October 2020

Vol. 48, No. 5

Bygone Birds: Historical Highlights for May-June

Neil Hayward


May–June 2015

At least two Pacific Loons were present in Provincetown with another at Manomet. A Brown Booby was spotted on consecutive days in mid-May by a whale watch boat out of Gloucester. Mississippi Kites were seen in Falmouth and Westboro as well as over their usual migration haunts. Provincetown hosted an adult Sabine’s Gull on May 5 and 9 and an immature on May 15. Single Gull-billed Terns were reported from Chilmark and Plum Island. A Chuck-will’s-widow returned to the Falmouth area for the third straight year, with another calling for several days in Plymouth. A Golden-winged Warbler was photographed at Martin Burns in Newbury on May 15.

Best sighting: two Crested Caracaras, Wellfleet Bay, May 8. This follows the April 5 sighting of a single bird from Chatham, which was accepted as the third record for the state.


May–June 2010

Single Purple Gallinules were reported from Lanesville and Eastham. Shorebird highlights included a Wilson’s Plover in Chatham on June 11, a Black-necked Stilt at Allens Pond for two weeks in mid-June, and a Red-necked Stint on South Beach at the end of June. A Gull-billed Tern was on Nantucket on June 10, and Sandwich Terns were reported from Plum Island and Nantucket. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were at Barre Falls and Yarmouth. A Cave Swallow on Nantucket on May 12 was the first spring record for the state, followed quickly by the second record in Hyannis on May 15. Crane WMA in Falmouth hosted two singing Clay-colored Sparrows, two Dickcissels, and four Blue Grosbeaks.

Best sighting: two Black Rails were calling on Plum Island on May 31 and were heard regularly through the third week of June. This is the longest visit by this species since a purported breeding record in 1884–1885 in Chatham.


May–June 2000

Breeding-plumaged Pacific Loons were seen off Plum Island and Wellfleet in May. A Greater White-fronted Goose continued in Concord until May 2. Swallow-tailed Kites were observed in Cambridge and Harvard. Rare shorebirds included a Wilson's Plover on Martha's Vineyard, a Black-necked Stilt in Marion, a Red-necked Stint on North Monomoy, and single Ruffs in Rowley and Plum Island. Martha's Vineyard recorded two new breeding species: Acadian Flycatcher and Tufted Titmouse. A Chuck-will’s-widow returned to the Marconi Site in Wellfleet for the fourth year. Songbird highlights included a male Lark Bunting continuing from April in Truro, an adult Harris's Sparrow in Amherst, and a Black-headed Grosbeak from Quabbin Park.

Best sighting: Yellow-nosed Albatross off Penikese Island, May 6. This is most likely the same bird that was reported a month later from Nantucket and from several other places in Rhode Island and around Long Island Sound. It represented the third record for the state.


May–June 1980

A breeding plumaged Eared Grebe was at Wachusett Reservoir, May 19-24. June was a remarkable month for stints: the state recorded its first Little Stint on Monomoy on June 19 and its first Red-necked Stint five days later at the same location. (The state’s second Red-necked Stint would be found the following month at Scituate.) A Wilson’s Phalarope nest with eggs was discovered on Monomoy, the second documented East Coast breeding record after the previous year’s record from Plum Island. At Revere, an adult Common Gull was found on May 9, and an adult Sabine's Gull was at Monomoy in May. An Ash-throated Flycatcher was in Rowley, May 18-24. A Western Wood-Pewee, seen and heard singing at Morris Island, Chatham, on May 23, was the fourth state record. A Northern Wheatear was at Newbury on June 6. The week of May 11–18, 1980, was considered by many to be the best spring migration in many, many years; Mount Auburn Cemetery recorded 24 species on May 13. Despite that, Golden-winged Warblers were “hard to find with just ten reported.” Painted Buntings were in Hull and on Nantucket.

Best sighting: Burrowing Owl on Plymouth Beach, May 13. This was the first record since a bird collected in Newburyport on May 15, 1875. Presumably the same bird was later reported from Monomoy and then Martha’s Vineyard.

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