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.
Field Guide to October 2021
October is a month of change. The forested hills fade from green to a kaleidoscope of red and gold that dazzles the eyes. Here’s your field guide to some moments that you might not otherwise notice during these few precious weeks that feature colored hills beneath a deep blue sky, with the calls of migrating geese high overhead and the last Monarchs gliding silently southward.
Kinglets Rain on Mansfield Ridgeline as VCE Wraps Season #30
Tiny feathered gems–Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets–filled VCE’s mist nets and ushered in the autumnal equinox on Mt. Mansfield to conclude our 30th field season on the ridgeline. Among 222 birds captured and banded over 3 days, kinglets accounted for 101, but they weren’t the only notable migrants we encountered.
Birds, Bees, and Trees: A Summer Working for VCE
From long days spent in wooded hillsides to early mornings on top of Mt. Mansfield, it was a busy—but exciting—summer for VCE’s 2021 Alexander Dickey Conservation Intern.
A Record Year for Loon Nesting in Vermont
This year proved a highly successful one for Vermont’s breeding loons—a record, in fact! However, every loon breeding season is more than just numbers. It’s also about the stories of difficult moments and the experiences of our hardworking volunteers who make everything we accomplish possible.
Field Guide to September 2021
September is a month of transition—birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and more are beginning their southward migration while some bees and other species are emerging for the first time all summer. To the curious eye this month offers a lot of excitement and the happenings featured in this field guide are just the tip of the iceberg!
August 2021 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to iNaturalist user @myco_mama_vt for winning the August 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life…
Non-locals Light Up VCE Nets on Mansfield
VCE’s final summer banding session on Mt. Mansfield featured a striking–and puzzling–absence of locally-breeding birds but a strong showing by non-local warblers and our first-ever Northern Flicker.
Field Guide to August 2021
The dog days of August are here. Insects are buzzing and summer’s bounty is plentiful. But migration is underway alerting us to the coming changes. Read all about them in this Field Guide to August.
July 2021 Photo-observation of the Month
Congratulations to Michael Sargent for winning the July 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on…
Mount Mansfield Week 9 – Quality Over Quantity
With Chris Rimmer on vacation celebrating the marriage of his daughter, the VCE banding team carried on in his absence,…
(At Least It’s Not) All Quiet on the Western Front: Eluded by Whip-poor-wills in Windham County
Despite numerous survey locations and some new robotic helpers, this year’s Windham County whip-poor-will survey team had a quiet season. However, historic hotspots in other regions of Vermont reported their usual noisy numbers of this nocturnal species.
A Deluge of Juncos and a Surprise Boreal Visitor on Mansfield
Week 7 of VCE’s 2021 banding season on Mt. Mansfield featured a plethora of juvenile juncos and an unexpected, dapper male Bay-breasted Warbler.
Seasonal Changes Emerging on Mt. Mansfield
Free-flying juveniles. Molting adults. Regressing brood patches. Subdued, sporadic song. Seasonal changes that signal summer’s inevitable transition were in evidence during VCE’s Week 6 banding session on Mt. Mansfield.
June 2021 Photo-observations of the Month
Congratulations to Tom Norton and Sarina for winning the June 2021 Photo-observations of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of…
July Updates from the Loon Conservation Team
July is here and Vermont’s lakes and ponds are bustling with loon-related activity, keeping VCE biologists and volunteers quite busy. This month’s loon update shares news of new nesting pairs and opportunities for getting involved.