August 2019

Vol. 47, No. 4

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for March-April

Neil Hayward


March–April 2014

At least two Pink-footed Geese were present in Western Massachusetts in March and a Barnacle Goose spent 11 days in Mendon. A Ross's Goose was found on Nantucket on April 4. A Tundra Swan spent a week in Sheffield. A White Ibis was spotted flying over Concord on April 4. There were probably five individual Swallow-tailed Kites reported during the period from Cape Cod and Wareham. Ruffs were reported from Newburyport Harbor and Nantucket. A Western Tanager was photographed in Auburn, and two Yellow-headed Blackbirds were in West Bridgewater and at Cumberland Farms.

Best sighting: Zone-tailed Hawk, Chappaquiddick Island, April 25. This was a first record for Massachusetts, and only the third east of the Mississippi River.


March–April 2009

A flock of 17 Greater White-fronted Geese at the Bear Creek Sanctuary in Saugus in March beat the previous state high count of six. An American White Pelican was seen in Westport on April 15. An early Black-necked Stilt was at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on April 25. Nantucket hosted a Black-backed Woodpecker at the end of April. Passerine highlights included: a Townsend's Warbler at Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Brighton from April 14–19, a Golden-crowned Sparrow in South Natick on April 18–19, a Painted Bunting at a feeder in Whately on the last day of April, and a Varied Thrush in Palmer.

Best sighting: an "invasion" of Ross's Geese. Prior to 2009 there had only been three records, all single birds. This year there were seven birds in Ipswich on March 15, eight birds in Easthampton the next day, two in Haverhill on March 19, and a single bird on Plum Island on March 22.


March–April 1999

Record high numbers of American Kestrels were counted migrating past Plum Island with 297 recorded on April 7. A male Ruff was found in Ipswich on the early date of March 31. A total of 343 Common Snipe in two fields in West Bridgewater represented the second-highest count ever recorded in the state. A Lark Sparrow that had been visiting a feeder in Salisbury during the winter remained until April 3. Another feeder bird—a Yellow-headed Blackbird—continued in Nantucket throughout March.

Best sighting: the state's first Pink-footed Goose that was found in Dennis in mid-January continued until April 11.


March–April 1979

Cattle Egrets were reported from Martha's Vineyard and seven locations on Cape Cod at the end of March. A Whimbrel of the white-rumped, European subspecies, phaeopus, was on Nantucket between April 29–30. An adult Mew (Common) Gull was found in a flock of 250+ Ring-billed Gulls in East Bridgewater on April 1. At least six Great Gray Owls lingered into early March, including a bird at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield that stayed until March 28. A Boreal Chickadee was found at Essex on April 25. The Varied Thrush from the previous period remained at a Chelmsford feeder until March 4 and an immature Harris's Sparrow spent five weeks in Peabody.

Best sighting: some 2,000 Red-necked Grebes were packed along the bay shore between Wellfleet and Provincetown on April 4 and set a high-count record for New England and perhaps the entire country.

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