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On the Wing

On the Wing: The Lonesome Whip-Poor-Will

The scientific name of the whip-poor-will, Antrostomus vociferus, is spot-on. According to “Birds of America,” edited by T. Gilbert Pearson, “the first word . . . means ‘cave mouth’ and the second . . . ‘strong voice.’ ”

Jun 30, 2022
On the Wing: The Endlessly Interesting Purple Martin

As long ago as 1936, when T. Gilbert Pearson published “Birds of America,” purple martins were almost exclusively dependent on man-made housing. Here on the East End, they arrive in early April to the houses waiting for them and by Labor Day they're gone.

Jun 15, 2022
On the Wing: The Best-Looking Songbird You've Never Seen

Scarlet tanagers breed in forest interiors. Take a walk on the Sprig Tree Trail in Sag Harbor, or along the Round Pond Trail where they sing and breed. You'll also find them at the Grace Estate, Hither Woods, and Barcelona Neck. The trick is to find a large expansive stretch of woods and listen.

Jun 1, 2022
On the Wing: The East End's Most Controversial Bird

When beaches are closed because of nesting plovers, people get pretty riled up. The birds, which are endangered in the country and New York State, may seem to be prolific here, but in fact nest on only a handful of beaches on the East End. They're also site-specific, returning year after year to breed in the same spots.

May 26, 2022
On the Wing: The Catbird’s Fine Company

Catbirds are neither rare nor shy. Work in your garden and you may soon have a catbird working alongside you. They're charming, excellent company, and release a seemingly infinite number of sounds when they open their black bills.

May 19, 2022
On the Wing: A Tempest of Towhees in a Teapot

The eastern towhee breeds in Montauk, and if you go to Oyster Pond this weekend you can hear them calling and singing everywhere.

May 11, 2022
On the Wing: Millions of Birds on the Move

Over the next two weeks, spring bird migration will peak. Hundreds of millions of birds will fly up the country, largely south to north, in sync with blooming trees, flowers, and insect hatches. Many are attempting to reach the green attic of North America, the boreal forest of Canada, where they will breed and raise their young before reversing course in the autumn.

May 5, 2022
On the Wing: Kind of Gross but Amazing Nonetheless

Pigeons are extremely sensitive to low frequency sounds; they can see into the ultraviolet range of light, and they are able to detect minute changes in air pressure. They don’t keep the tidiest of homes, allowing feces, and even dead nestlings, to remain in the nest, and since they reuse their nests, they get bigger and nastier as time goes on.

Mar 3, 2022
On the Wing: The One That Got Away

The first and most important thing to know about the purple sandpiper is that it’s not purple. It’s not even close. For the beginner, the best way to see this bird — the only sandpiper we tend to see here in winter months — is to know where it hangs out, because it absolutely doesn’t stand out.

Jan 27, 2022
On the Wing: The Woods Are Its ‘Web’

The screech owl is about the size of a brick, with big eyes, and ear tufts, but this adorable little owl is an efficient killer. Its howl represents pure death to a variety of critters. Nothing is safe, even other screech owls. It even takes bats on the wing.

Jan 20, 2022