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Birds of Nantucket series

An introduction to the birds of Nantucket.

The description explains and outlines the features and characteristics of each species to help with identification. The ecology section described the feeding and nesting of each species. The Nantucket section explains where on Nantucket that each bird species might be found and gives local habitats that they prefer or good places to look for a particular species. A helpful photograph of each bird is also shown along with the scientific name of each bird, and if the bird is protected by either Massachusetts state or the Federal Government or both. https://www.mass.gov/service-details/list-of-vertebrates

There are over 120 birds listed here from regularly occurring birds to rarely sighted birds, however, this is not an exhaustive list. More species will be added from time to time. Suggestions are welcome. Please email Town of Nantucket Protected Species Technician & Assistant Shellfish Warden Vincent Murphy at vmurphy@nantucket-ma.gov to suggest more species to describe.

Waterfowl

Brant - Branta bernicla

Description: A group of three sub-species. The Eastern U. S. population is the Pale-bellied Brant sub-species Branta bernicla hrota. The species has a stubby bill with a black head and neck with a white collar. The body is shades of gray and brown and the underparts are paler in color and a white tail.

Ecology: Favored habitats are coastal areas, estuaries and bays. Diet is mostly vegetation and eel grass is a favorite with other marine vegetation including wigeon grass, rock grass and green algae. Will also eat terrestrial grasses. Breeds in arctic tundra only. Nests within a few miles of coast. Nest is a shallow bowl of grasses lines with down. 3-5 eggs incubated for 24 days. Leave nest 1-2 days after hatching and fledge at 40-50 days.

Nantucket:  Breeds in the Arctic tundra. Winters on the east coast, including Nantucket. From October to March they are a regular site in Nantucket Harbor and Madaket Harbor.

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis

Description: A group of up to seven sub-species. There are variations in size a plumage among the sub-species. In the Northeast U.S. the main characteristic to look for is the black head and neck with a white chinstrap. Usually has a brown back and tan breast with a black tail and black legs. Most widely distributed goose in North America.

Ecology: Mainly herbivorous and mostly eats grasses, sedges, seeds. Also likes cultivated grains. Also likes berries, seeds and aquatic plants. Usual nest site in on slightly elevated ground near water. Female constructs a nest of twigs, grasses and leaves with a shallow depression lines with down and moss. 4-7 eggs are incubated by the female for 25-28 days. Parents lead young from the nest 1-2 days after hatching. They can feed themselves. Flight is usually around 35-45 days after hatching.

Nantucket: Native winter resident, but considered as a pest by some as it has a preference for large grassy areas like parks and playing fields. Defecates everywhere and can be aggressive. Breeds on island, but populations boost during migrations. Flies in a V formations and known by some as ”Big Honkers”.

Mute Swan - Cygnus olor

Description:  A large and familiar white water bird with a wing span of up to 7 feet. Adults have an orange bill with a large knob at the top of the bill. Cygnets are gray. Mute refers to the fact that they are not particularly vocal. One of the heaviest flying birds.

Ecology: Feeds by dipping its head to the bottom and upending its body. Feeds mostly on aquatic variation such as pond weeds, leaves, roots, stems, seeds and algae. May also take aquatic insects, snails and worms. Nests on shoreline or small islands and nest is mostly built by female. It is a mound of plant material about 5 feet across. 5-7 eggs are incubated for 36 days, mostly by female. Chicks fledge around 4-5 months and stay with parents for the first winter.

Nantucket: Introduced to North America in the late 1800’s. Considered as at least naturalized and as an invasive species by some organizations. Most often seen around Long Pond, but also can turn up on other Great ponds. Year round resident on Nantucket.

Gadwall - Mareca Strepera

Description: The male is patterned grey, with a black rear end, light chestnut brown wings, and a bright white speculum (inner flight feathers), seen in flight or at rest. They also show orange and the bill and orange legs and feet. Females are overall light brown, but still have the orange around the bill.

Ecology: Mostly eats aquatic vegetation, particularly plant leaves and stems. Seeds, insects mollusks and crustaceans are only a small part of the diet. Nests near water in dense vegetation or in thick grass. The female builds a nest of grass and leaves lines with down. Sometimes two females lay eggs in the same nest. One female can lay 8-11 eggs and incubates them for 24-27 days. Female leads chicks to water and they are able to fly at around 55 days.

Nantucket: A winter visitor to Nantucket. A less common visitor but recorded most winters. Most large ponds are suitable, though Long Pond and Miacomet Pond are particular favorites.

American Wideon - Mareca Americana

Description: Key feature to look for among other ducks is a rounded head, short neck and small bill. The beak is pale blue. The male has a white top on the head and a green mask from the eyes down the back of the neck. The body is brown to gray brown. Females are overall gray brown. Both have white underparts and gray legs and feet.

Ecology: A dabbling duck that is mainly herbivorous. Main diet is aquatic plant including pondweeds, sedges, eel grass and algae. Terrestrial grasses, seeds and grains are also taken. Breeds in Canada, Alaska and northern Rockies. Nests within sight of water, on dry land in tall vegetation. A shallow depression constructed of grass, lined with down. 8-11 eggs incubated by the female only hatch after about 23 days. Flight at 45-60 days.

Nantucket: Massachusetts is the northern edge of their winter range. Most seen on Nantucket are passage migrants. Some spend fall and early winter on Nantucket.

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos

Description: A medium sized dabbling duck. Males have a yellow bill with a green head, and white collar. The breast is brown and can arrear iridescent purple. The back and wings are gray to brown and the underparts are pale gray. Females generally appear mottled brown. Both have orange legs.

Ecology: Omnivorous and can use any resource available. Mostly takes seeds, roots, stems of plants but will also take pond weeds, acorns, waste grains, aquatic insects, worms, crustaceans, mollusks etc. Nest site can be distant from water, usually in concealed vegetation. Nest is a bowl of vegetation lined with down. 7-10 eggs are incubated by the female for 26-30 days. A day after hatching the chicks are led by the female to water. Flight is 52-60 days after hatching.

Nantucket: Year-round resident on Nantucket. Can be found in almost any pond. Less likely to use harbors, and rarely open calm sea, close to the coast.

American Black Duck - Anas rubripes

Description: The largest dabbling duck. Looks similar to a female Mallard, but with darker plumage. Both sexes similar in appearance. The body is dark brown to black and the head is a lighter in color and the cheeks and neck are lighter brown, with some darker streaks. There is also a dark line running through the eye. Legs and feet are orange. Males have a yellow bill and females have a dull green bill.

Ecology: Omnivorous, but varies by location. In freshwater they mostly eat plant matter such as leaves, roots shoots, seeds and berries. In coastal areas the main diet is snails, clamps, crustaceans, and mussels. Nest is usual on ground in dense vegetation, sometimes in a tree hole or on elevated site. Nest constructed from grasses and other plants, lined with down. 7-11 are incubated by the female only for 26-29 days. Lead to water by the female after hatching. Fledge around 60 days.

Nantucket: Can be found in most wetlands, but has a preference for freshwater ponds, coastal marshes, estuaries and brackish water. Monomoy Creek and Fulling Mill Creek are good places to looks.

Ring-necked Duck - Aythya collaris

Description: This species is named for a red or cinnamon colored ring at the base of the neck that is difficult to observe as it usually carries is head and neck very low. Sometimes called the ring-billed duck for the two white rings on its gray beak. Males have angular black head and black back. The underparts are white and there are white lines on the wings. The eye is yellow. The adult female has a grayish brown angular head and body with a dark brown back. Females have brown eyes, surrounded by a white ring.

Ecology: Mainly takes aquatic plants including pondweeds, sedges, algae and grasses. May also take aquatic insects and mollusks. Nest is usually on a hummock on dry ground. Rarely on a mat of floating vegetation. Nest is shallow bowl of grasses, sedges, weeds, lined with down. 8-10 eggs incubated by the female only for 25-29 days. Female leads chicks to water within a day of hatching. Usually remains in marsh and vegetation, avoiding open water. Fledge at 50-55 days.

Nantucket: A winter visitor to Nantucket. Most often seen around the Great ponds, particularly Long pond. will also use salt marsh areas and smaller ponds.

Greater Scaup - Aythya marila

Description: Look for a blue beak and yellow eyes. The male has a dark head with a green sheen, a black breast, a light back, a black tail, and white underparts. Males lower flanks are vermiculated gray or checkerboarded gray. Male has a more rounded head than female. Females have a brown body and head, with white wing markings similar to those of the male but slightly duller. Both male and female have gray legs and feet.

Ecology: Diet varies by season. Winter diet is mostly mollusks. Mussels, clams, oysters and snails are preferred. In the summer breeding grounds in the far north to the arctic, the diet is mostly vegetation including pondweeds, sedges, grass and some insects. Nests very close to water or shorelines. May sometimes nest in small colonies. Nest is a shallow depression in collected vegetation lined with down. 7-9 eggs incubated by the female only for 24-28 days. Females lead chicks to water within a day of hatching. Two or more broods bay join together, tended by females. Fledge at 40-45 days.

Nantucket: A winter visitor to Nantucket. Ca be seen in larger bodies of water such as great ponds and in harbors. Greater Scaup are a whole arctic species, found around the whole northern hemisphere from the arctic and tundra in summer to the temperate areas in winter.

Lesser Scaup - Aythya affinis

Description: Closely related to Greater Scaup with a very similar appearance. Debate as to whether it is an independent species or sup-species of Greater Scaup. Lots of minor differences. Lesser Scup are about 10% smaller. Males have a purple sheen to the head. Males also have a little tuft on the back of the head that is absent in the Greater Scaup. Females have amber colored eyes, whereas Greater Scaup females have yellow eyes.

Ecology: Diet and nesting very similar to Greater Scuap. May eat more vegetation, pondweeds and sea lettuce in the winter, but still reliant on mollusks. 9-11 eggs incubated by the female only for 21-27 days. Let to water by female shortly after. 2 or more broods may join together and are looked after by several or all the females. Capable of flight around 47-54 days.

Nantucket: Appears to use less open habitat than the Greater Scaup and tends to use more sheltered areas. Lesser Scuap is far more likely to be founds at inland and freshwater sites in winter. They will also use sheltered bay, but rarely see at sea. Lesser Scaup are endemic to the North America only.

Surf Scoter - Melanitta perspicillata

Description: The male is black with a white patch on the head and the nape of the neck. The bill is larger, bulkier and more well patterned then other scoters with orange, red, yellow and white. The eye is pale blue, almost white. The female appears a more brown to dark brown color and a black bill with greed and blue colors.

Ecology: Diet is mostly mollusks. Also takes crustaceans, aquatic insects, marine worms and small fish. May also eat pondweeds and sedges. Nest is built by the female, usually some distance from water. Nest site is under dense trees or in very dense grass. A shallow depression lined with down. 5-9 eggs incubated by the female only. Incubation time and time to fledging are not well known.

Nantucket: Spends the winter in open oceans and in bays. Will also use harbors and marina areas. Also regularly seen on the ferry crossing. Can be seen from most any coastal vantage point from November to March.

White-winged Scoter - Melanitta deglandi

Description: The larger of the two scoter species. Males are black with white around the eyes and inner flight feathers. The beak is heavy and long with an orange yellow front. Male has pale blue eye. The female is more brown to dark brown.

Ecology: Diet is mostly mollusks. Also takes crustaceans, aquatic insects and small fish. May also take sea lettuce and pond weeds. Nests from northern Canada to Alaska. Nest on the ground close to water in dense brush. Also nests on small islands. 9-10 eggs incubated by the female only for 25-30 days. Chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching and tended by the female. Fledge between 50 and 80 days.

Nantucket: Winters in oceans and other marine environment. One of the more common sea duck seen in Nantucket Sound on the ferry crossing in winter. Can also be seen from any beach or bluff from November to March.

Long-tailed Duck - Clangula hyemalis

Description: Variable appearance as it goes through a complex molting process. Breeding males have conspicuous long pointed tail feathers. The beak is dark gray with a pink bank. In winter, the male has a dark cheek patch with a white head and neck, a dark breast and mostly white body. In summer, the male is dark on the head, neck and back with a white cheek patch. The female has a brown back and a relatively short pointed tail. In winter, the female's head and neck are white with a dark crown.

Ecology: At sea, the diet is mainly mussels, clams, periwinkles, crustaceans, and small fish. Will also take pondweeds and grasses. Breeds in the very far north in the arctic. Nest is on dry ground with cover; rock of vegetation. Nest constructed of available plants and grasses and lined with a lot of down. 6-8 eggs incubated by the female only for 24-29 days. Leave nest soon after hatching and fledge at 35-40 days.

Nantucket: A winter visitor to the coasts of Nantucket. Favors oceans, and very large bodies of water. Only occasionally in lakes and ponds. Sconset Bluff and Low beach are good areas to see Long-tailed ducks. Also, regularly seen in Nantucket Sound.

Bufflehead

Description: The unusual puffy shape of the male’s head, lead to them being called buffalo-head which over time became Bufflehead. They are a small duck and males are mostly black and white with green and purple heads and distinctive grey beak. Females are black and grey with white patches behind the eye.

Ecology: Bufflehead mostly breed in central and northwest Canada. Females choose nest holes in trees, usually former Flicker nests cavities, around 10 feet above ground. Nests are lined with down only. 8-10 eggs are incubated by the female only and hatch at around 29-31 days. The brood leave the nest after 1-2 days. Chicks are tended by the female only, but can feed themselves. Flight is around 50 to 55 days. Summer diet is mainly freshwater insects. Winter diet is manly mollusks, but mostly snails. When on the ocean, the diet is mostly crustaceans.

Nantucket: A common winter visitor to Nantucket. Mostly seen in ponds, they can also be seen in the harbor and in Nantucket sound.

Common Goldeneye - Bucephala clangula

Description: The species is named for the characteristic golden yellow eye. The head is iridescent dark green with a white patch under the eye. The beak is black. The back is dark colored brown to black and the neck and underparts are white. Females have a brown head and a mostly gray body. The legs and feet of both are orange.

Ecology: Omnivorous. Mostly eats crustaceans, crabs, mollusks, amphipods and other aquatic insects. Will also take pond weeds and other vegetation. The preferred nesting location is a tree cavity, though will also use nest boxes. Nest is made from wood chips in the nest cavity, lined with down. Where nests are scares, females may lay eggs in each other’s nests. 8-11 eggs are incubated by the female only for 30 days. Chicks jump from the nest 1-2 days after hatching and are led by the female to water. Flight is achieved around 60 days.

Nantucket: Breeds to the north in Taiga habitats and winters in coastal areas and inlands waterways in temperate regions. Nantucket is an ideal wintering grounds. Can use also most any aquatic habitat on Nantucket from ponds to ocean.

Red-breasted Merganser - Mergus serrator

Description: It has a long thin bill that is serrated. The feathers on the back of the head look like spines. The males have a dark head with a green tinge. The neck has a white ring and a rusty brown breast. The back is black and the underparts are white. Females have a rusty brown head and gray body.

Ecology: Diet is mostly fish. Nests in dense vegetation near water. Nest is a simple shallow depression lined with down. Females sometimes lay eggs in each other’s nests or in other duck’s nests. 7-10 eggs are incubated by the female only for 29-35 days. Female leads chicks to water the day after hatching. Chicks mostly eat aquatic invertebrates. Chicks fledge around 60 days.

Nantucket: A winter visitor on to Nantucket and can be found in harbors and bays, particularly Madaket Harbor. Also, can be see regularly off the south shore.

Cormorants

Double-crested Cormorant - Phalacrocorax auritus

Description: An all black bird with bare orange colored facial skin. Eyes are green, if you get close enough to see. Develops a small double crest of black and white feathers in the breeding season.

Ecology: The nest is a platform of sticks and other material. Usually on a cliff island or isolated beach. 3-4 blueish white eggs, incubated for 28-30 days. Chicks usually leave the nest at 3-4 weeks and waddle around the colony area. First flight at 5-6 weeks and independent at 9-10 weeks. Feeds in fresh water, brackish water and marine environments. Forages for fish and other aquatic life including crabs, crayfish, shrimp, eels salamanders, frogs etc.

Nantucket: Cormorants were extirpated in the 1940’s to the 1960’s. The species was recorded in the area again in the 1970’s, but it was some time before they began to breed on Nantucket again. Cormorants began nesting on the east Jetty reflector in the early 2000’s. Over the next few years they attempted to set up colonies in other location including Muskeget, before setting up an annual breeding location on Coatue in 2013. They can now be spotted in almost all coastal and harbor waters.

Loons & Grebes

Red-throated Loon - Gavia stellate

Description: The smallest of the loons. Sexes are similar in appearance. Breeding plumage is dark grey head and neck with narrow black and white stripes on the back of the neck, a triangular red throat patch and white underparts. The non-breeding plumage is plainer with the neck and much of the face white, the top of the head and back of the neck grey, and considerable white speckling on the dark back.

Ecology: Diet is mostly fish. Prefers cod and herring in the winter at sea. May also take crab, shrimp and mussels. Nest is close to shore on in floating vegetation. Nest is constructed by both and is a heap of vegetation that is added to as required. 2 eggs incubated by both adults for 24-29 days. Leave nest within a day of hatching. Fledge at around 50 days.

Nantucket: Breeds in the arctic and winters in the coastal waters from Maine to Florida. Can be spotted from most Nantucket beaches and Sconset Bluff is a good place to see large numbers.

Common Loon - Gavia immer

MA state: Special Concern

Description: A sea bird that dives for fish and floats low on the water. It has a thick black bill and red eyes. The head is black with black and white collars on the neck. The wings and back are black with white spots that makes it appear checkered. They have grey webbed feet. They have a loud wailing and mournful call.

Ecology: Usually feeds on small fish up to about 10 inches long, including fresh water, estuarine and marine fish. Will also take crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects and even frogs. Sometimes known to eat pondweed and algae. Nest is a mound of grass, reeds and twigs very near water. Two olive colored eggs with black are brown spots hatch after 24-31 days. The chicks leave the nest within 1-2 days and are able to swim. It takes 2-3 days to learn to dive. Fed by adults and will also ride on adults backs. Able to fly at 10-11 weeks.

Nantucket: Can be seen in any coastal waters, harbor or pond on the island from October to April. Depending on available fish, large numbers can be seen from Sconset Bluff. On the ferry crossing Nantucket Sound is another good place to see Common Loons. The species returned to breed in central Massachusetts in 1975 after a 100 year absence.

Pied-billed Grebe - Podilymbus podiceps

MA state: Endangered

Description: A small stocky bird with a short neck and a chicken-like beak. The beak is mainly gray and has a thick black band during the breeding season. They are mostly gray-brown with a darker head and back. They also have a white underside to the tail. The feet are not webbed, rather have long lobed toes for swimming and walking on floating vegetation.

Ecology: Diet is mainly aquatic insects, crustaceans, small fish, leeches with small amounts of mollusks, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, spiders. May also take a small amount of aquatic plants. Nest built by both adults. It is a dense mass of plant material, usually floating or sometimes built up from bottom, anchored to standing vegetation. 4-7 eggs are incubated by both adults for about 23 days. Chicks can swim soon after hatching. Will also ride on parents back.

Nantucket: Preferred habitat is ponds with emergent and floating vegetation. Rarely uses slow rivers and coastal habitats. Has been recorded in all of the Great Ponds on Nantucket and many of the smaller ponds. Nantucket and Madaket harbors also have some records. Monomoy Creek and the Madaket Ditches also are good places to find this species. Migrates to southern states for winter. Endangered due to historic hunting and habitat loss. Feathers were historically used in hats and ear muffs.

Alcids

Common Murre - Uria aalge

Description: In breeding plumage is has black on the head, back and wings. The underparts are white. It has a thin dark pointed bill and a small rounded black tail. The wintering birds around Nantucket has white on the face with a black line from the eye.

Ecology: Diet is mainly fish with herring, cod and sandlance being preferred. Will also take squid, crustaceans and marine worms. Nests from Newfoundland northwards. Nests in colonies on cliffs and other bare sites. No nest, eggs laid on bare rock. One egg incubated by both parents for 28 to 37 days. Leave nest and a capable of swimming at 15-25 days. Capable of fright around 60 days.

Nantucket: Cape Cod and Nantucket are at the southern end of the typical winter range. Climate change affects this species in two ways. Stronger winter storms may force populations further south. Warmer ocean waters may drive this species further north as they seek colder waters. This means more movement and stress. Most sightings from Nantucket in mid-winter from cliffs and high vantage points.

Razorbill - Alca torda

Description: Razorbills are black on the black head, neck, back and feet during breeding season. The underparts are white. A thin white line also extends from the eyes to the end of the bill. Outside of the breeding season the throat and face behind the eye become white, and the white line on the face fades.

Ecology: Diet is mostly fish with sandlance, herring and sprat favored. Will also take crustaceans and marine worms. Nest in colonies. Nests in crevices, under boulders and on cliff ledges. Nest is a space collection of pebbles and grass, or no nest. 1 egg is incubated by both adults for 32-39 days. Fed by both parents and fledges around 20 days.

Nantucket: Seen around Nantucket in winter only. Best place to look is Sconset Bluff. Usually far out to sea. May also wash ashore dead after storms.

Gannets

Northern Gannet - Morus bassanus

Description: A large, wandering, oceangoing bird. A large white bird with dark brown to black wing tips. The head and neck are yellow, more so in the breeding season. The long, heavyset beak is pale gray with black edges. The eyes are pale blue surrounded by black skin. Sexes are very similar.

Ecology: Feed on fish by diving head first with wings folded back into schools of fish. Herring, Cod, Pollock and Menhaden are favorites. Also forages by swimming under water. Nests from Newfoundland as far south as Maine. Nests on rocky ledges and outcrops, sometimes on flat ground in large colonies. Nest, built mostly by males contains seaweed, grass, mud and other debris held together with guano. 1 egg incubated by both adults for 42-46 days. Both adults regurgitate food for chick. About 90 days before it can fly.

Nantucket: This wanderer is mostly seen around Nantucket in the winter months, and usually far out to sea. Find a vantage point like the Sconset Bluff. Sometimes present in large numbers if chasing large shoals of fish.

Gulls, Terns & Skimmers

Laughing Gull - Leucophaeus atricilla

Description: Breeding adults have a black head with prominent white upper and lower eyelids. Non-breeders have variable amounts of smudgy coloring on the head. Adults have white underparts with a white tail and rump. The wings and back are dark grey, with black wingtips. The bill is red when breeding, blackish with sometimes a faintly reddish tip when non-breeding. Their legs are reddish when breeding or blackish in non-breeding birds.

Ecology: Diet is mainly crustaceans, fish and insects. Will also gather at dumps to scavenge on refuse. Horseshoe crab eggs also attract large numbers of Laughing Gulls. Nests in colonies. Sometimes in nest colony is associated with other gulls or terns. Nests on the ground in grass or scrub. Nest is a shallow scrape lines with twigs, grass, seaweed or other debris. 3 eggs incubated by both adults for about 20 days. After hatching, chicks wander from the nest and hide in surrounding vegetation. Fed by both adults. Fledge at around 35 days.

Nantucket: There are two sub species. Leucophaeus atricilla megalopterus is present in North America, which the other sub-species is only present in central and south America. Breeds in two colonies in Massachusetts at Monomoy on Cape Cod and on Plymouth Beach. There was a colony on Muskeget up until 1972, when it was washed out, and the colony moved to Monomoy. Potential breeding sites on Nantucket. Usually seen on Nantucket feeding or loafing in coastal or harbor waters during the summer.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus

Description: Similar appearance to Great Black-backed Gull. Key difference are (1) its smaller, (2) the back is slate gray or lighter in color and (3) the legs are yellow. It is smaller than a herring gull too. In winter, the head turn gray.

Ecology: Omnivorous. Scavenges in towns, arounds docks and at dumps. Main diet is fish, crustaceans, insects, mollusks, marine worms, small birds, chicks, eggs, rodents and will also take seaweed, seeds and berries. Breeds in Northern Europe from Ireland to the Russian arctic. Nests on the ground in colonies. Nest is a mound of grass, seaweed and debris. 3 eggs incubated by both adults hatch after 24-27 days and fledge around 35 days.

Nantucket: Does not breed in North America. A visitor to the North America from Europe with the largest numbers in winter. Is spreading is winter and breeding range. In 1920’s was first recorded breeding in Iceland. Later spread to breed in Greenland in large numbers. Once a rare winter vagrant in North America, it is now present year-round from Newfoundland to Florida and to the Great Lakes.

Glaucous Gull - Larus hyperboreus

Description: Considered the second largest gull. Adults are pale grey above, with a thick yellow bill. Breeding adults are mostly white with gray wings and back. No back. The legs are pink. Outside of breeding, adults have gray on the head and neck. Takes 4 years to reach maturity and the immature gulls go through much color change. Immatures are very pale grey with a pink and black bill.

Ecology: Omnivorous and opportunistic. Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, marine worms, sea urchins and insects. Will also take birds, eggs, berries, seaweed, carrion. Often scavenges refuse around towns, fishing boats. Nests in colonies in the arctic. Nests on rocky outcrops and cliffs. Both adults built the nest. Nest is a mound of grass, seaweed and other debris. 3 eggs incubated by both adults for 28 days. Fed by both parents. Flight at around 45 days.

Nantucket: Long Island, NY is the southern limit of the winter range. Massachusetts and Nantucket get gets a modest influx of these annual winter visitors. Most records are from Sconset and eastern part of Nantucket, with some records from ponds and Nantucket Harbor.

Great(er) Black-backed Gull - Larus marinus

Description: World’s largest gull. It has a black to gray-black back. The head, neck and underparts are white. It has a heavy yellow beak, with a red spot on the lower mandible. The legs and feet are pink. Young and juvenile gulls go through three different color form molts before maturity.

Ecology: Omnivorous and opportunistic. Carrion, French fries, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, marine worms, insects, rodents, berries, eggs, chicks and adult birds it can swallow. Nests in colonies, sometimes mixed with Herring Gulls. Nest is on the ground and built by both adults. It is a mound of vegetation and debris, mostly grasses and seaweed, and has a large depression. 2-3 eggs incubated by both adults for about 28 days. Fed by both parents and capable of flight at 50-55 days.

Nantucket: A large, heavy gull not usually present in town. Present throughout the year and on most beaches and open waters. Nest colony locations on Nantucket include Coatue and Smith’s Point. More common than Lesser Black-backed Gull on Nantucket.

Least Tern - Sternula antillarum

MA state: Special Concern

Description: America’s smallest tern, the Least tern is gray and white with a black cap and yellow legs and beak.

Ecology: They typically nest on sandy beaches and wash over areas. They nest from early May to July, sometimes in large colonies. Their nests are a shallow scrape in open sand or in thin beach grasses and can have 1-3 eggs. Eggs are incubated for 21 to 23 days and chicks fledge between 20 to 22 days. Adult terns plunge head first into shoals of small fish such as sand lance and herring, though will also take crustaceans and insects.

Nantucket: Some of the favorite nesting areas are on Great Point, Coatue, Smith Point, Eel Point and Low Beach. They are also a regular summer sight around the Jetties and Nantucket Harbor, and throughout the south shore.

Roseate Tern - Sterna dougallii

Federal & MA state: Endangered

Description: A thin black beak with a red base. It has a black cap that includes the eyes in summer. Shorter winged than other terns. Upper wings are pale gray and underparts are all white. Long flexible tail streamers. Tail streams extend beyond the wings when wings folded. Red to orange legs. It has a pinkish hue to the breast that gives the species its name.

Ecology: Diet is mostly fish. Sand lance and small herring are staples. Nests in colonies, sometimes with Common Terns. Nest is a shallow scrape on bare sand. Sometimes nests under cover of grass or other vegetation. Rarely nests in abandoned burrows. 1-2 eggs incubated by both parents for 21-26 days. Fed by both parents. Fledge at 27-30 days. Stay with parents for another 2 months after fledging.

Nantucket: A regular summer visitor to Nantucket, but is not known to breed here. Feeds in all marine waters around Nantucket in the summer.

Common Tern - Sterna hirundo

MA state: Special Concern

Description: Beak can be mostly black with a red base or mostly red with a black tip. Black cap that includes the eyes. The upper parts are dray and the underparts are white to pale gray. Rump and tail are white. Tail streamers are the same length as the wings when wings folded. Legs dark red to black. Sexes are very similar.

Ecology: Mostly fish. Will take whatever small fish are available. Also know to take crustaceans, particularly shrimp. Also, insects, small squid and marine worms. Nest is a scrape on open sand or among low vegetation. Sometimes lined with plant material. 1-3 eggs incubated by both parents for 21-25 days. Fledge at 22-28 days and remain with parents for another 2 months.

Nantucket: A regular summer visitor to Nantucket, but not a current nesting species on the island, despite suitable habitat. Feeds around the islands marine waters throughout the summer. sometimes aggregates in large numbers around Smith’s Point, Eel Point and Great Point as these are used as staging areas prior to migration south in the later summer and early fall.

Black Skimmer - Rynchops niger

Description: The beak is a key feature, with the lower mandible being much longer than the upper mandible. The base of the beak is red and black towards the tip. Breeding plumage is a black crown, nape, wings and upper body. The forehead and underparts are white. It has unique eyes among birds having vertical pupil like a cat. The legs are red.

Ecology: Diet is mostly fish that swim close to the surface. Dips its lower mandible into the water to find and catch fish as it flies. Nest is a shallow scrape in the sand on the upper part of beach. 4-5 eggs are incubated by both adults for 21-23 days. Parents regurgitate food for chicks. Fledge around 24 days.

Nantucket: Black Skimmers are summer visitors the ocean waters around Nantucket. They currently do not breed here. The closest breeding populations are on Martha’s Vineyard. Mostly seen feeding around Muskegest and Tuckernuck, and the south shore from Smith’s Point eastwards. Also uses Nantucket Sound and other protected and sheltered waters.

Shorebirds

American Oystercatcher - Haematopus palliatus

Description: A distinctive and recognizable shorebird with black and white plumage and an impressive orange beak used to open mollusks.

Ecology: Oystercatchers mature at 3-4 years old. The nest is a shallow depression in sand and among dunes. 1-4 eggs are incubated for around 24-28 days. The down covered chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching and can fly at about 35 days old. Parents feed chicks for 2 months. The bulk of the diet is mollusks such as oysters and mussels as well as clam, limpets, starfish, sea urchins, craps and worms.

Nantucket: When Oystercatchers first arrive in April, they can be found on just about any beach or estuarine part of the island. Soon the pairs bond and make territories in familiar areas such as Polpis Harbor, Smith’s Point, Eel Point Coskata and Coatue for example.

Black-bellies Plover - Pluvialis squatarola

Description: Black-bellied Plovers are also known as Gray Plovers. The face and neck are black with a white border. The face, breast and belly are black. They have spotted black and white on the back and wings. The rump is white. The tail is white with black barring. The bill and legs are black.

Ecology: Diet is mainly mollusks, crustaceans, insects and marine worms. Nests in the northern tundra and Arctic. Nests on dry ground or on a hummock. Male makes a rough scrape and female lines it grasses. 4 eggs are incubated by both parents for approximately 26 days. Chicks are precocial, leaving the nest soon after hatching and can feed themselves. Adults use a broken wing display to lure predators away from nest and chicks. Chicks capable of flight around 40 days.

Nantucket: Breeds in the Arctic and Tundra. Outside of the breeding season, can be found in coastal and tideland habitats from New England to Argentina on the Western Atlantic. In winter they also range south to Chile, South Africa, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Can be seen on Nantucket from August to April, with peaks in those respective months as they pass through. Madaket Harbor and Head of the Harbor are good places to look.

Pipping Plover - Charadrius melodus

Federal & MA state: Threatened

Description: Piping plover is a small sandy colored shore bird with orange/yellow legs and a bill with black rings. Piping plovers are just a little bigger than a sparrow and a hard to spot on the beach as they blend into their environment very well. They are named for the piping calls that are the signal for spring on our shoreline.

Ecology: It nests above the tide line on sandy beaches. Nests are a simple scrape in the sand, usually in open sand or in sparse grass to moderately dense beach grasses and dune vegetation. Nesting starts from mid-March to early May, usually with about four eggs that hatch in 27-28 days. Chicks are able to walk around and forage within hours of hatching and able to fly at about 25-35 days. Piping plovers feed on small crustaceans, marine worms, flies and other bugs from the shore line.

Nantucket: Piping plover are the main reason that the beaches are fenced. They like to nest above the high tide line and below the dune line, which is the same area that we like use the beach. The main flock arrived in early April and can be found on the large ocean facing beaches with neighboring sand dunes and calmer wetlands behind them. Places likes Jetties Beach, Smiths Point and Coatue are good places to look for Piping Plovers.

Killdeer - Charadrius vociferous

Description: It has a short, black beak and a red eye ring. It has a black cap and white brow to the beak. It has a white chin color and a black neck color, both go around to the back of the neck. Below that is a white and black breast stripes. The upper parts are brown to rufous and the underparts are white. The female face mask is more brown than black.

Ecology: Grassland insects such as beetles, caterpillars, and spiders with coastal invertebrates also taken. Feeding behaviors is to run a few steps, pause and peck at food item, and repeat. Nests on the ground in open grassy areas on bare soil or gravel. Nest is a shallow scrape lined with grass, pebbles or other fine debris. 4 eggs incubated by both adults for 24-28 days. Chicks leave nest after hatching and can feed themselves. Tended by both parents. Fledge at around 25 days.

Nantucket: Preferred habitat are open grassy areas, fields, airports, mudflats and coastal areas. Usually fairly conspicuous. Best known for its song, when it calls its own name. Open grass areas such as Smooth Hummocks and Head of the Planes are preferred. Sometimes on golf courses on island.

Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus

Description: A medium to large wading bird. It had a long beak with a downward curve at the tip. Longer beak in females than males. It is generally a brown to gray brown color. Lighter color on the underside. Dark brown crown.

Ecology: Preferred habitat is seashores, mudflats and marshes where is uses it long beak to pick up crustaceans in water or probe the surface of sediments for insects, mollusks or crustaceans. Does not probe deeply. Nest is a shallow depression in lined with moss on slightly razed ground in the tundra. 4 eggs incubated by both parents for 24-28 days. Leave the nest son after hatching and can feed themselves. Flight at around 40 days.

Nantucket: A group of around seven subspecies. The subspecies Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus breeds around northeast Canada, and winters from Newfoundland to the Caribbean. Mostly seen on Nantucket as a passage migrant, though the occasional bird hangs around from time to time.

Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres

Description: A small stocky wader in the sandpiper family. Breeding birds have reddish-brown upper parts and black markings. The head is mainly white with black streaks on the crown and a black pattern on the face. The breast is mainly black apart from a white patch on the sides. The rest of the underparts are white. Weather in breeding colors or winter, it has a general chequered appearance.

Ecology: Omnivorous and possibly opportunistic. Will eat most anything on the shoreline. Insects, mollusks and crustaceans are staples. Depending on season and location, will also take barnacles, worms, seeds, berries, spiders and small fish. May also scavenge at dumps or on carrion. Usual nest site is among vegetation and is a shallow scrape lined with leaves. 4 eggs are incubated by both parents for 22-24 days. Both parents tend to the young. Female may leave. Flight at around 20 days.

Nantucket: Breeds on the Artic and Tundra coasts. Outside of the breeding season in can be found on the coastlines of every continent, except Antarctica. It can range as far south as south America, South Africa and New Zealand. Mostly spotted around Nantucket on its north or south trips.

Sanderling - Calidris alba

Description: Sanderlings are most frequently seen in non-breeding plumage with pale grey head and back. The breeding plumage is a rufous color and the head and best ca be brick red. The belly and underparts of adult birds is always white. The beak and legs are always black.

Ecology: Nests only in the high Arctic tundra. Nest is a shallow scrape lines with leaves. 3-4 eggs hatch at 24-31 days and fledge at about 17 days old. Diet is mainly sand crabs and other invertebrates in the tideline which can also include amphipods, isopods, marine worms and small mollusks. The feeding behavior of running up and down the beach between waves is often described as looking like a clockwork toy.

Nantucket: Small fast footed shore bird, seen running up and down beaches in wave intervals to feed in wet sand. Most often seen on high wave intensity shores, mostly on south facing part of the island, less so on north shore. Sanderlings breed in the high Arctic tundra and winter as far south as Peru and Argentina. Non breeding birds can be seen on Nantucket through the summer. Spring and fall migrations see large increases of Sanderlings. Only absent from Nantucket in the depths of winter.

Short-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus griseus

Description: Breeding birds are dark brown on top and reddish underneath. The winter plumage is mostly gray. The legs are yellow. The beak is long and a slight downward curve at the tip.

Ecology: Probes wet sand and mud with its beak for crustaceans, mollusks and marine worms. Also takes seeds and pondweeds. Nests in bogs, tree clearings and tundra habitat in Candada and Alaska. Sometimes near water, but also great distance from water. Nests by creating a depression is grass or moss lined with leaves and grasses. 4 eggs incubated by both adults for about 21 days. Chicks mostly tended to by the male.

Nantucket: A passage migrant that uses Nantucket as a resting place. Madaket is a particularly good place to find them in May and September. Most calm bays and coastal wetlands such as Folger Marsh and Monomoy Creek are also good places to look.

Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca

Description: It has long yellow legs and a long, thin, dark bill which has a slight upward curve. The beak appears longer than the head. The body is grey-brown on top and white underneath. The neck and breast have dark brown streaks. The rump is white.

Ecology: Forages in shallow water for insects, small fish, crustaceans and marine worms. Nest on the ground close to water, usually nests to a log or other windbreaker. Nest is a shallow depression in moss lined with some grass. 4 eggs are incubated by both parents for 23 days. Chicks leave the nest and can feed themselves soon after hatching. Flight at around 20 days.

Nantucket: Breeds in northern Canada and winters from Delaware through to South America. Passes through Nantucket on its way to these grounds. Sand and mud shores around Madaket and Nantucket harbors are favored.

Willet - Tringa semipalmata

Description: Willets have a shortish, heavy but straight beak. They have a distinct white patch between the eyes and beak that links to a narrow whitish eye ring. The plumage is grey above with a white rump, and white below. The underparts are white. The legs are grey. In breeding plumage the bird shows brown barring on the upperparts. Non breeding birds are plainer.

Ecology: Wades through shallow water and mudflats looking for insects, crustaceans, marine worms. Crabs, particularly Fiddler crabs are a favorite. Nests on the ground in dense grassy areas within sight of water. Nest is shallow depression with grass bent down to form foundation, lined with finer grasses. 4 eggs incubated by both parents for 22-29 days. Chicks leave the nest within a day of hatching and are taken by parents to feed in marshy areas. Both parents tend young, though female leaves after about 2 weeks. Fledge at around 28 days.

Nantucket: Breeds on Nantucket, mostly around Smith Point, Eel Point, Great Point and Coatue. These remote locations make it difficult to find. When found, it can be a particularly noisy bird as it attempts to distract predators and people that approach its nest area.

Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes

Description: Key difference to the Greater Yellowlegs is the beak is shorter. Otherwise similar appearance. Beak appears to be about the same size as the head. The beak is slim, strait and uncurved. The breast is streaked, and the flanks are finely marked with short bars.

Ecology: Forages in very shallow water and takes pray from just below the surface. Mainly takes insects, small fish and crustaceans. Also takes beetles, dragonfly nymphs and terrestrial insects. Nest on the ground in open dry habitats, close to a feature such as a log or tree stump for wind protection. Nest is a shallow depression lined with grass. 4 eggs incubated by both parents for 22 days. Leave the nest to feed themselves soon after hatching. Able to fly around 20 days.

Nantucket: Breeds in northern Canada and winters from North Carolina through to South America. Passes through Nantucket on its way to these grounds. Sand and mud shores around Madaket and Nantucket harbors are favored.

Herons & Allies

American Bittern - Botaurus lentiginosus

MA state: Endangered

Description: Overall, this bird appears chestnut brown. The bill, legs and feet are yellow to green color. The eyes are surrounded by yellowish skin. The iris is pale yellow. The throat down to the belly is cream white with chestnut stripes. The back and upper parts are chestnut brown with black and gray speckles.

Ecology: Diet is mostly fish, eels, frogs, crayfish, crabs, salamander and snakes. Will also take aquatic insects. Nest is located in dense vegetation, in shallow water. Nest is built by the female and is a platform of cattails, reed and grasses lined with finer grasses. A male may mate with 1-3 females in his territory. 3-5 eggs are incubated by the female only for 24-28 days. Raised by female only. Feeds chicks partly digested items by regurgitating. Leave nest after 1-2 weeks and a fed by female up to 4 weeks old. Capable of flight around 50 days.

Nantucket: A solitary bird. More often heard than seen. It makes a low booming or gulping sound. It has suffered due to habitat loss and habitat degradation. Occasionally sighed or heard around dense vegetation around Nantucket. Favorite spots are around Hummock Pond, Long Pond and Miacomet Pond. Will also use brackish and saline water sites use as Folger’s Marsh and Monomoy Creek.

Great Blue Heron - Ardea Herodias

Description: Very long neck and legs. Large powerful beak is dull yellow. It has a white face, and a pair of black or dark gray lines and plumes from just above the eye to the back of the head. The neck is gray with black and white streaking down the front. The body is mostly gray. The feathers on the lower neck are long and plume-like and it has plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season.

Ecology: Diet is mostly fish, but will also take frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects and rodents. Birds up to the size of a rail are also taken. Forages in marshes and other slow waters by standing still or walking slowly, with a rapid strike with the beak on the pray. Breeds in colonies in the top of tall trees near water. Male gathers sticks and twigs, and the female constructs a platform. 3-5 eggs are incubated by both parents for 25-30 days. Parents regurgitate food for chicks. First flight is around 60 days after hatching.

Nantucket: The marshes around Hither Creek in Madaket, Monomoy Creek, Folgers Marsh and all of the medium and larger ponds with fish are good places to find Great Blue Heron.

Great Egret - Ardea alba

Description: A tall, slender white heron with a yellow beak and black legs and black feet. In the breeding season, they develop delicate ornamental feathers on their back. They typically stand around 3.3 feet tall.

Ecology: Great egrets are at the norther limit of their breeding range in Massachusetts. They do nest on Nantucket from time to time. Nests are a platform of sticks and are usually in tree tops and in colonies, though they may also be solitary nesters. 3-4 eggs hatch after 23-26 days and the chicks leave the nest at about 3 weeks but are not capable of flight until around 6-7 weeks old. Diet is mostly fish. They will also take frogs, snakes, crustaceans and aquatic insects. May occasionally hunt in fields for rodents.

Nantucket: Look in shallow still water areas. Island Creek in Pocomo, Polpis Harbor and Monomoy Creek are good estuarine places to find these birds. The edges of the great ponds are also regular haunts.

Black-crowned Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax

Description: Thick, heavy black beak. Has a black crown that extends down the back. Can also be blue. Wings are grey, and underparts are white. Other notable features are yellow legs and red eyes. Has 2-3 white plumes on the back of the head that are held aloft in display and courtship.

Ecology: Diet is mainly fish. Also, will take crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, snakes, clams, mussels, rodents, carrion, squid, small birds and eggs. Colonial breeder, usually with other herons. Nests in shrub tops or tree tops 10-40 feet above ground and is mainly a platform of sticks. 2-4 pale green eggs incubated by both adults for 21-26 days. Young leave the nest tree at 4 weeks for a new roost. Able to fly by 6-7 weeks and then follow parents to feeding sites.

Nantucket: There are a few spots on Nantucket to find them. Folger’s Marsh, Monomoy Creek, Polpis Harbor, Eat Fire Spring and Island Creek. They are also known to have breed around Madaket Harbor and Tuckernuck. The scientific name Nycticorax mean “Night Raven” as they make a raven-like call at night.

Rails & Gallinules

Virginia Rail - Rallus limicola

Description: The overall color is reddish brown, darker on the back and lighter underparts. The legs are orange with a reddish beak and gray patches on the side of the dead.

Ecology: The nest is usually a platform within reed beds among cattails reeds and other grasses. 5-13 eggs hatch after 18-20 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after and a fed by the adults until they can fly at about 25 days old. They probe in shallow water for prey. The diet is mostly insects though they also consume seeds. Most common prey are insects, crayfish, snails, beetles, flies’ slugs and occasionally small fish.

Nantucket: Hard to spot as they are secretive and live in reed beds. More often heard than seen, the call is a series of high pitched almost froglike calls. Listen around large reed beds. The upper parts of Hummock pond and the Lilly Pond park are good places, as well as other large marshes.

American Coot - Fulica Americana

Description: Overall black birds that can appear iridescent on closer inspection. Key feature is the white beak and face shield. Can have a red or brown spot neat top of shield. They eye is red. The feet are not webbed and mostly yellow to yellow-green. Chicks are brightly colored.

Ecology: Very varied omnivorous diet. plant matter such as stems, leaves, and seeds of pondweeds, sedges, grasses algae. Also eats insects, tadpoles, fish, worms, snails, crayfish, prawns, eggs of other birds. Nests in tall vegetation, usually reed bed. A floating platform of vegetation built by both adults. Incubated by both adults for 21-25 days. Chicks can take to water after hatching, fed by female. Fledge at 50-55 days. Female can parasitically lay eggs in other female’s nests. Females also known to preferentially feed more brightly colored chicks.

Nantucket: A migratory birds that summers and breeds on Nantucket. The reedbeds around Miacomet Pond, Long pond and Hummock pond are a favorite. Likes open wet ground and marshland and also surrounding grasslands. Will also swim in open water.

Grouse & Quail

Northern Bobwhite - Colinus virginianus

Description: Rufus and grey mottled plumage to blend into grassland habitats. The brown-black bill is short and stubby with a downward curve. Males have a white throat and brow stripe, separated by a black stripe. The brow strip also has a black accent. The other distinctive feature is a gray tail.

Ecology: Nests on the ground in dense vegetation. The nest is a shallow depression lined with grass, leaves. Grass and weeds are often woven into an arch over nest, making it very well hidden, with entrance at one side. 12-16 eggs hatch after 23-24 days. The brood leaves the nest soon after hatching and are able to feed themselves. They can make short flights by 1-2 weeks old.

Nantucket: The only quail species native to the northeast. Massachusetts is the northern limit or its range. Semi open habitats, grasslands with shrubby patches or rough farm land. Occasional seen on golf course roughs. Smooth Hummocks, Head of Plains and around Sankaty head.

Ring-necked Pheasant - Phasianus colchicus

Description: Variable color forms include whites, reds, oranges and blacks. Typical morph is copper red to chestnut brown with iridescent green and purple hues. The tail of the adult male is long and brown with black streaks or bars. The head is bottle green with a small crest and distinctive red wattle and a white neck ring, and two ear tufts.

Ecology: Males may have multiple mates. Females construct a nest under dense vegetation on the ground, from grass and leaves. 10-12 eggs are incubated by the female only for 23-28 days. The family leaves the nest after hatching and the chicks are capable of feeding themselves. Chicks can manage short flight at about 12 days old, however, they will remain with the female for up to 12 weeks. Diet. They are omnivorous and will eat insects, grains, seeds, shoots buds, berries, spiders, snails and are also known to eat small lizards and rodents. Frequently seen scratching or digging to uncover food.

Nantucket: Species is originally from eastern Asia. Brough to Europe around the 12th century and became naturalized. Brought to America by the governors of New York and New Hampshire in the 1730’s and now widely established. On Nantucket it is a game species that has an annual release. Can be seen in any open grassland or scrubland area.

Pigeons & Doves

Rock Pigeon - Columba livia

Description: Common city pigeon. Very variable in color and appearance. The original cliff nesting variant from Europe is described here, but can be browns, whites, blacks and any other mix. Dark blue-grey head with glossy yellow, green red and purple iridescence. Eye is orange. The bill is grey-black with a conspicuous off-white cere. Has a white patch on the lower back, and two black wing bars. The feet are purple to red.

Ecology: Usually mates for life. The strutting puff-breasted display, strutting in circles of the males is a familiar dance seen on city streets, and even here on Nantucket. The nest is located on cliffs, tall buildings, window ledges, rain gutters or any high structure. Nest is usually made from twigs and grasses. Pair will repeatedly use the same nest site. 2 eggs are incubated for 16-19 days. Chicks are fed “pigeon milk” by both parents. Chicks fledge at around 25-32 days. A pair of pigeons may raise up to 5 broods per year. Diet is mostly seeds. In cities, most any dropped food. Away from cities, seeds, berries, waist grains and also insects and earthworms.

Ecology: Introduced to America by European colonists in the early 17th century (1600’s). Common around the town center. Also seen on upper beach rack lines on the inner harbor. Use farmland and fields around the island. During the summer, almost always present around the Steamship Authority dock.

Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura

Description: The beak is short and brown to black. They have a white crescent ring around the front of the eye. The overall appearance is light gray-brown with a light pink tinge to the underparts. Look for black spots on the wings. The outer tail feathers are black and the inner one white. Males and females are similar, but breeding males have a pink to purple patch on either side of the neck. The legs and feet are short and red, with one toe at the back for perching.

Ecology: Diet is almost exclusively seeds. Cultivated grain is a favorite. Will also take grass and weed seeds. Very rarely takes insects. Nest site is usually in a tree or shrub, but may also nest on the ground, cliff, or building ledge. Male brings material and female builds the nest. Nest is a precarious and flimsy construction, of a twig platform. A prolific breeder. Lays only 2 eggs per clutch, but can have 6 clutches per year. Both adults incubate eggs for about 14 days. Parents feed chicks "pigeon milk". Leave nest around 14-15 days, but a fed by the parents for another 1-2 weeks.

Nantucket: A group of five sub-species with Zenaida macroura carolinensis on the eastern U.S. It is a common species that occupies a wide verity of habitats. Open and semi open habitats of forests and grasslands, gardens, urban areas and farmland. Can be found almost everywhere on Nantucket. A good one for new bird enthusiasts to learn as they can find and identify it again easily.

Vultures, Hawkes & Eagles

Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura

Description: Impressive wing span to 6 feet, mostly glides to conserve energy. The upper and lower parts are dark brown to blackish. The flight feathers are grey above and below. The head looks small as it is featherless and only shows red skin. The beak is short and white to ivory colored. The eyes are grey to grey-brown. The legs are pink, though are stained white.

Ecology: The diet is mostly carrion. They prefer freshly dead animals to rotting. Little to no nest constructed. Nests in hollows in trees or crevices, on cliff ledges or in caves. Site is usually well sheltered. Eggs laid directly on chosen nest site. Two eggs are incubated for 34-41 days. Fed by adults who regurgitate food for them. Fledge at 63-70 days.

Nantucket: Nantucket and Massachusetts are on the northern limit of their year-round range. North of here, they do breed, but go south of here for the winter. Turkey vultures do not currently breed on Nantucket. Though there is a good chance that these vultures will breed here in the near future.

Osprey - Pandion haliaetus

Description: The back and wing back are brown to dark brown and appear glossy or shiny. The underparts are usually white, though can be streaked brown or pale grown. The eyes are yellow or golden, and stand out in a face mask of brown that streaks back from the eyes. The beak is black and the feet and white with blacks talons.

Ecology: Eats almost exclusively fish. Mostly takes fish 4-12 inches long. The fish it takes depend on fish available in the region. Dives feet first into the water to grab prey with its talons. Nests on top of a tall tree near water. Will also use poles. Nest is a mass of sticks lined with finer materials. Nests used for years can become enormous. Three eggs incubated by both adults hatch after 38 days. Female mostly stays at nest and male brings food when chicks are young. Both parents bring food to older chicks. First flight around 51 to 54 days.

Nantucket: On Nantucket, Osprey mostly use nest poles. A pole with a platform on top. Nest poles are common sight around Madaket Harbor, Hummock Pond and Long Pond. When they catch a fish, they align the fish head forward to fly with it.

Northern Harrier - Circus cyaneus

MA state: Threatened

Description: Males and females differ. Males are mostly grey, and the females and juveniles are brown to dark brown. However, the distinctive white ring at the base of the tail sets this species apart from all other birds of prey.

Ecology: Courting pairs engage in sky dancing displays where they fall from a height in a series of deep undulations. Nests are constructed on the ground from branches, twigs and grass. An average of four eggs hatch after 29-39 days and chicks fledge after 35-37 days. These birds typically winter in coastal areas from Massachusetts south to Mexico, West Indies and to South America. Small birds and small mammals represent to majority of the diet.

Nantucket: Northern Harrier does better in Nantucket than in other part of Massachusetts, with high population densities and nest success rates. Harriers use most terrestrial habitats on the island, with marshes and open grasslands being favorite hunting areas. Coastal dunes are also regularly used. Other names for this bird are Marsh harrier and Hen harrier.

Cooper’s Hawk - Accipiter cooperii

Description: Adults have red eyes and have a black cap. The wingbacks and back are blue-gray and white underparts with fine, thin, reddish bars. Their tail is blue-gray on top and pale underneath, barred with darker or black bands. The legs are yellow with black talons.

Ecology: Very agile hawk that hunts in deciduous, mixed woodlands and open woodlands. Flies through trees and vegetation to catch birds, mostly song birds and other medium sized woodland birds, by surprise. Also hunts from concealed perches. Nest is usually in a tall conifer or deciduous tree on an existing structure such as another nest, squirrel dray or clump of vines. Nest can be sprawling or bulky foundation of sticks lined with finer materials. 3-5 eggs are incubated by the female mostly, for 34-36 days and fledge at 30-37 days.

Nantucket: Cooper’s hawk nest on Nantucket in wooded areas like Squam and Head of the Plane. They have even been seen in the elms on the upper parts of Main Street.

Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus

MA state: Threatened

Description: The national bird and symbol of the United States of America. A powerful large raptor. Overall color is brown with white head and tail. Large hooked beak and talons are yellow. Immature birds can appear mostly brown. Wing span can be more than 6 feet and can live for 20 years.

Ecology: Diet is mostly fish, snatched from the water. Will also take birds and mammals. Will also scavenge and feed on carrion. Nest is usually in a very tall tree, and is added to each year and can become very large, up to 10-12 feet across. Made from sticks and twigs, built by both adults. Two eggs are incubated for 34-36 days, though sometimes only 1 survives. Chicks fledge at around 10-12 weeks and will continue to be fed by adults for a few months.

Nantucket: Occasional visitor to Nantucket. Spotted most years as a vagrant. Reintroduced to Massachusetts in 1982. Vagrant juveniles or non-breeding adults can be spotted just about anywhere as they wander. In recent years they have been spotted around the Cranberry bogs, the town dump and Eel Point road area.

Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis

Description: Appearance is variable by region in North America. Northeastern birds have rich to dark brown back. The underparts are pale with a streaked belly. The tail is usually pale on the underside and a rich red, sometimes called cinnamon red on the back.

Ecology: Courtship displays involve a pair circling each other, and soaring very high while making shrill calls to each other. Nests are usually in the tall trees, where they make a large bowl from sticks and twigs, lined with leafy branches. 2-3 eggs hatch after 28-35 days. Male bring food and female and she tears it up for young chicks. Older chicks tare up their own food. Chick fledge at about 6-7 weeks and remain with the parents for a few more months.

Nantucket: Most familiar and widely distributed hawk in North America and is well represented on Nantucket. Mostly in the more inland parts of the Island, arounds trees and open grassland. Almost always seen on a drive on the Madaket or Milestone roads. Head of Plains is a favorite place for nesting and foraging.

Falcons

American Kestrel - Falco sparverius

Description: The smallest bird of prey in North America. The head is white with a grey cap. There are two narrow, vertical black facial markings on each side of the head. Two black spots (ocelli) can be found on each side of the white or orangish nape. The back is rufous. The belly and flanks are white with black spotting. They have blue-grey wings with black spots and white undersides. The tail is also rufous, with a white or rufous tip. The undersides of the females are creamy to pale orange with heavy brown streaking. The tail is noticeably different from the male's, being rufous with several narrow dark black bars.

Ecology: Small mammals, song birds and large insects. Mice and voles are favored with bats also taken. Grasshoppers, beetles, dragonflies and moths are some of the preferred insects. Hunts mostly by watching from a perch to conserve energy. Nests in cavities, usually in dead trees or on cliffs. May also use nest boxes. 4-6 eggs are incubated by both parents for 28-31 days. Male brings food and the female stays with chicks for first 10-14 days. Later both adults hunt. Chicks fledge around 30 days. Fed by parents for another 2 weeks.

Nantucket: The preferred habitat is open countryside, farmland and woodland edges. Most records on Nantucket are from the eastern half of the island, such as around the Bartlett Farm area and Madaket. On the western side of the island most records are from the cranberry bogs.

Merlin - Falco columbarius

Description: Small bird of prey with a wingspan of only 20-25 inches, though is strong and stout. Head, back and wingbacks are blue-grey, though vary from light grey to almost black. Underparts are pale grey to orange brown. The eyes are dark colored, and the beak is dark grey to black. The feet a yellow with black talons.

Ecology: Specialist at feeding on small to medium song birds and ground birds up to quail size. Doves are a particular favorite. Nests in semi open areas with trees and open ground for hunting. Nest is usually in a tree and is a former crow or hawks nest. Little to nothing added. 4-5 eggs are incubated for 28-32 days. Female incubates and male brings food. Chicks fledge round 30 days.

Nantucket: Good places to see Merlin are around the Miacomet Golf Course, Tom Nevers, Smooth Hummock and Ram Pasture to Head of the Plains. A few pairs breed around the island every year.

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus

MA state: Threatened

Description: Known for its exceptional speed, it can reach 200-240mph. The back and wings can be variable in color from blue/black to black to grey, though the wingtips generally appear black. The underparts can be white to rusty brown with dark brown to black bars. The tail is long, narrow and rounded at the end. The base of the beak is yellow, thought he beck is mostly black. The feet are yellow and the talons are black.

Ecology: Peregrines need to be fast as the mainly feed on birds, and can either catch them by surprise or by chasing them down. They may also occasionally take other prey such as small mammals and insects. Nests are usually places high up such as cliffs, very tall trees or hill top, and increasingly within cities using tall buildings and skyscrapers, or even bridges. Nest may be a simple assemblage of twigs or a scrape on very high ground / building. 3-4 eggs are incubated for 32-35 days and the male brings food during incubation and while chicks are young. Fledge at 39-49 days.

Nantucket: Can be spotted in most parts of the island, but seems to like the harbors. Madaket harbor is a good place to look. No information on nesting peregrines could be found, and there is only limited availability of nesting locations on island, with very few tall trees, cliffs or tall buildings.

Owls

Barn Owl - Tyto alba

MA state: Special Concern

Description: White underparts with a white face disc. Head, back and wings are typically light brown with some shades of grey. Can be variable from very light brown or even white backed to very dark brown or almost black. Face disc is described as heart shaped. Does not hoot; usual call is a screaming or rasping “Shree”.

Ecology: Diet is mainly small mammals such as mice, rats, voles though will also occasionally take birds lizards and other small prey. Nests is usually in manmade structures like bell towers, barns, abandoned houses or anywhere they can find a corner or cervices. Will also nest in tree holes. Nest is a crude depression on poorly arranged debris. 3-8 eggs are incubated for 29-34 days by the female only. Food largely brought to nest by male. Chicks fledge around 55-65 days. Can have 1-2 broods per year, rarely 3 in a good year.

Nantucket: On Nantucket, there is a nest box program to increase the number of nesting sites. Most frequent and abundant owl on Nantucket. Can be spotted in most of the island habitats around dusk. Present through most of the year, or all year, weather dependent. Snow or worst weather can force them south. Likes open grassland and meadows best.

Snowy Owl - Bubo scandiacus

Description: A large white owl with grey spots on the head back and wingbacks. Has piercing yellow eyes.

Ecology: Snowy Owls breed in the arctic and tundra. During the winter they can move south and become nomadic. Massachusetts is about the southern limit of their wintering range. Arctic diet is mostly lemmings. Wintering diets is mostly any small mammal, particularly rodents and rabbits. Nest I usually on a raised site like on a mound or small hill with good surrounding visibility. Nest is built by female and is only a simple depression. Can be used for years. 3-11 eggs incubated by the female only, hatch at 31-33 days and fly at about 7 weeks.

Nantucket: A winter visitor to Nantucket. Likes the more open and windswept parts of the island such as Great Point & Coatue, Smith’s Point, Eel Point and the Airport. Usually leave by April, though has been known to remain until June. Feeds by day and by night when on Nantucket.

Short-eared Owl - Asio flammeus

MA state: Endangered

Description: A medium sized brown owl. It has large yellow to yellow-orange eyes, with a characteristic black ring around the eyes. The beak is black and hooked. The overall coloring is tawny or brown. Features to look for are the streaking on the upper breast and bars on the tail. The short ear feather tufts are usually held flat or are hard to see.

Ecology: Considered the night time counterpart of the Northern harrier, occupying the same ecological niche, only by night. Like the Northern Harrier, it flies only feet above the ground in open grasslands and swoops down feet first to catch rodents, especially voles. Occasionally takes small birds, especially shore birds and terns. In Massachusetts it nests in open habitats such as sandplain grassland and maritime heathlands. Nests on the ground, usually on raised mound or hummock is constructed from grasses and feathers. 6-8 white eggs are incubated for 24-37 days by the female only and the male brings food for female and later also for chicks. Young leave the nest on foot at 12-18 days and fly at 27-36 days. Fed by parents for up to three months.

Nantucket: Nantucket has some of the best habitat for Short-eared owl in the state. However, this species is only an occasional resident. The species likes open habitats such as moors, mixed grasslands, dunes and other similar open sparsely wooded habitats. Smooth Hummocks, South Pasture and Head of the Plains are known former nesting and roosting areas.

Nightjars

Common Nighthawk - Chordeiles minor

Description: Not a hawk, nor is related to hawks. The main feature to look for is the V or fork in the tail. The other feature is a white bar or band just before the wing tip, on both the upper and lower part of the wing. Overall mottled dark brown with white spots. Has an impressive booming call heard on summer evenings.

Ecology: A generalist that occupies a wide verity of habitats and will use all but the densest forest habitats on Nantucket. Will also use burnt land and urban areas. Nighthawks are crepuscular feeding mainly at dawn and dusk. The diet is mostly insects caught on the wing, mainly moths and other crepuscular insects. Nest is usually on bare rock or gravel but will also use patches of lichen. Eggs are laid strait on the chosen site, no nest or depression and are incubated for 18 days. Chicks fledge at about 18 to 25 days.

Nantucket: They migrate from the southern wintering grounds in Argentina, arriving in Nantucket from May and only stay for the warmer months and leave again around August. From dusk can be seen almost anywhere.

Eastern Whip-poor-will - Antrostomus vociferus

MA state: Special Concern

Description: Adults have mottled plumage with the upperparts are grey, black and brown and the lower parts are grey and black. They have a very short bill and a black throat. Males have a white patch below the throat and white tips on the outer tail feathers and on the female, these parts are light brown. Has a wide gaping moth to catching insects. Chants its own name endlessly on summer nights in a three-note phrase “Whip-poor-will”.

Ecology: Feeds in and around forests on flying insects particularly moths, beetles and mosquitoes. Fly’s out from a perch at dawn, dusk and moonlit nights to catch insects, usually returning to the same spot. Leaf litter on the ground in deciduous forests is the chosen nest site. No nest, just flat ground with leaf litter. Two whitish eggs marked with grey are incubated by both parents for 19-21 days. Fed by both parents, chicks fledge at around 20 days old. Pair can have 2 broods.

Nantucket: The eastern half of Nantucket is known to support more than 20 pairs. Dry wooded areas around Wauwinet, Squam and Quidnet are some of the favorite nesting areas to find Eastern Whip-poor-will.

Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilochus colubris

Description: Only about 3 inches long, and is the only humming bird that nests in the region. The iridescent ruby red patch on the males throat is characteristic. The upper parts are metallic green and the lower parts are mostly white, blending to green. Females have a white throat patch and are a little duller. Males are smaller than females and have slightly shorter bills.

Ecology: Diet is mostly nectar and favors flows with a tubular shape. It will also take small insects such as gnats. A sugar water feeder is also a favorite and will be included in its routine. The female builds the nest usually relatively high in a tree or shrub with dense cover. She constructs a nest cup from very fine grasses, plant fibers and spider webs. It is lined with plant down and camouflaged with dead leaves and lichens on the outside of the cup. 2 white eggs are incubated by the female hatch after 11-16 day. Fed by the female only. Nest expands as the chicks grow. Fledge at 20-22 days. 2-3 broods per summer. Female can start building the second nest before chicks fledge.

Nantucket: Ruby-throated humming birds do visit Nantucket and people certainly do put out special feeders for them each year as they are a highly prized garden visitor from May to August.

Swifts

Chimney Swift - Chaetura pelagica

Description: The beak and feet black. It has large brown eyes. The key feature to look for is the long, slender and curved wings. They are overall gray brown to olive brown. The throat and rump are paler. Can be loud and gregarious. Usually seen in loose flocks.

Ecology: The diet is mainly flying insects. Anything that can be count on the wing including flies, wasps, bees and mayflies. Nests in hollow trees, but chimneys serve the same purpose, and is now the most frequent nest site. Sometimes, hundreds or even thousands can roost in the same chimney. It can’t land or stand horizontally, rather clings vertically to the side of a wall on inside of a chimney. Nest is built by both adults and is constructed of twigs stuck together with saliva. 4-5 eggs incubated by both adults hatch after 19-21 days. Parents regurgitate insects for chicks. Crawl from nest around 20 days and capable of flight at 28 days.

Nantucket: Found throughout the eastern half of the United States and southeast Canada. On Nantucket from June to August and will use all open skies and areas around town. It drinks on the wing and even baths on the wing, by bumping it breast on the surface of water. Migrates south to Peru and Amazon basin in South America from August.

Martins & Swallows

Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolor

Description: The tree swallow has glossy blue to blue-green upperparts. The wings and tail are black, and the underparts are white. The beak is black, and the brown eyes are set in black eyepatches. The female duller than the male and the first-year female has mostly brown upperparts, with some blue feathers.

Ecology: Diet is mostly insects, particularly flies and winged ants. Unusually, for swallows, it will also eat berries, particularly Bayberry, and can be 20% of the diet. Nest is tree holes, nest boxes, and will occasionally use ground holes. Nest is mostly built by the female is a cup of grass, moss and pine needles lined with feathers. 4-7 eggs incubated by the female only for 14-15 days. Both parents feed chick. Fledge 18-22 days after hatching.

Nantucket: Widespread across Nantucket in the summer. Likes open country near water. So, most of the island. Limiting factor is cavity to nest in.

Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica

Description: Here are 6 sub-species and the species is preset across the globe. The American subspecies is Hirundo rustica erythrogaster. It has steel blue upperparts and a rufous forehead, chin and throat. The outer tail feathers are elongated, giving the distinctive deeply forked "swallow tail". Females have shorter tail streamers than males.

Ecology: Diet it almost completely insects. Mostly count on the wing. Only forages on the ground in bad weather. Flies, bees, beetles, wasps, winged ants are favorites. Nests in individually or in small loose groups. Nest sites were originally on cliffs on in caves. Now nests on man-made structures such as s eves of houses, under bridges or in open buildings. Nest built by both, it is a cup made of mud and dry grass and lined with feathers. 4-5 eggs are incubated by both parents for 13-17 days. Sometimes also fed by young of previous brood. Fledge at 18-23 days. 1-2 broods per year.

Nantucket: Breeds all across North American and winters throughout central and South America. Likes open and semi-open fields, marshes, town and near water. Arrives on Nantucket in May and southward migration starts again in Mid-August.

Kingfishers

Belted Kingfisher - Megaceryle alcyon

Description: A stocky bird with a large head with a shaggy crest. The beak is black and is long, with a grey base. Adults have slate blue heads, a large white collar, a large blue band on the breast, and white underparts. The back is also slate blue with some black and white dots. The female has a rufous band across the upper belly that extends down the sides. Males are more brightly colored, but this difference of a rufous band on the females is key.

Ecology: Watches from a perch over water such as a branch, rock or wire etc. May also hover over water occasionally. Catches fish at the surface of the water by diving head first to catch them with it beak. Fish 4-5 inches are the main pray. May also take frogs, tadpoles, aquatic insects and occasionally lizards. Male and female dig a nest whole about 6 inches into a vertical bank, usually has an upward slope. Nest chamber is bare, with no materials added. 6-7 eggs incubated by both for 22-24 days. Both parents feed young chicks partly digested fish, moving to whole fish as they grow. Chicks leave the nest around 28 days, but are fed by the parents for another 3 weeks.

Nantucket: A year-round resident on Nantucket, but not regularly spotted. Nantucket birds may move south in the winter, and are replaced by birds from further north. Harsh weather may force the winter birds south too. Needs open, clear water to hunt. Can use bays and estuaries as well as river, and ponds. On Nantucket that are notably scares as there is a shortage of suitable vertical banks for nest sites. Hummock Pond and Long Pond are good places to look.

Eastern Kingbird - Tyrannus tyrannus

Description: A large flycatcher. Adults are grey-black on the upperparts with light underparts. They have a long black tail with a white end and long pointed wings. They have a red patch on their crown which is rarely seen.

Ecology: Insects are the majority of the summer diet. Watches from a perch and flies out to catch insects on the wing. Takes flies, bees, wasps, grasshoppers and winged ants. Nests in tree or large scrub usually high above the ground. Also know to select unusually nest site such as cell towers. Nest is built mostly by the female and is a bulky cup of twigs and stems lined with fine grass and animal hair. 3-4 eggs incubated by the female mostly for 16-18 days. Both parents feed chicks that fledge at 16-18 days. Fed by parents for

Nantucket: Required open habitat with some trees and shrubs in the summer to forage. Sandplane grassland is ideal. Also uses march edges and edge of woodlands. Head of the Planes, Smooth Hummock are good places to look. Other suitable locations are around Tom Nevers and Alter Rock.

American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla

Description: Males are mostly black covering the head, neck, back and breast. The underparts a white. Most notable are the orange patches on the side of the Brest, wings and tail. Females have more olive colored upper parts with yellow patches on the sides of the breast, wings and tail.

Ecology: A deciduous and mixed woodland, and scrubland species. Very active forager. Mostly eats insects. Caterpillars, moths, leafhoppers, midges, crane flies and spiders. Nest is an open cup built by female in a tree fork from grass and lichen lined with feathers. 4 eggs incubated by the female only for 11-12 days. Fed by both parents. Leave the nest abound 9 days. Each parent takes half the brood and attends to those chicks only.

Nantucket: On Nantucket during the summer for its breeding season and winters in central and south America. The woodlands around Squam Swamp and Head of the Planes are good places to look.

Northern Shrike - Lanius excubitor

Description: A robin sized songbird that is pale gray above, white below, with faint barring on underparts. It has a bold black mask ending at bill. The tail is black with white edges. It has a stout and hooked beak.

Ecology: A predator. Watches from a perch and darts out to catch smaller song birds, rodents and large insects. Kills birds and rodents with its hooked beak. In the sub-arctic and tundra, nests are in small trees or shrubs and is a bulky open cup made of twigs, bark strips, grass and moss lined with feathers and animal hair. 4-7 eggs incubated by the female mostly, hatch after 15-17 days. Fed by both parents. Fledge around 20 days and a fed for 3-4 more weeks.

Nantucket: An occasional visitor to Nantucket, mostly spotted on the western half of the island, and rarely east of town. Breeds in the far north and only seen on Nantucket during winter months. Has a gruesome habit of impaling dead pray on a thorn or barbed wire for later consumption.

Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus

Description: A medium to large wading bird. It had a long beak with a downward curve at the tip. Longer beak in females than males. It is generally a brown to gray brown color. Lighter color on the underside. Dark brown crown.

Ecology: Preferred habitat is seashores, mudflats and marshes where is uses it long beak to pick up crustaceans in water or probe the surface of sediments for insects, mollusks or crustaceans. Does not probe deeply. Nest is a shallow depression in lined with moss on slightly razed ground in the tundra. 4 eggs incubated by both parents for 24-28 days. Leave the nest son after hatching and can feed themselves. Flight at around 40 days.

Nantucket: A group of around seven subspecies. The subspecies Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus breeds around northeast Canada, and winters from Newfoundland to the Caribbean. Mostly seen on Nantucket as a passage migrant, though the occasional bird hangs around from time to time.

Killdeer - Charadrius vociferous

Description: It has a short, black beak and a red eye ring. It has a black cap and white brow to the beak. It has a white chin color and a black neck color, both go around to the back of the neck. Below that is a white and black breast stripes. The upper parts are brown to rufous and the underparts are white. The female face mask is more brown than black.

Ecology: Grassland insects such as beetles, caterpillars, and spiders with coastal invertebrates also taken. Feeding behaviors is to run a few steps, pause and peck at food item, and repeat. Nests on the ground in open grassy areas on bare soil or gravel. Nest is a shallow scrape lined with grass, pebbles or other fine debris. 4 eggs incubated by both adults for 24-28 days. Chicks leave nest after hatching and can feed themselves. Tended by both parents. Fledge at around 25 days.

Nantucket: Preferred habitat are open grassy areas, fields, airports, mudflats and coastal areas. Usually fairly conspicuous. Best known for its song, when it calls its own name. Open grass areas such as Smooth Hummocks and Head of the Planes are preferred. Sometimes on golf courses on island.

Willet - Tringa semipalmata

Description: Willets have a shortish, heavy but straight beak. They have a distinct white patch between the eyes and beak that links to a narrow whitish eye ring. The plumage is grey above with a white rump, and white below. The underparts are white. The legs are grey. In breeding plumage the bird shows brown barring on the upper parts. Non breeding birds are plainer.

Ecology: Wades through shallow water and mudflats looking for insects, crustaceans, marine worms. Crabs, particularly Fiddler crabs are a favorite. Nests on the ground in dense grassy areas within sight of water. Nest is shallow depression with grass bent down to form foundation, lined with finer grasses. 4 eggs incubated by both parents for 22-29 days. Chicks leave the nest within a day of hatching and are taken by parents to feed in marshy areas. Both parents tend young, though female leaves after about 2 weeks. Fledge at around 28 days.

Nantucket: Breeds on Nantucket, mostly around Smith Point, Eel Point, Great Point and Coatue. These remote locations make it difficult to find. When found, it can be a particularly noisy bird as it attempts to distract predators and people that approach its nest area.

Northern Flicker - Colaptes auratus

Description: A large woodpecker. Key feature is that adult are brown with black bars on the back and wings. It has a black patch on the upper breast, and the lower breast and belly are beige with black spots. Males can be identified by a black or red stripe at the base of the beak. The tail is dark on top, with white rump.

Ecology: Diet is mostly insects. The majority of the insect diet is ants. Will also take caterpillars, beetles and other insects. May also take fruit berries and seeds. Both adults excavate a cavity in a chosen nest tree. May also use nest boxes or other abandoned nest holes. European Starlings may force them from their nest holes. 5-8 eggs incubated by both adults for 11-16 days. Parents regurgitate food for chicks. Fledge around 28 days. Remain with parent s for a few more weeks.

Nantucket: Can be spotted is most parts of the island, though not in any great regulatory in the summer. Prefers open wooded habitats and semi open habitats. Areas like Warrens Landing, Sconset, gardens around Town and Gardner Farm are good places to look.

Eastern Bluebird - Sialia sialis

Description: A small songbird. Breeding males have bright blue head, back, wings and tail. It has an orange to brown breast and sides with white belly and rump. Females are less vibrant, but similar to males and juveniles are more brown and speckled.

Ecology: Summer diet is mostly insects including beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, worms and snails. Winter diet is mostly berries. Cavity nester in old woodpecker holes or nest boxes. Nest in cavity is a cup made of twigs and grass lined with feathers and animal hair. 4-5 eggs incubated by the female for 13-16 days. Both adults feed chicks. Chicks fledge at around 19 days.

Nantucket: An occasional visitor to Nantucket or an uncommon breeder. Uses semi-open habitats, open pine woodlands, farmland and gardens. Most records on Nantucket come from Squam and the Hummock Pond Road area where there is a mix of farms and pine forests.

Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris

Description: A group of 42 sub-species found throughout the northern hemisphere. 27 of these sub-species are found in north America. In the northeast the local sub-species is Prairie Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris praticola. It is mainly brown-grey above and pale below, with a black and yellow face pattern. The outside feathers of the tail are black. In summer the male has black "horns", which give this species its name.

Ecology: Its summer diet is mostly insects. Though grass and weed seeds and waste grain are also important through the year. Nest is on open ground, usually placed next to a tuft of grass. Nest is built mostly by the female and is a depression in the grass lined with fine grasses and plant down. One side of the nest is typically flattened and has pebbles and is known a s a “doorstep”. 3-4 eggs are incubated by the female only for 10-12 days. Chicks are fed by both parents. Chicks leave the nest around 10 days old to forage and are able to fly by 20 days.

Nantucket: Likes open expanses of grassland including airports, farmland, coastlines, prairies and tundra. On Nantucket it uses mostly coastal areas particularly Coatue, Low Beach and Tom Nevers, Bartlett Farm, the airport and areas around Madaket Harbor.

Golden-crowned Kinglet - Regulus satrapa

Description: One of the smallest song birds in North America. It has a short, thin beak. They have a black stripe through the eyes and a yellow crown surrounded by black. The adult male has an orange patch in the middle of the yellow crown. Adults are olive-gray on the upperparts with white underparts.

Ecology: Very active forager, mostly in pine trees. Takes tiny insects including gnats, aphids, small beetles, caterpillars and spiders. Will also feed on oozing sap. Nests mostly in spruce or other conifer. Nest built on a hanging branch close to the truck and protected by overhead vegetation. Female builds a hanging cup from trigs, most lichen, spider webs and leaves, and lines it with feathers ad plant down. 8-9 eggs are arranged in two layers in the nest. Incubated by female only for 14-15 days. Male feeds female. Both parents feed chicks. Fledge at 14-19 days.

Nantucket: Mostly spotted on Nantucket during the winter. Uses wooded areas and prefers conifer woodlands. The State Forest on Old South Road is a good place to find them.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Regulus calendula

Description: Tiny, but slightly larger than Golden-crowned Kinglet. It has gray-green upper parts and olive-buff underparts. It has a broken white eye ring. The male has a scarlet-red crown patch, which is usually concealed by the surrounding feathers. Females are identical to males but lack the crown.

Ecology: Diet is mainly tiny insects including gnats, aphids, small beetles, caterpillars, f lies, leafhoppers, and spiders. Also takes berries and seeds in winter. Will also feed on oozing sap and flowers for nectar. Nest built on a hanging branch close to the truck and protected by overhead vegetation. Female builds a hanging cup from trigs, most lichen, spider webs and leaves, and lines it with feathers ad plant down.7-8 eggs incubated by the female only for 13-14 days. Male feeds female. Both parents feed chicks. Fledge around 16 days.

Nantucket: A less common winter visitor than Golden-crowned Kinglet. In the winter it uses more diverse woodlands such as deciduous and scrub areas.

Brown Creeper - Certhia Americana

Description: They have a long thin bill with a downward curve. Adults have brown upper parts with pale or white spots, so that they can blend into tree bark. The underparts are white. They have a long stiff tail used for support as the bird creeps upwards on trees.

Ecology: Forages on bark of trunks and branches of mature trees looking for insects, insect eggs, pupae, beetles, leafhoppers, ants and other bark dwelling insect species. Nests behind a large strip of dethatching bark, still attached to the tree. May sometimes use a tree cavity. Nest is a half-cup tightly fitted into the crevasse behind the bark. Nest built by female from twigs, leaves and moss. 5-6 eggs incubated by the female only for 14-17 days. Chicks fledge at around 16 days.

Nantucket: A group of 9-15 subspecies. likes older trees with more developed and creviced bark, both conifer or deciduous trees. Occasionally spotted on larger and more mature trees throughout the downtown area.

Wrens

Carolina Wren - Thryothorus ludovicianus

Description: The beak is yellow, and the lower mandible is slightly paler. The overall appearance is chestnuts brown. It has a pale brown to white stipe over the eye. It has white speckling on the wings and back. The throat is white that fades to buff brown breast and underside. The tail is long with dark and light brown bars.

Ecology: Diet is mostly insects foraged from trees, ground and especially dense undergrowth. Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles and caterpillars are preferred in summer with seers and berries also taken in winter. A cavity nester and most any craves will do. Nest boxes, woodpecker holes, brush piles, tree knots, under tree roots. Built by both adults, the nest is constructed of twigs, leaves and weeds, lined with moss, grass, animal hair and feathers. Usually is dome shaped and has 2 entrances. 5-6 eggs incubated by the female only for 12-16 days. Fed by both parents, chicks fledge at 12-14 days.

Nantucket: Massachusetts is the northern edge of its range, but remains here year-round. Favors gardens. Also likes almost any type of woodland and scrub area.

Wood-warblers

Common Yellowthroat - Geothlypis trichas

Description: Both sexes have olive backs, wings and tails, yellow throats and chests, and white bellies. Adult males have black face masks from the beak and forehead, down the cheeks. They have a white or gray forehead bordering the mask. Females and juveniles are similar in appearance, but have paler underparts and lack the black mask.

Ecology: Diet is mostly insects. Wide verity of insects. Beetles, flies, caterpillars, moths, ants, dragonflies, aphids and spiders. May also take small amount of seeds. Nests low to the ground in dense scrub or in a grass tussock. Female builds the nest from grasses, leaves, weeds and bark. Lined with fine grasses and hair. Nest sometimes have dome shaped roof. 3-5 eggs incubated by the female only for 12 days. Male feeds female during incubation, and both parents feed chicks. Chicks fledge around 10 days. 2 broods per year.

Nantucket: Prefers areas of dense scrub and marsh habitats. Found in good numbers in the scrublands around Alter Rock and in the Sandplain grassland scrub on the south shore. Also look in the marshes around ponds, particularly upper Miacomet pond.

American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla

Description: Males are mostly black covering the head, neck, back and breast. The underparts a white. Most notable are the orange patches on the side of the Brest, wings and tail. Females have more olive colored upper parts with yellow patches on the sides of the breast, wings and tail.

Ecology: A deciduous and mixed woodland, and scrubland species. Very active forager. Mostly eats insects. Caterpillars, moths, leafhoppers, midges, crane flies and spiders. Nest is an open cup built by female in a tree fork from grass and lichen lined with feathers. 4 eggs incubated by the female only for 11-12 days. Fed by both parents. Leave the nest abound 9 days. Each parent takes half the brood and attends to those chicks only.

Nantucket: On Nantucket during the summer for its breeding season and winters in central and south America. The woodlands around Squam Swamp and Head of the Planes are good places to look.

Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia

Description: A very variable species with about 35 sub-species. In the Northeast U.S. it is bright yellow bird. Upper parts and tail can have a green tinge. Males also have red streaks in the chest. Females are a duller yellow with no red streaks.

Ecology: Diet is mostly insects. Specializes on caterpillars. Also takes moths, beetles, mayflies and spiders. May also take berries. Nest is built by the female in an upright fork in a bush or small tree. Nest constructed from weed stalk, bark and grass, lined with plant down and animal hair. 4-5 eggs are incubated by the female only. Male feeds female. Eggs hatch at 11-12 days. Chicks fed by both parents fledge at 9-12 days.

Nantucket: Seen around Nantucket in the summer. Likes woodland edges and scrubby areas. Also likes pond and other wetland edges.

Snow buntings

Snow Bunting - Plectrophenax nivalis

Description: Breeding males are black and white with a distinctive white head. Winter both sexes develop rufous colors on the head, wing and back. Also has black bards in the wings and back. Underparts stay white.

Ecology: Winter diet is mainly seeds. Grass, sedge and a verity of weed seeds are most of the winter diet. In summer it takes a wide verity of insects. Breeds in the high arctic tundra and winters in Canada and Northern US states. Males arrive 4-6 weeks before females to breeding grounds. Nests in cavities in rocks, protected from the wind. Female builds a bulky nest of grass and moss line with feather and hair.4-7 eggs incubated by the female hatch after 10-14 days. Chicks fed by both parents, fledge at 10-17 days. 1 brood per year.

Nantucket: Though not particularly colorful, a bird with a lot of white defiantly stands out. A winter visitor that arrives in small flocks from late November. Seen most years.

New World Sparrows

American Tree Sparrow - Spizelloides arborea

Description: They have a gray face with a brown or rusty brown eye stripe and cap. Look for a small dark spot in the middle of the chest. They have a rusty back with lighter stripes, brown wings with white bars and a slim tail. The underparts are light gray to fawn, to pale rusty brown on the flanks.

Ecology: The summer diet is mostly insects. In winter they mostly eat seeds from grasses and other weeds, and like grains from feeders. May also take some berries and insects in winter. Nest built by the female in a grass tussock from grass and twigs, lines with fine grasses and feathers, usually ptarmigan feathers. 4-6 eggs incubated by the female only hatch at 11-13 days. Both parents feed chicks insects. Leave the nest without flight feathers at 8 days and fledge at 14-15 days.

Nantucket: Breeds in the Northern part of Canada to the Arctic. A specialist in the tundra. A winter visitor to Nantucket. Back yards are a favorite.

Chipping Sparrow - Spizella passerine

Description: A pale or almost white eyebrow stripe and a black line under and through the eye, with the famous rusty orange cap. The underparts are gray, and the upper parts are orangish brown, streaked black.

Ecology: Diet is insects and seeds. In the summer the preference is for caterpillars, beetles and grasshoppers and in winter they look for grass and weed seeds. Like most sparrows, grain is a favorite. The female builds a small, compacts and open nest cup from grass and lines it with fine grass and animal hair. Female then incubated the 3-4 eggs for 11-14 days. Male feeds female, then both parents feed chicks. Males can have more than 1 female to attend too. Young fledge at 8-12 days. Usually 2 broods per year.

Nantucket: Present on island year-round. Common in and around town and anywhere there are short trees. In winter can be seen in flocks, sometimes with other bird species. Main threat is the introduced House Sparrow, which fills a very similar niche in towns, and then outcompete the Chipping Sparrow.

“Red” Fox Sparrow - Passerella iliaca

Description: Four different color patters. Much debate over the number of species or sub-species. In the northeast we have the red color morph. The head is gray with a rufous crown. Throat is white with a rufous lateral stripe on each side. The lower bill is yellow while the top can be yellow to black. The chest has reddish brown streaks. The streaks continue down the sides but the belly is generally white. The combination of distinct rufous and gray streaks on the back with a gray rump is key feature.

Ecology: Diet in the northern breeding Tundra and Tiega areas is mainly insects. Winter diet is based on grass and weed seeds. Will also eat berries. In coastal areas will also take small crustaceans from beaches. Nest is built on the ground under dense cover. Outer wall of twigs, inner wall of grasses, lined with fine grasses. 2-5 eggs incubated by the female only. Both parents feed chicks, fledge at 9-11 days.

Nantucket: A winter visitor to Nantucket bird feeders. Will also forage in yards or rough grassland areas.

Dark-eyes Junco - Junco hyemalis

Description: At least 5 different variations. The northeastern U.S. mostly has the Slate-colored form. The head, neck and chest is usually grey. The wings can be grey or brown. The belly and under parts are white or pale gray. The eye is black and beak usually pink.

Ecology: Summer diet is mostly insects such as caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers and spiders. Will also take a lot of seeds in the summer. The winter diet is mostly seeds including grass and weed seeds and also feeders. Nests on the ground under cover, usually grasses, wood pile rocks etc. Nest cup constructed by the female of leaves, grasses and lined with fine grasses, feather and hair. 3-5 eggs incubated by the female, hatch at 11-13 days and fed by both adults. Fledge at 10-13 days. 1-2 broods per year.

Nantucket: Misses the Nantucket summer. Can be found on island from October to May. The species does breed in conifer forests in Western Massachusetts, but not on Cape Cod or the Islands.

Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia

Description: A muted looking sparrow, easily confused with Savannah Sparrow and Lincoln’s Sparrow. It has brown upper parts, streaked black and white lower parts streaked brown and black. They have a brown cap and rounded tail. The face is grey with a darker brown to black streak through the eye.

Ecology: Diet is mostly insects in summer and almost exclusively seeds in winter. Birds in coastal areas and on islands also feed on crustaceans. Nest is usually on the ground or low to the ground in shrubs. Built by female from weeds, leave and grass, lined with finer materials and animal hair. Usually 4 eggs, incubated by the female only hatch at 12-14 days. Fed by both parents. Leave the nest at 12-12 days and remain with parent s for another 2-3 weeks.

Nantucket: Nantucket children a thought that it sings the song "Hip-hip-hooray boys - spring is here!" as an approximation of the air of its song. Favors any dense habitat or hedge-type habitat, as may be found in gardens.

Eastern Towhee - Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Description: A large, well colored sparrow. The underparts are white with a distinctive brown to rufous sides. The males have black head, upper chest, back and tail. In the females this is brown. The tail is long with a white edge in both sexes. The eye is red in the northeast.

Ecology: Eats mainly insects particularly in summer. Will also consume seeds and fruit. Forages on the ground in leaf litter and under shups and other cover for beetles, caterpillars, spiders, snails and other bugs. Nests on the ground on low in shrub, under 5 feet. Nest is a cup built by the female of grass and leaves, sometimes lined with animal hair. 3-4 eggs incubate for 12-13 days, then fed by both parents and fledge at 10-12 days. Stay in parent’s territory for much time after. 2-3 broods per summer.

Nantucket: A summer breeder on Nantucket, migrates in early fall. A ground bird that prefers rougher or less maintained sections of gardens. Will also forage under hanging feeders and has also been seen on platform feeders.

Old World Sparrows

House Sparrow - Passer domesticus

Description: Somewhat variable and the sexes differ. The male had a gray cap and chestnut brown sides of the head. The throat and bib are black, and the black bid can be very variable in size. The cheeks and remainder of the underparts are grey and/or white. The wingbacks and back are brown, streaked with black. The rump and tail are usually grey or grey-brown. The females usually have a more orange-brown overall appearance.

Ecology: Diet is mainly seeds, which a large proportion of insects in summer. Also consumes waste food in urban areas. A regular at feeders. Nest is in a hole or cavity anywhere; trees, nest boxes, hole in building, rain gutter etc. nest is made by both adults of grass, with small twigs and lined with trash and feathers. Material is mounded with an entrance to one side. 3-6 eggs are incubated by both parents for 10-14 days. Fed by both parents and fledge at 14 days. 2-3 broods per year.

Nantucket: A cosmopolitan species from Europe and western Asia that has been introduced to North and South America, Southern African countries, and around Australasia. First introduced to Brooklyn, NY in the 1851. Introduced there and other cities in an attempt to control Gypsy Moth caterpillars. However, it prefers grain and has become an agricultural pest. First confirmed recording on Nantucket is from 1964*.

Finches

Purple Finch - Haemorhous purpureus

Description: Not purple. Male is rose or raspberry red on the head, chest, back and wings. Females have light brown upperparts and white underparts with dark brown streaks. Both have a short, forked tail.

Ecology: Diet is mainly seeds with berries and buds and some insects. Chicks mainly fed seeds. Nests usually in conifers, on branch away from trunk. Nest built mostly by female of twigs, bark strips and weeds lined with fine grass, moss and animal hair. 4-5 eggs incubated most my female for 12-13 days. Fed by both adults, fledge t 14 days.

Nantucket: A fall and winter visitor to Nantucket. Breeds in conifer habitats across Canada and Northeast U.S. Lives in Massachusetts year-round but has declined on the Cape and islands. Mostly due to completion from house sparrow and house finch. Previously breed on Nantucket, now not know.

American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis

Description: The breeding males are bright lemon yellow with a distinctive black cap and black flight feathers. They also have a white patch on the rump. Females are mostly brown with a yellow bib.

Ecology: Diet is mostly seeds, with some insects. Specializes on seeds from daisy family flowers. Will take other weed and grass seeds, buds, tree sap, and small tree seeds from elm, alder and birch. Nests usually in deciduous forest or scrub. Nest placed in tree fork is built by the female. The nest is a solid and compact cup made from plant fibers, spiderwebs, plant down, especially from thistles. Nest is so well-made that it may even hold water. 4-6 eggs incubated by the female only for 12-14 days. Male feeds female. Chicks fed both by adults. Fledge at 11-17 days.

Nantucket: Will regularly visit feeders and takes mostly small seeds. Likes rough grasslands and scrub areas. Gardens and hedges are also used.

Cardinals, Grosbeaks & Allies

Summer Tanager - Piranga rubra

Description: Males are red, sometimes called rose red. Females are yellow or greenish yellow, flaked with red.

Ecology: Diet is mostly insects with some berries. Bees and wasps are a favorite. Nests is high up, mostly in deciduous trees, out from the trunk. Female makes a simple cup from grass, weeds, leaves and spider webs. 3-5 eggs incubated by the female only for 11-12 days. Bot parent s feed chicks.

Nantucket: An occasional visitor spotted in spring and fall. The breeding range is the southern U.S. states and arrives to Nantucket on strong winds.

Scarlet Tanager - Piranga olivacea

Description: The adult male is crimson red and has black wings and a black tail. The female has yellow underparts and olive colored upper parts and the tail is a mix of yellow and olive. The beak is pale grey in both.

Ecology: insects such as caterpillars, moths, wasps, bees, aphids and spiders. Will also take fruits and berries. Nest is placed high in a tree on a branch out from the trunk. Built by the female from twigs and grasses lined with fine grasses. 2-5 eggs incubated by the female only for 12-14 days. Chicks fed by both parents. Leave the nest at 9-15 days and are fed by the female for another 10-14 days.

Nantucket: A summer visitor that usually arrived in May. Most birds use Nantucket briefly before continuing north. Likes large block of wooded areas, mostly oaks, where it search for insects towards the top of trees. Will also use roadside, gardens and grasslands. Little suitable nesting habitat on Nantucket.

Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis

Description: The male is a crimson red and has a black face mask from the eyes to the upper chest. The back and wings are darker red with hints of black. The female is pale brown to gray-brown with hints of red in the chest and wings. A heavy cone shaped beak and prominent crest on top of the head is a key identifier in both males and females.

Ecology: Specialist seed eater. Mostly grains and seeds with some fruit. Will also take insects such as grasshoppers, cicadas, snails and beetles. Nest is built by the female in dense scrubs, and is a cup of twigs, grass and leaves. 3-4 eggs are incubated for 12-13 days and fledge around 9-10 days. Fed by male after fledging so the female can start the next nest attempt. 2-3 broods per year.

Nantucket: A year round resident on Nantucket for a but the worst winter weather. A staple a favorite of any garden birder. Regularly attends bird feeders, particularly those with sunflower seeds.

Indigo Bunting - Passerina cyanea

Description: The body is cerulean blue with black in the flight feathers. Only the head has the true indigo color. The female is brown on the upper parts and light brown on the lower parts.

Ecology: Seeds and insects. Summer diet is mostly insects and spiders with seeds and berries. Winter is mainly seeds with some insects. Males may have more than one female in its territory. Nests close to the ground, usually 1-3 feet. Female builds an open cup nest from grass and leaves, lined with finer materials. 3-4 eggs are incubated for 12-14 days and a fed by the female only. Fledge at 9-12 days and the male takes over feeding, while the female begins a new nest. Usually 2 broods.

Nantucket: On Nantucket during the breeding season. Winters in the tropics. Uses scrub and bushy areas only. Very rarely uses agricultural land or urban land.

Painted Bunting - Passerina ciris

Description: Bright and pretty bird. It has a blue head, green and/or yellow back and red underparts. Unmistakable, but hard to spot as it hides and sings from bushes. Female is green, mostly on the back with yellow underparts.

Ecology: Consumes seeds and insects. Grass and weed seeds and will also take fruit. Main insects taken are beetles, caterpillars, flies and grasshoppers. Nests in very dense vegetation. Nest is built by the female and is mostly woven grasses with leaves, lined with fine grasses and animal hair. 2-3 eggs incubated by the female only for 11-12 days. Mostly fed by the female until they fledge at 12-14 days, then the male takes over feeding while the female builds a new nest. 2-3 broods per year.

Nantucket: Only recorded as an occasional vagrant on Nantucket and most frequently recorded on the western part of the island. Usually breeds south of Cape May.

Blackbirds

Baltimore Oriole - Icterus galbula

Description: The underparts, shoulders and rump patch are orange. The head, back and wings are black. Both the males and females have white bars on the wings. The female is brown on the back and wing and the head, breast and belly are a duller orange.

Ecology: Diet is mainly insects with berries and nectar. Summer diet is mostly insects. They specialize in hairy caterpillars that other birds avoid. Takes many other insects too. Also takes nectar and will take sugar water from feeders. Nests in deciduous forests and selects the end of handing branches to weave a nest. Female weaves a nest from grass, plant fibers, bark, etc. and lines it with fine grass, plant down and hair. 4-5 eggs incubated by the female only hatch at 12-14 days and are fed by both adults. Fledge at12-14 days.

Nantucket: Some of the town parks, such as Lily Pond are good places to find Baltimore Oriole, and are known to have breed there. Also, is a passage migrant in fall.

Red-wing Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus

Description: Males are mostly black with black pointed beaks. The red or sometimes red and yellow shoulder patches on males are largely hidden by body feather. Mostly tree parches are used for display and they display in style in the spring and summer. Patches also visible in flight. Females are blackish-brown and paler below.

Ecology: Red-wing blackbirds take an aggressive approach to breeding. First, they aggressively defend their breeding territory from most any bird, even birds much larger, and will also harass human, or any other unwanted intruders. Second, hatch and fledging times are very fact; 3-4 eggs hatch after just 10-12 days and chicks fledge 11-14 days later. Nests are a bulky open cup, inset in standing vegetation, made of grass, reeds, leaves, lined with finer grass. Diet is mainly seeds with insects being about a quarter of the diet.

Nantucket: Present on Nantucket year-round, this species is most frequently only seen when they display along pond edges or in reed beds from the top of a bush or reed. Seen around all the great ponds and just about. Miacomet pond and Hummock pond are great places to see them in large numbers.

Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula

Description: The body is black or dark purple, and so is the long tail. The head is iridescent green or blue. The other distinguishing feature is the long, dark bill and pale yellowish eyes.

Ecology: Omnivorous. Like to walk to find insects, particularly worms, caterpillars, grasshoppers and spiders. Wil also wade in shallow water to find minnows, crayfish and other invertebrates. Will also take berries, seed etc. likes to nest in tree holes or very dense vegetation. Usually nests in small colonies of about 10-20 nests. 4-5 eggs incubated by the female only for 12-14 days and chicks fledge at 16-20 days.

Nantucket: The species is associated with humans and is found in residential areas and agricultural areas. Will also use areas of Sandplain grassland – a Nantucket specialty habitat.

Starling

European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris

Description: Often regarded as flying rats for the havoc and damage they can cause, but are wonderful looking birds with iridescent feathers. The overall plumage is black with iridescent purple and green. They also can have speckled white spots, most notable in winter. Males underparts a less spotted than females year round. Legs are pinkish to grey-red and he beak is yellow in summer and brown to grey in winter.

Ecology: Cavity nesters and any cavity, hole in a building, Saguaro cactus, nest box or tree will do. Twigs, leaves, grass, trash and feather are put together in a loose mass with a depression for the 4-6 eggs. Incubation is about 12 days and the young fledge at around 21 days. Pairs usually produce two broods in a breeding season. Usually in flocks, they feed on the ground or on fruits in trees. The diet is mostly insects seeds and berries. Insects mostly taken include grasshoppers, spiders, snails, beetles and flies. They are also good generalist forager and will take items as varies as earthworms, visit flowers for nectar and bird feeders for seeds.

Nantucket: Can arrive at any time of year to Nantucket, but the largest flocks come here in winter. Flocks will aggregate on overhead wires and tree tops. Morning and evening murmurations are a sight to behold.

Rare & Occasional

Dovekie or Little Auk - Alle alle

Description: Adult birds are black on the head, neck, back and wings, with white underparts. The bill is very short and stubby. They have a small rounded black tail. The lower face and fore neck become white in winter.

Ecology: They dive underwater to feed and forage. The diet is mainly crustaceans, mainly copepods. Does not filter feed, rather uses a form of visually guided suction feeding. Breeds in large colonies on sea cliffs in the Arctic.

Nantucket: Spends winters in the open north Atlantic. Sever winter storms blow them ashore on Nantucket. Sometimes they can end up inland. A handful of recordings mot winters.

Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis

Description: It has a white head with a yellowish wash on the crown. Has a very long bill and throat pouch. Neck can be white to gray. Chest, back and wings are a grey brown color.

Ecology: The only pelican that dives from flight to the water head first. Feeds almost entirely on fish. Nests in colonies. Nests on the ground in a scrape among debris or in a tree in a large stick nest.3 eggs incubated by both parents hatch around 30 days. 5-9 weeks before it leaves the nest and 9-12 weeks before flight.

Nantucket: Wandering individuals appear around Nantucket most years.

Upland Sandpiper - Bartramia longicauda

MA State: Endangered

Description: t is marbled black and brown on the back and wings. The neck is streaked with dark brown which continues down to the breast and on to the flanks. The tail is quite long for a sandpiper. It also has a white eye-ring and long yellow legs.

Ecology: Mainly insects. Crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars spider etc. May also take seeds. Nests on the ground in dese grass. It is a shallow scrape on the ground, lined with dry grass. 4 eggs incubated by both parents for 22-27 days. Tended by both parents but young feed themselves. Capable of flight around 30 days after hatching.

Nantucket: A handful of records from Nantucket. The desired habitat is open grassland, old fields and other similar pastures. Will lso use airport grassland as they are kept short and open Not know to breed here. Sandplain grassland is a suitable habitat for this species to at least forage in and potentially nest in.

Sandhill Crane - Antigone canadensis

Description: Generally gray overall. They have red foreheads, white cheeks and long, dark, pointed bills. In flight, their long, dark legs trail behind, and their long necks keep straight. Immature birds have reddish-brown upperparts and gray underparts.

Ecology: Omnivorous. Changes with season and location. Prefers marsh and bog habitats. Seeds, roots and insects are staples. Will also consume amphibians, rodents, nestling birds. cultivated grains are also favored when available. Nests in marshy areas. Nest is made from local plant material, pulled from close to nest site. Two eggs incubated for about 30 days and fledge at about 70 days. Remain with parents for 9-10 months.

Nantucket: Breeds in western states and Canada and winters in Mexico, New Mexico, Texas and Florida. Migrating flocks have been recorded as far west as China and to Scotland in the East. Occasional vagrant in Massachusetts and found on Nantucket a few times a decade.

Black Rail - Laterallus jamaicensis

Description: Good luck seeing this bird! One of the world’s most elusive birds. More likely to hear the three-noted “kic-kee-doo" or "kic-kic-ker” calls, but this is in the middle of the night. It is dark grey over the head and chest. The wings and back are brown with white speckling. The back of the neck has a chestnut brown patch and the eyes are red. Has a short stubby tail and rounded wings in flight.

Ecology: Diet is poorly understood. Thought to eat insects, aquatic insects, snails and seeds. Probably also eats spiders, crustaceans, beetles and other aquatic vegetation. Nest is usually a few inches above the ground in a clump of woven reeds and grasses to make a cup shape. Also has a dome over it and a ramp leading up to it. 6-8 white eggs with brown dots hatch after 17-20 days and leave the nest within a day. Fledging dates are not well understood.

Nantucket: As well as being hard to spot, they are also a rare visitor to Nantucket. Massachusetts is at the northern edge of their range. Finding one would be a red-letter day. Areas with reedbeds such as around Long Pond and Monomoy Marsh are areas where they have been recorded.

Rufous Hummingbird - Selasphorus rufus & Allan’s Hummingbird - Selasphorus sasin

Description: Two closely related humming birds that have a very similar appearance in their winter plumage.

Nantucket: Rufous Hummingbirds breeds in the Northwest, Oregon to Alaska, and winters in Mexico. Allan’s Hummingbird breeds in California mostly and winters in Southern Mexico. Turns up on Nantucket by accident every few years. They usually arrive in winter, which means that they flew east, instead of south. The last recording on Nantucket was in 2012. 5 recordings since 2000. There are more recordings from Massachusetts. Many have even survived the winter in the state.

Raven - Corvus corax

Description: Larger and heavier than the other two crows. Big difference is size. Also look for a lozenge in the tail in flight. Thick, heavy beak. Appears more glossy than other crows. Has a deep, almost booming “prruk-prruk-prruk” call.

Ecology: Omnivorous, but mostly eats meat. Scavenges for carrion and will also look for insects, beetles, caterpillars, rodents, frogs, eggs and garbage. Nest is on cliff ledge or very tall tree. Large sticks and twigs, lined with moss and animal hair. 4-6 eggs incubated by the female only for 18-21 days. Male feeds female. Both adult bring food to chicks. Fledge at about 35-40 days.

Nantucket: Distributed across the northern hemisphere. Occasionally recorded on Nantucket, usually as a vagrant in winter. Likely will only use the more open habitats and coastal areas on Nantucket to search for carrion.

Northern Parula - Setophaga americana

MA State: Threatened

Description: It has blue-gray upper parts with a greenish back patch and two white wing bars. The breast is yellowish shading into the white belly. The Male has bluish and rufous breast bands and prominent white eye crescents. Females are similar but duller and lack the breast bands.

Ecology: Unusual habitat requirements. Looks for old growth moist conifer forests with mixed heights. Particularly likes moist spruce bogs or hemlock swamps. Builds a pendulum nest in hanging vegetation such as moss, lichen or epiphytes (a plant that grows on another plant but is not parasitic, such as some ferns). Diet is mostly insects. Nest is a pouch in hanging vegetation, with twigs lined with moss, pine needs and hair. 4-5 eggs incubated by the female mostly for 12-14 days. Chicks fed more by male than female. Fledge at 10-11 days.

Nantucket: A common breeding warbler across the northeast. It has large and notable gaps in its distribution due to loss of key habitats. Considered extirpated from Massachusetts. This is what makes it a rare and occasional visitor to Nantucket. It is also one of the few migratory warblers. Usually seen as a passage migrant.

Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata

MA State: Special Concern

Description: Male Blackpoll Warblers have a black crown, dark streaked brown back and a white face. The underparts are white with black streaks. Females are a duller than males and the crown and face are gray. Both have bright orange, pink legs. Non-breeding birds have greenish heads and a yellowish breast.

Ecology: Diet is mostly insects, with some berries. Mostly aphids, beetles, caterpillars, wasps, ants, mosquitoes and spiders. Pokeberry and some seeds are also taken. Nest is places next to the trunk of a young spruce or fir tree. The nest is an open cup, built by the female from bark strips, twigs, grass and moss, lined with feathers and animal hair. 4-5 eggs incubated by the female only for about 12 days. Fed by both parents. Fledge around 11-12 days. 1-2 broods per year.

Nantucket: An occasional passage migrant to Nantucket. This little warbler breeds in northern Canada and migrates in the fall south to northern South America, about 2,500 miles. It also does a continuous migration, meaning that it doesn’t stop, and migrates in an average of 3 days. Spring migration is much slower and is over land, and the most likely season to see them around late May on Nantucket.

Pine Siskin - Spinus pinus

Description: Pine Siskin are brown on the upperparts and pale on the underparts, with heavy streaking throughout. The streaks can be white to yellow. The beak is conical, and tail is forked.

Ecology: Diet is mainly seeds and other vegetation such as grasses, young shoots, buds, flowers etc. will also take insects such as aphids and caterpillars. Nests in northern Canada and Rocky Mountains in pine forests. Nest is a large cup of trigs, bark and grass lined with moss animal hair and feathers. 3-4 eggs are incubated by the female only for about 13 days. Male brings food to the nest when chicks are young. Later fed by both. Chicks fledge at 14-15 days.

Nantucket: Has a sporadic or irruptive winter range. Turns up on Nantucket is various sized flocks from November. Can come to feeders, particularly for sunflower seeds.

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