Like many tourists, the red-shouldered hawk has for a long time been a frequent visitor to the Vineyard, arriving from the mainland but never choosing to set down roots. This spring, however, what is believed to be the first nesting pair on the Island was discovered in West Tisbury by Island photographer Wayne Smith.

Mr. Smith spotted the adult pair of red-shouldered hawks and their three newborn chicks in an oak tree adjacent to his property. When he first saw the birds, he assumed they were one of the few common species of hawk native to the Island. It wasn’t until he consulted with local bird experts and used an identification app on his phone that he understood the anomaly living near his backyard.

“It’s a common hawk in America — on the mainland, Florida, parts of the south and even New England — but for some reason we haven’t had one here,” Mr. Smith said. “To be having nesting pairs is unheard of.”

Mr. Smith does not consider himself a “hardcore birder” but is passionate about birds as photographic subjects and can identify several species by their call alone.

At home with the red-shouldered hawk family. — Wayne Smith

The deck attached to Mr. Smith’s neighbor’s hilltop home provides the perfect vantage point for photographing and observing the nest, which is barely visible through the unfolding summer foliage. His brand-new Nikon Z8 camera, equipped with a powerful zoom lens and tele-extender, allows him to keep an eye on the family and help other bird enthusiasts do the same.

“It created quite a buzz,” Mr, Smith said. “There’s been a number of birders that have come over to get up onto the deck to check it out.”

Robert Culbert, the Gazette’s bird columnist, said it was only a matter of time before the red-shouldered hawk, which is common on the Cape, took up permanent residence on the Island. In his column this week, he notes that other bird species with stable mainland populations, such as the great horned owl, have made a similar transition in the past.

According to Wayne Petersen, who serves as director of the Massachusetts Important Bird Area Program for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the timing of the birds’ appearance on the Island makes sense given that the red-shouldered hawk population is booming on the mainland. He nonetheless expressed excitement about the discovery.

“The bottom line is, it’s a rare bird,” he said.

While the great horned owl has established thriving Island populations after crossing over from the mainland, Mr. Culbert says it’s impossible to predict the future of the red-shouldered hawk on the Vineyard after the pair’s fuzzy, gray chicks come of age.

“They might return to the same site, they might return to a different site on the Island, or they might head back to the Cape,” Mr. Culbert said. “Who knows?”