While the breeding season is well underway, with most of our nesting birds already back singing mightily as they establish territories and nests. But some migrants are still passing through to their more northern nesting grounds.

Three transient warblers were spotted over the past couple of weeks. On May 22 Paige Wasson and James Coombs found a Cape May warbler at Cedar Tree Neck. On May 31 David Padulo heard one singing at Menemsha Hills and he also found a palm warbler there that day.

There are also two sightings of a magnolia warbler, both on May 29. Betty Surbeck watched one in West Tisbury, as did David Benvent at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary. Of course our resident warblers — ovenbird, blue-winged warbler, black and white warbler, common yellowthroat, American redstart, northern parula, yellow warbler, pine warbler and prairie warbler — have all been heard and seen this past week.

White-rumped sandpiper. — Lanny McDowell

Shorebirds are passing through as well, with the following sightings from Norton Point Beach. On May 29, Susan Whiting and Bob Shriber spotted a white-rumped sandpiper. There have been three reports of short-billed dowitchers: Bob Shriber spotted two on May 29; Jeff Bernier photographed two on May 31; and Sam Scarfone and David Benvent found one on June 2. Red knots — dependent on horseshoe crab eggs at this time of the year — were observed by multiple observers. Susan Whiting and Bob Shriber found six on May 29, Jeff Bernier photographed seven on May 31 and Sam Scarfone and David Benvent saw five on June 2.

Also observed have been shorebirds with maximum counts of nesting species: 46 American oystercatchers (including 26 chicks), 26 piping plovers, and nine willets. The following transient species have also been seen: 26 black-bellied plovers, 132 ruddy turnstones, 74 sanderling, three semi-palmated sandpipers and five dunlin. Observers include David Benvent, Sam Scarfone, Bob Shriber and Susan Whiting,

Snowy egrets seem to be making a comeback from their recent near-total absence. Hopefully, these smallish, elegant, white egrets with the golden slippers (their feet) will regain their former abundance. There was a nesting colony of at least 300 breeding pairs on Cape Pogue in the early to mid 1980s.

Snowy egret. — Lanny McDowell

Sarah Quadt spotted one snowy egret at the northern end of Lake Tashmoo on June 1. Stuart Santos saw one in the salt marshes at the southern end of Sengekontacket Pond on June 1. Dennis Main found it the next day, and the duo of Pete Gilmore and Lanny McDowell found two there that day. Also on June 2, Dana Bangs observed one along Lagoon Pond. And on June 3 Richard Price found one in a marsh along the Boulevard in Ocean Heights in Edgartown.

Sightings of snowy owls are captivating, and increased the popularity of bird watching as a sport. Recall that nine years ago we had 25 of these large owls present for most of the winter, and everyone wanted to see them. Their numbers gradually declined to seven fairly brief sightings in the 2021-2022 winter. This past winter there were only one or possibly two brief appearances, more typical of historical sightings. I fear that the wintertime irruption of snowy owls has now returned to the historical pattern.

Two other winter resident species have left for the season. Several hundred brant frequent Ocean Park and the waters from West Chop to Edgartown every winter. They were last seen on May 1 at Felix Neck. White-throated sparrows frequented many a feeder in the winter; the last ones were seen May 21 at Felix Neck and May 22 at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary. Both species will return in the fall.

Common eiders are a different story. They are abundant in the winter but only a few individuals — mostly young males, I think — linger through the summer. Chris Scott saw one at State Beach on May 31. David Benvent may have seen the same bird at Harthaven on June 1. Sharon and Michael Pratt found one at Farm Pond the same day. David Benvent and Sam Scarfone observed one from Norton Point Beach on June 2. On June 3 David Benvent spotted a small flock of eight at Lobsterville Beach.

Felix Neck’s annual Bird-a-Thon was held May 12 and 13. The weather was favorable for finding birds. We found the 130 species listed below:

Black-capped chickadee. — Lanny McDowell

Canada goose, mute swan, American black duck, mallard, common eider, surf scoter, white-winged scoter, black scoter, bufflehead, common merganser, red-breasted merganser, wild turkey, horned grebe, rock pigeon, mourning dove, Chuck-will’s-widow, eastern whip-poor-will, chimney swift, ruby-throated hummingbird, Virginia rail, American oystercatcher, black-bellied plover, American golden-plover and piping plover.

Also: killdeer, ruddy turnstone, sanderling, dunlin, least sandpiper, semipalmated sandpiper, short-billed dowitcher, American woodcock, greater yellowlegs, willet, lesser yellowlegs, laughing gull, ring-billed gull, herring gull, great black-backed gull, least tern, roseate tern, common tern, dovekie, black skimmer, red-throated loon, common loon, northern gannet, double-crested cormorant, great cormorant, great blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, green heron, black-crowned night-heron, turkey vulture, osprey, northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, broad-winged hawk and red-tailed hawk.

Short-billed dowitcher. — Lanny McDowell

The list continues with barn owl, eastern screech-owl, belted kingfisher, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, eastern wood-pewee, least flycatcher, eastern phoebe, great crested flycatcher, eastern kingbird, white-eyed vireo, blue-headed vireo, red-eyed vireo, blue jay, American crow, fish crow, common raven, tree wallow, northern rough-winged swallow, bank swallow, barn swallow, black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, red-breasted nuthatch, white-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, ruby-crowned kinglet, blue-gray gnatcatcher, house wren, Carolina wren, European starling, gray catbird, northern mockingbird, eastern bluebird, wood thrush, American robin, house sparrow, house finch, purple finch, American goldfinch, eastern towhee, chipping sparrow, field sparrow, Savannah sparrow, song sparrow, white-throated sparrow and red-winged blackbird.

And finally: common grackle, brown-headed cowbird, orchard oriole, Baltimore oriole, ovenbird, Nashville warbler, common yellowthroat, American redstart, northern parula, blackburnian warbler, yellow warbler, blackpoll warbler, pine warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, prairie warbler, black-throated green warbler, scarlet tanager, northern cardinal, rose-breasted grosbeak and indigo bunting.

A really good total!

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Please email your sightings to birds@vineyardgazette.com.

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