Congratulations to iNaturalist user linxlookin for winning the April 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Their photo of a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, a Vermont rarity, received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Every observation posted to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist has the power to broaden our understanding of biodiversity, however only a select few observations have the power to excite and mobilize birders across the state! This was the case when an unmistakeable photo of a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was posted by a curious naturalist exploring a tucked away wetland in Winooski. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are rare in Vermont, tending to prefer more coastal areas, where they feed primarily on crabs and other crustaceans. Looking back at Vermont eBird data shows only 7 previous confirmed records in the state, with no records since 2015. Shortly after this iNaturalist observation was posted, it was shared across regional birding networks and Vermont birders scoured the wetland at first light the next morning with no sightings. Perhaps this Yellow-crowned Night-Heron dropped in to snack on some crayfish before moving along, or perhaps it was hidden from view deep in the wetland while birders searched for it the next morning; either way, thanks to one community scientist, we know when and where this rare bird stopped in Vermont on its travels.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!