Birding at Quissett Harbor

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According to the recently published book, “Birding Cape Cod,” Falmouth is a great spot to bird throughout the year! The field guide was prepared by two of the foremost birding organizations in the region: the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the Cape Cod Bird Club. The updated 2005 edition provides the following insights on local birding:

"Quissett Harbor has wintering waterfowl, often at close range. Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, and Red-breasted Mergansers frequent the harbor, while Horned Grebes, Common Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks, Common Loons, scoters, and Common Goldeneyes feed in the harbor as well as in Buzzards Bay off the Knob.

From the end of the Knob, check for Common, Roseate, and Least terns during the summer. Gansett Point offers up a regular group of Double-crested Cormorants and other sea ducks. The habitat bordering the small uninhabited tidal island just east of Gansett Point frequently hosts Snowy Egrets along with an occasional Great Egret, resident Ospreys, American Oystercatchers, Great Blue Herons, Black-Crowned Night Herons, Belted Kingfishers, and a variety of gulls and terns."

Birds Seen in Quissett Harbor or from the Knob

An informal list dating from 1995. At this posting, almost all of the sightings were made between July and November and during a brief but variable window in March-April. The spring migration is therefore not yet covered, and additional observations at any time of the year are most welcome. Send to with details of who, when, and where. 

Note: this list is deliberately compiled for an arbitrary and very local geographic area – Quissett Harbor and what has been seen from the walk to The Knob. Seasonal presence is very general for common species and more specific for migrants or species seen infrequently. 

Common Loon winter, also seen in August
Horned Grebe winter 
Red-necked Grebe seen in Apr.
Leach’s Storm Petrel  seen Sept. 17, 1999, 1 day after
Hurricane Floyd, 3 birds feeding in the surf 
Northern Gannet  seen in Nov 
Double-crested Cormorant  anytime
Great Blue Heron summer
Great Egret  summer
Snowy Egret  summer
Green Heron summer
Black-crowned Night Heron summer
Canada Goose anytime
Mallard  anytime
Common Eider  winter
Long-tailed Duck  winter
Black Scoter winter
Surf Scoter winter (as late as June 26)
White-winged Scoter winter (1% summered in the harbor ’04 & ’06)
Common Goldeneye winter
Bufflehead winter, harbor
Red-breasted Merganser winter
Turkey Vulture anytime
Osprey summer
Cooper’s Hawk anytime
Red-tailed Hawk anytime
Merlin seen in March, migrant
Northern Bobwhite  anytime
Least Sandpiper seen in Aug., migrant
Spotted Sandpiper  seen in Aug., migrant 
Whimbrel  seen in Aug., migrant
American Oystercatcher  summer
Laughing Gull winter, seen in Aug.
Bonaparte’s Gull  seen in Nov. 
Ring-billed Gull  winter, late summer
Herring Gull  anytime
Great Black-backed Gull  anytime
Roseate Tern summer, particularly June-July 
Common Tern summer
Forster’s Tern seen in Aug. (2 juveniles day after Hurricane Charles) 
Black Tern seen in July, early migrant
Mourning Dove  anytime
Yellow-billed Cuckoo summer, uncommon (but seen in October)
Black-billed Cuckoo uncommon (seen as October migrant)
Eastern Screech-Owl anytime
Great Horned Owl anytime
Chimney Swift summer
Ruby-throated Hummingbird summer
Belted Kingfisher  anytime
Downy Woodpecker anytime
Hairy Woodpecker anytime
Red-bellied Woodpecker anytime
Northern Flicker  anytime
Eastern Kingbird summer
White-eyed Vireo summer
Red-eyed Vireo summer
Blue Jay anytime
American Crow  anytime
Tree Swallow summer, as migrants
Rough-winged Swallow  summer, as migrants
Black-capped Chickadee  anytime
Brown Creeper anytime
Tufted Titmouse anytime
White-breasted Nuthatch anytime
Red breasted Nuthatch  anytime
Carolina Wren anytime
House Wren summer
Golden-crowned Kinglet   winter 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  migrant, seen late Oct. with Golden-crowned
Hermit Thrush  anytime, seen in March
American Robin anytime
Gray Catbird anytime
Northern Mockingbird anytime
Cedar Waxwing anytime
European Starling anytime
Yellow Warbler summer
Yellow-rumped Warbler summer
American Redstart  summer
Common Yellowthroat  summer
Northern Cardinal anytime
Eastern Towhee  summer
Chipping Sparrow  summer
Song Sparrow  anytime
White-crowned Sparrow  migration (seen in October)
White-throated Sparrow  winter
Dark-eyed Junco  anytime, more common in winter
Baltimore Oriole  summer
Red-winged Blackbird  anytime
Common Grackle  anytime
Brown-headed Cowbird  anytime
House Sparrow  anytime
American Goldfinch  anytime
House Finch anytime

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Quissett Harbor Preservation Trust, Inc.
P.O. Box 391
Falmouth, MA 02541
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