Birding the Cape

Red-Tailed Hawk in the front garden.

Fall is prime time for birdwatching in Falmouth. Salt marshes such as those in Sippewisset offer great viewing opportunities for birds such as egrets and great blue herons. The Cape is renowned for its open spaces and beautiful beaches and remains a prime destination for vacationers and weekend tourists. In addition the Cape is known for bird watching due to its coastal topography and proximity to the sea. On any given morning it’s not uncommon to find bird people on our beaches or walking through secluded trails with binoculars and spotting scopes scanning for birds. Coastlines are wonderful places for birds to gather. Experts believe that this fall in particular is going to be very interesting, with lots of diversity of species.

This time of year is the tail end of the snowbird migration season with some birds overstaying plus the arrivals of winter birds such as sea ducks and mergansers. Fall is also a great time to watch hawks and other raptors.

During this time one will also see shore birds, especially on mud flats.

Getting into birding is very straightforward. One needs minimal equipment such as binoculars and a field bird identification guide such as Pearson, Audubon or Sibley’s. A visit to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is a good way to learn about birds and identification. If you decide to go out on your own, beaches, open fields and salt marches are good places to observe birds. It is not always critical to identify birds, it is perfectly fine to just go outside and watch the birds.

Our Red-Tailed Hawks on the Cape

Many of our guests have enjoyed watching our neighborhood’s family of red-tailed hawks while visiting The Palmer House.

Red-tailed Hawk on Cape Cod
Red-tailed Hawk at the Palmer House

As you can see from the photos they are very beautiful and are outstanding hunters. The hawk in our photos is young. It is probably less than a year old. We can tell this because its plumage is not that of an adult.

Red-Tailed Hawk in the front garden.
Red-Tailed Hawk in the front garden.

The mature hawks have stocky bodies and broad wings and their tail feathers are rust color. It is wonderful to watch them soar high above our village. When they see their prey they fold their wings and dive quickly. We frequently see them perched on the upper most branches of a tall spruce, watching for the movement of small animals. Bill and I watched one catch a rabbit. However, do not worry, there are many more rabbits in our lovely Thornton Burgess garden beside the Guest House.