There are young birds in our yards, woods, fields and on our beaches. Their antics are fun to watch and their presence confirms that this species has indeed nested here.

Jo-Ann Eccher reports that a second brood of mourning doves has fledged from a nest in her Aquinnah yard this year. Lanny McDowell saw a juvenile mourning dove at Katama on June 22. There are two reports of young turkeys this week. Ariel Wilmott found 14 turkeys with youngsters at Felix Neck on June 28 and Seth Buddy saw five with young near the beach between Mink Meadows and West Chop on June 29.

Downy woodpecker feeds its young.. — Lanny McDowell

Cynthia Bloomquist and Thaw Malin note that downy woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice are feeding young at their West Tisbury house on June 30, while back on June 21 they saw a great crested flycatcher carrying food to its youngsters in a nest box, in addition to a gray catbird with fledged young.

Caroline Heald found a chickadee nest with babies in it at Cedar Tree Neck on June 27. Steve Allen observed tree swallows with fledglings at Felix Neck on June 29, the same day that I spotted 11 bank swallows and two rough-winged swallows flying in and out of nest cavities in the coastal banks of Cedar Tree Neck. Caroline Heald spotted a Carolina wren feeding its young at Seven Gates on June 22.

Youngsters are not unique to landbirds. I saw a mallard with five ducklings at John Butler’s Mudhole on June 27, Caroline Heald observed six wood ducks including one juvenile at the Wakeman Center Ponds on June 24 and Mike Shaw saw five willets, including three chicks at South Beach State Park on June 27. Hatchling least terns, common terns, American oystercatchers and piping plovers are present on multiple Island beaches.

The southward migration is picking up speed. The trickle of birds passing through now are mostly breeding plumaged shorebirds that nested in the Arctic tundra. Most notable of these sightings are two white-rumped sandpipers spotted by Chris Schmandt, who notes the presence of the sharp white patch across the base of their tails that is seen when they are flying. I saw a peep — a group of five similar-looking small sandpipers — that I could not identify to species at John Butlers Mudhole on June 27.

Ruby-throated hummingbird. — Lanny McDowell

Both greater and lesser yellowlegs have been found this week. Christine and Ken Cooper found one greater at Sengekontacket Pond near Trapp’s Pond on June 23, Sabrina Giardullo had two greaters at Farm Pond on June 24 and I observed both a greater and a lesser — side by side no less — at John Butlers Mudhole on June 27. Tom Stoye watched a lesser yellowlegs at Lake Tashmoo on June 25, Matt Pelikan, Nancy Nordin, and Pete Gilmore all saw one at Long Point on June 29 and Steve Allen discovered a yellowlegs at Felix Neck on June 27 that he could not identify to species. Unfortunately, we cannot identify to species everything we see.

Other shorebird sightings include Nancy Weaver finding one ruddy turnstone and an unidentified peep at Norton Point on June 27, Warren Woessner observed three black-bellied plovers and one short-billed dowitcher on Norton Point on June 28, while Caroline Heald saw four spotted sandpipers off Makonikey on June 30.

Lesser black-backed gulls now seem to be year-round visitors, as they have been seen every month for the past year. This week seven observers have spotted them. Scott Dresser saw one on Norton Point June 22, Tom Stoye one at Lake Tashmoo June 26, Warren Woessner two on Norton Point on June 28, Matt Pelikan, Molly Jacobson and Shea Fee three at Long Pont June 29 and Philip Edmundson two on West Tisbury south shore June 30.

This summer black skimmers are nesting on Norton Point but they have been found as far north as Sengekontacket Pond near Felix Neck — seen by Steve Allen, Sara Becker and Matt Johnson — and as far west as Tisbury Great Pond as seen by Nancy Nordin, Pete Gilmore, Molly Jacobson, Chris Schmandt and Matt Pelikan. Jennifer Slossberg and Philip Edmundson have both seen them at or near Watcha Pond on June 23 and on June 29, respectively. 

Lesser yellowlegs. — Lanny McDowell

The most recent sighting of a horned grebe was in Aquinnah on April 20, seen by Matt Born. Now, more than two months later, Seth Buddy has had multiple sightings of a horned grebe in nearly full breeding plumage in Vineyard Sound between West Chop and Mink Meadows from June 25 to 29.

Matt Born saw a peregrine falcon along Clay Pit Road in Aquinnah on June 25 and Molly Jacobson found a merlin along Katama Road near Katama Farm on June 25. Charles Morano observed one barn owl as it flew across the road in broad daylight along South Road on June 24 and a second one flying along the Chappaquiddick side of Edgartown Harbor after dark on June 28.

There were three sightings of ruby-throated hummingbirds this week—Cynthia Bloomquist spotted three at her West Tisbury home on June 28, Seth Buddy has seen one daily between West Chop and Mink Meadows from June 27 to 30 and both Matt Pelikan and Rich Couse observed one at Long Point on June 29.

How many bobwhites are there near Oak Bluffs? Steve Allen found two at Felix Neck on June 20 and Pam Coblyn heard one in Hidden Cove on June 21. There is at least one at Waterview Farm as John Banks and Kitty and John Culbert have heard them calling. Anne Whiting has heard them at Farm Neck and on East Chop this summer and both Tom Chase and Matt Pelikan have heard them between Wing Road and Vineyard avenue. Could all these reports be from one or two males moving around town in search of other quail? We hope there are more but after Seth Buddy found one between West Chop and Mink Meadows on June 29 and 30, he commented “Hooray. Immediate nostalgia for summers of my youth!”

Please email your sightings to

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

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