A Birding Quest and Tribute Unlike Any Other: Fred Pratt’s Big Year
Fred Pratt’s delightful and deeply personal new book, “My Big Year—A Search for Birds and Peace of Mind”, recounts the final year of his impassioned quest to become the first birder to document 150 species in all of Vermont’s 14 counties, each within a single calendar year. Fred’s tale movingly weaves together his many memorable (and often humorous) encounters with birds, his attempt to find closure and solace in the wake of losing his beloved wife Chris in 2017, and a deeply abiding love for his life (and birding) partner.
Field Guide to May 2022
Trees are leafing out, and newly arrived migrant birds are dripping from branches. Insects are emerging and pollinating blossoming flowers. Discover all the sights May has to offer with our Field Guide.
VCE Selected as 2022 First: Earth Summer Series Recipient
Do you love nature and the performing arts? If your answer is “heck yes,” it’s time to start marking your calendar for First: Earth’s summer performance series. Each year, First: Earth chooses an environmental nonprofit to receive proceeds from ticket sales, and VCE is honored to have been selected.
April 2022 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Craig Hunt for winning the April 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photo of a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers attempting to remove a European Starling from their nest cavity received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Field Guide to April 2022
April brings a burst of life to the rugged Vermont landscape. From bees to crayfish, life is on the move. Here’s our guide to some of the joys of April.
March 2022 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Chelsea Carroll for winning the March 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Her photo of almost a dozen Eastern Bluebirds perched shoulder-to-shoulder on a chilly March day received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Field Guide to March 2022
With the weather warming and the ground thawing, spring is in the air, and Vermont is waking up! Kick-off your month with flowing sap, thawing frogs, and heated flowers. You can read all about it in this month’s Field Guide.
Meet Vermont’s Newest Endangered Species
The latest Vermont Endangered and Threatened species list celebrated the recovery of Bald Eagles and the Canada Black Snakeroot, while five new species and three critical habitats were added. Learn about the newest members of the list that will need our help for their recovery.
February 2022 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to vtmonarch for winning the February 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Their…
Field Guide to February 2022
This month, wildlife and the rest of us here in New England will cross a threshold that’s arbitrary yet not insignificant: 10 hours of daylight. There’s no doubt that we’ve got a lot more winter ahead, but change is coming. So here are a few February natural history tidbits to help get your hopes up, no matter what that groundhog predicted.
January 2022 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Craig Hunt for winning the January 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Craig’s photo of a sharp-eyed Sharp-shinned Hawk received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
New Milkweed Specialist Insects Guide
A field guide to help identify New England’s milkweed specialist insects at all life stages.
Vermont Birders Rally During 11th Annual eBird County Quest
From the frigid mornings of the final Christmas Bird Counts of the 2020-2021 season to the discovery of Razorbills and Northern Gannets which briefly turned Lake Champlain into an Atlantic Ocean look-alike this past November, 2021 was a year full of birding surprises and, unsurprisingly, full of friendly competition during the 11th annual Vermont eBird County Quest.
December 2021 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Charlotte Bill for winning the December 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Charlotte’s photo of a Great Blue Heron braving the cold of a northern Vermont winter received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Field Guide to January 2022
Although the days are slowly growing longer, life in the Northeast now finds itself in the coldest depths of winter. January is about survival. Wildlife that doesn’t migrate adapts instead in order to make it to spring. Here are a few tidbits of natural history happening outdoors this month around you.
A Community-minded Ornithologist and Birder: George Clark Receives VCE’s 2021 Julie Nicholson Community Science Award
George Clark’s innumerable contributions as a community scientist—from his heroic efforts during the second Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas to his countless eBird checklists—have substantially expanded our collective knowledge of Vermont’s bird populations. For this, the staff and board of VCE are proud to present George with the 2021 Julie Nicholson Community Science Award.
November 2021 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Connor Quinn for winning the November 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Connor’s photo taken through a microscope of a minuscule fungal spore received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Gifts for the Conservation-minded People in Your Life
Black Friday might have come and gone, but chances are a few people remain on your gift list. Don’t worry—we’ve got some ideas for all your conservation-minded loved ones. From wildlife enthusiasts to art lovers to appreciators of delicious coffee, there’s a little something for everyone on this list, and all with a conservation twist!
Field Guide to December 2021
An icy chill is in the air and tree limbs are coated in a delicate, snowy blanket—winter will soon be here. Across the landscape, animals who do not spend the winter tucked away scurry and flap, leaving evidence of their small dramas in the powder. Whether you choose to explore frozen hillsides or remain closer to home, there’s much to discover in December.
Vireos Steal Late Fall Birding Spotlight in Windsor County
Vireos are rarely considered as show-stealers among fall migrant songbirds, but a trio of unexpected members of this family during late autumn 2021 kept Windsor County birders on their toes.
One Lucky Loon
By early October, loon biologist Eric Hanson has usually left the lakes for wintery slopes and ski trail maintenance. However, this year, he received news of a tangled and injured loon that needed a swift rescue. Thankfully, through the hard work of avian rehabilitation specialists in Vermont and beyond, this loon made a spectacular recovery.
Highlights from the 40th Vermont Bird Records Committee Report
The Vermont Bird Records Committee (VBRC) held its 40th annual meeting in November 2020. Each year, this panel of experienced birders meets to discuss rare bird reports, out-of-season reports, and rare nesting reports submitted by birders from across the state.
A Tiny, Displaced Vireo Makes a First-ever Vermont Appearance
Vermont’s first-ever Bell’s Vireo made an unexpected appearance in Woodstock during mid-October, initially fooling a couple of experienced birders, then remaining for 9 days to delight 30 or more enthusiasts, many of whom were thrilled to count it as a “lifer”.
October 2021 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Craig Hunt for winning the October 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photo of a Hairy Woodpecker with a bill deformity appearing to ponder its reflection in a pane of glass received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Birder Broker 2021 Update
After a COVID-canceled field season in the summer of 2020, Birder Broker volunteers were eager to get together for their three bird monitoring walks this past June and July. With 100 species documented—including 50+ confirmed or probable breeders—the season was ripe with exciting encounters.
Field Guide to November 2021
As the days shorten and the temperature drops, wildlife scrambles to use the final available fall food sources before winter sets in. From hibernacula to gut microbiota, a chilly change is in the air. Read all about it in this month’s field guide.
Nighthawks Light up Late Summer Evening Skies: an October Reminiscence
The annual southward passage of Common Nighthawks is a spectacle not be missed. Despite the species’ declining numbers across North America, impressive late summer concentrations still occur—Westminster Station on the Connecticut River is far and away Vermont’s most noteworthy site. The 2021 flight proved to be the best on record.
A New Tool for Exploring Vermont Birding Hotspots
A few years ago on a long family drive, I remember stopping at a small rest area off an Ohio highway and submitting a quick eBird checklist of the House Sparrows and European Starlings around the parking lot and the Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures soaring above the Interstate.
Leaf it Be — ditch the rake this fall to promote insect populations around your home
This autumn, consider opting for less intensive yard maintenance practices to foster more biodiversity in your yard this season and beyond. By planting native late-blooming plants, leaving leaves where they fall, and preserving standing rigid vegetation, you will be providing winter homes and food sources for invertebrates, birds, and other winter residents.
September 2021 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to iNaturalist user Coleen Lawlor for winning the September 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Her photos of a handsome and uncommon Upland Sandpiper roaming the grassy plains of the William H. Morse State Airport in Bennington received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.