on April 14 at the Gay Head Cliffs, and Sea Williams and Bridget Dunnigan found two field sparrows at the state forest headquarters on April 15.

Baltimore oriole. — Lanny McDowell

Perhaps the most enigmatic species of all reported here is the yellow-throated warbler. Shawn Emin saw one along John Hoft Road in Vineyard Haven on April 6. He writes that while he was sitting in his truck, “this friendly bird was very interested in his appearance as he flew back and forth between the mirrors on my truck.”

We have had many reports of this species between John Hoft Road and the BiodiversityWorks office since 2019, all of which have been of single birds, ex

cept for one report of two birds together last June 30. I think they nest here but we need evidence in the form of nest building or feeding young. A lingering and unexpected find reported in last week’s column was a hooded warbler. Joan and Barry Burden spotted it again at the Aquinnah Cultural Center on April 11. It has likely moved on, as it has not been reported since then.

Field sparrow. — Lanny McDowell

Shea Fee found a kestrel at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport on April 14. Ospreys are just about everywhere, repairing nests and building new ones. Some nests may be built in unsafe locations such as chimney tops or near power lines. If you see such a nest please report it to Gus Ben David by contacting the county communications center at 508-693-1212. A hearty thank you to Eversource Electric for helping Gus protect these birds.

Lingering waterfowl are still widespread across the Island, though how much longer they will stay is uncertain. Bob Shriber reports that two harlequins were still present at Moshup Beach on April 13. The next day from the Gay Head Cliffs he spotted all three species of scoters: five surf, two white-winged and 75 black scoters, and 27 red-breasted mergansers. John Nelson found 14 bufflehead at the north end of Sengekontacket Pond on April 5. I saw a dozen of them on April 17 in the west arm of Lagoon Pond.

News of the puddle ducks: on April 9 Patsy Donovan observed three pairs of wood ducks at Cranberry Acres; on April 8 Rich Couse saw two woodies at the Hoft Farm; and in early April Randy Rynd had a female visiting the small pond in her Vineyard Haven yard. A male pintail is still present at Brush Pond, most recently seen by Lisa Maxfield on April 15. Wendy Culbert and I spotted a pair of gadwall on April 16 at the Blackwater Reservation.

Eastern whip-poor-will egg. — Lanny McDowell

Brant are still at Ocean Park. Nevine Jacob counted 30 there on April 16, the same day that Nick Teague spotted a separate flock of 39 on Harlock Pond at Seven Gates Farm.

Bob Shriber reports lingering seabirds at Moshup Beach on April 13 including a red-necked grebe and 35 gannets. The next day there were three gannets and two great cormorants, along with 42 of our summer resident double-crested cormorants, and one common raven — all at the Gay Head Cliffs.

A lingering winter resident is the dark-eyed junco, which will soon depart to more northern nesting grounds. There are six recent reports: on April 11 Nancy Nordin saw two on the west side of Lake Tashmoo; on April 13 Lanny McDowell spotted some near his Vineyard Haven house; and on April 14 Nancy Nordin observed five at her West Tisbury feeders and saw two more the next day at the Gay Head Cliffs. Nick and Charles Teague found three on April 16 at Seven Gates Farm.

Dark-eyed junco. — Lanny McDowell

Richard Price watched a solitary junco on April 16 at Felix Neck. David Padulo saw one at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary on April 17.

Finally: one of our favorite native tick-eating species is the scarce northern bobwhite. On April 15 Warren Woessner reports that there were three bobwhites feeding under his feeders.

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