More than 300 species of birds inhabit and frequent the Island including the European cuckoo, Blackburnian warbler, Magnolia warbler, Baybreasted warbler, Canada warbler and the Black-throated blue warbler. The first North American and Western hemisphere record of the Red-footed Falcon was recorded on Martha’s Vineyard in August of 2004, drawing birding enthusiasts from around the world.
Miles of hiking trails are also varied and plentiful on the Island. The organizations below offer a plethora of properties for hiking or spotting a rare species.
Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank
This organization purchases open land with revenues collected from real estate transactions. Walking and recreational opportunities are widely varied on these properties, which otherwise would likely not be accessible for public enjoyment. A trail map of all the Land Bank properties is available at the Land Bank office and at the Chamber of Commerce.
Felix Neck Sanctuary
Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, a Massachusetts Audubon Society sanctuary, is located off the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road at the sign, one mile down a dirt road. There is a small admission fee, but members of the Massachusetts Audubon Society are admitted free and it is open early morning until 7 pm. In the summer, enjoy such sights as nesting pairs of ospreys and a tree swallow colony. From the observation building, look for wood ducks and other waterfowl in the pond during the fall and winter. In the spring, barn owls may also be seen nesting in the barn loft. Felix Neck offers a number of short, self-guided trails through part of its extensive Edgartown acreage. Described by former director Gus Ben David as "delightful family walking trails," the paths go through meadows, woods, along marshlands, and ponds, with fine views of resident bird life. Most trails are wheelchair accessible. No dogs, please.
Nature Watch LLC
Take a personalized guided birding tour. Learn their identification, behavior, ecology, and where to find them! You will explore the birding hotspots of Martha’s Vineyard, venture into woodlands and fields for migrating songbirds, beaches for shorebirds, and ponds for waterfowl. Public programs offered every Saturday from 9:00 - 11:30am, rain or shine, from May to November. Each tour is customized to the participants’ interests. Tour leader Robert Culbert, of Nature Watch, LLC also offers year round, private, individual and group tours. Call or email for information.
Polly Hill Arboretum
The Polly Hill Arboretum is a 70-acre property containing the results of Polly Hill’s fifty years of study to develop the best plants and trees to grow on the Vineyard. More than 2,000 individual taxa, including azaleas, camellias, clematis, crabapples, dogwoods, hollies, magnolias, pines, rhododendrons, and stewartia on display, most grown from seed. No dogs, please. Tours available daily.
Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation
Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation protects more than 2,000 acres of Vineyard land, open for public walking. Leashed dogs are allowed. For a complete list of Sheriff’s Meadow properties and trails maps, visit their website.
The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees of Reservations is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the nation. Since 1891, The Trustees has preserved, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value. On the Vineyard, The Trustees own five properties and offer a variety of natural history tours and programs, including canoe or kayak expeditions, trips to the Cape Poge Lighthouse and barrier beaches by over-sand vehicle, walking tours, as well as kids programs.
Vineyard Conservation Society
Founded in 1965, the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) works with landowners, colleague organizations, and public officials to conserve land, monitor growth and development, promote environmental awareness, encourage public participation, and advocate on behalf of the natural resources of the Island. The society also sponsors a wide range of public activities, including the popular guided Winter Walks program, summer lectures at the Wakeman Center, educational seminars and workshops on a range of environmental topics, and the annual Earth Day All-Island Beach Clean-Up.
Vineyard Open Land Foundation
The Vineyard Open Land Foundation (VOLF), founded in 1970, preserves the rural character of the Vineyard through conservation land use planning. The foundation maintains a public walking trail at Cranberry Acres adjacent to the Mary Wakeman Center on Lambert’s Cove Road. The trail winds through a meadow and woods around the reservoir ponds, which serve the cranberry bog.