Bird Observer - The New England Birding Journal

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

June 2016

Vol. 44, No. 3


John J. Galluzzo and Christopher E. Degni

Great Point Lighthouse. Photography courtesy U.S. Lighthouse Society Archive -

We know for sure that the wind was blowing hard on Nantucket the night the ducks struck the lighthouse. We know—or believe, based on the evidence presented— the duck species. And we know they caused quite a bit of damage. Only one thing is in question: why did the assistant keeper’s story change from newspaper to newspaper?

Nantucket’s Great Point Lighthouse, which stood at the extreme northeastern tip of the island and helped guide mariners between Monomoy, at the southern tip of the elbow of Cape Cod, and Nantucket Island, looked in 1902 much like the tower that stands there today. But it’s not the same tower. The first Great Point Light, built in 1785 of wood, burned down in 1816. The second tower, built of stone in 1818, stood until a terrific storm turned it into a pile of rubble in the spring of 1984. The third tower, standing today, replicates the second tower. The harrowing event in question took place at the second Great Point Lighthouse.

To view the rest of the article you'll need to subscribe. Bird Observer publishes original articles on birding locations, on avian populations and natural history, on regional rarities, and field notes, Massachusetts field records, photographs, and art work.