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Happy ‘Grin

by Lanny McDowell on October 20, 2010

This is prime season for peregrines to move through Martha’s Vineyard.  One guy up at the Gay Head Cliffs at Aquinnah saw eighteen the other day, with four visible at one time.  Right place at the right time.

Sometimes the falcons  exert what seems from my vantage point like a lot of energy acquiring a meal, like chasing down a Sanderling, maneuvering one out over open water and cutting off its climb for height or an escape back to the  flock.  Recently I have been noticing, instead, some almost casual chases.  [click to continue...]


Economy got you down?  Looking for ways to save your hard earned do-re-mi?  Thinking of cutting back or cutting off birdseed altogether?  Let them fend for themselves, right?

But wait! Try the new Sharpienator.  One sharpie used only once or twice a day will solve that bird food drain on your scarce resources.  And it is Absolutely Free! You can’t buy the Sharpienator in any store.  But wait.  There’s more!

So, you get the idea.  When the last snows started to melt the action at my feeders returned quickly to null and void.  I am used to having a coops cruise the place on a regular basis.  This year it’s a handsome and very stealthy adult male.  [click to continue...]

Barn Owl on Martha’s Vineyard

by Lanny McDowell on January 23, 2010


I received a call from someone who had found a barn owl in the snow, with just its head protruding.  It had died, most probably from starvation, and it was found a few feet from a small rural outbuilding which had been fitted with an entrance hole high up in the gable end.  I do not know if there was a nesting box inside, or only the visible entrance hole, clearly provided as an access for winged beasties.

The snow was melting away leaving more of the dead owl exposed.  The caller and I speculated on the raptor’s demise.  I spoke of the recurring threat of snow cover too deep for too long, the condition that denies the owl’s access to rodents and that defines how far north (so far) these birds can survive.  Or, in this case, how far north they cannot survive.

Sadness is balanced by appreciation of the incredible beauty of the remains. [click to continue...]

Coming of age on the Vineyard, hawks in flight, almost

by Lanny McDowell on July 7, 2009


The young Cooper’s Hawks at the nest near Abel’s Hill in Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard are up and out and lounging in adjacent trees.  The last time I was there, on July fifth, the female allowed herself to be seen, keeping a quiet eye on things, then audibly admonishing her brood, or maybe me, from deeper back in the oak forest.  I had never seen her before.  I have never seen the male; and so I have never been aware of more than one adult.  Of course, I could be mistaken, if the two adults are close in size.

In the dappled light of the woods it is pretty hard to make out any of these raptors when they are still, especially if you don’t have advanced knowledge of where to look.  But, boy, are they nice to watch when you do find them.

I do not really expect to find them near the nest,  should I go back.  There is too much to see and do … and to eat.

1st sighting of the adult female after she cruised out of the woods:

1st sighting of the adult female after she cruised out of the woods, alsmost over my head ...

[click to continue...]