What in the world are scoders, grebes, eiders, yellowlegs, godwits, warblers, and
plovers? They are just a few birds that can be found on Cape Cod and the Islands.
You may also come across bald eagles, peregrine falcons, orioles, wrens, mallards,
black ducks, northern harriers, and possibly a great horned or barred owl. Not only
is the area home to countless birds, but its many marshes and ponds serve as rest
stops for hundreds of other species heading south for the winter.
Rare bird sightings are exciting events, and the Cape and Islands have had their
fair share. One of the most significant sightings was on Nantucket where a western
reef heron was discovered. This bird normally calls Western Africa home, and it
was the first sighting of this type in North America. In Wellfleet, a lazuli bunting
was spotted. Although not a rare bird, its appearing on Cape Cod was thrilling to
bird watchers as this species had never been spotted east of Kansas. Martha’s Vineyard’s
claim to birding fame occurred when a cuckoo arrived on its shores. Cuckoos, which
have rarely been seen in North America, live primarily in Europe and Asia and spend
their winters in Central and Southern Africa.
Although some birding can be experienced by simply stepping out the door, you can
view a wider range of birds at popular birding locations in the area including Wellfleet
Bay Wildlife Sanctuary located in Wellfleet, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in
Chatham, and Ashmut Holly in Falmouth. On the Islands, the Linda Loring Nature Center
on Nantucket and Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on Martha’s Vineyard are outstanding
Birding is a hobby that appeals to all ages, requires very little cost or equipment,
and can be done from just about anywhere - from the depths of Nickerson State Park
or from the back deck of your Cape or Islands vacation rental. Basic supplies for
the beginning birder include a field guide, binoculars, and, if you are heading
into the woods, marshes, and ponds, using tick and mosquito repellent and a good
pair of walking or hiking shoes (waterproof) is usually a good idea.
Interested in some guidance in the search for birds? Be sure to check out some of
these “bird-centric” events.