VCE in the News

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Birds' feathers reveal their winter diet

June 21, 2017

Influences outside the breeding season can matter a lot for the population health of migratory birds, but it's tough to track what happens once species scatter across South America for the winter months. A study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications tries a new approach for determining what declining migratory grassland birds called Bobolinks eat after they head south for the winter—analyzing the carbon compounds in their plumage, which are determined by the types of plants the birds consume while growing their feathers during their winter molt. Read more at Phys.org »

Study: Bird population in Vermont forests drop 14.2 percent

April 15, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The bird population in Vermont's forests has declined 14.2 percent over 25 years, largely due to several factors, including invasive species, climate change, and the natural cycle of maturing forests, scientists with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies say. Read the Associated Press article. »

Commentary: Stand Up for Science

February 13, 2017

There exists a long history of selectively questioning scientific findings that run counter to cherished beliefs, economic interests and personal experience. Only in recent times, however, have we Americans seen so many of our political leaders deny entirely the value of science as a tool to facilitate understanding of the world. Read more at VTDIGGER.COM »

What's the Deal with Coydogs?

January 06, 2017

There’s a creature that lives in Vermont that you don’t see very often. But a lot of Vermonters recognize its unmistakable call. It comes across the night in a cacophony of howls, yips and barks. Some attribute the sounds to coydogs, others to coywolves, still others to plain old coyotes. And everyone is right. This month on Brave Little State, VPR’s people-powered journalism podcast: the fascinating canine that goes by all of those names. Listen to the program at VPR »

ADDISON COUNTY INDEPENDENT: Eagles, falcons, loons still on the rise across the state and countywide

December 08, 2016

If you heard a loon’s wild yodel, were lucky enough to spot one of Addison County’s three bald eagle nests or watched a peregrine falcon on the wing this past summer, you shared in the continued resurgence of three of the state’s most charismatic winged species. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons and common loons — once endangered in the Green Mountain State — hatched chicks in record numbers in 2016, according to state wildlife experts. Read the article at the Addison County Independent »

VTDIGGER: Researcher's Work Could Provide Salvation for Bee Species

September 25, 2016

The Vermont Center for Ecostudies collected more than 10,000 Vermont bees in 2012 and 2013 to survey extant species, and researchers involved in the project found not a single bombus affinis. These researchers searched “nearly every town, every county, every eco-region” in Vermont and found “exactly zero” bombus affinis, Richardson said, “which strongly suggests it’s gone from Vermont.” Read the article at VermontDigger »

TESTER: How a small bird is helping to save its grassland habitat

June 30, 2016

We've all heard the expression "a little bird told me," but it's precisely the information a little bird can tell us that has VCE biologists treading through the grassy areas surrounding the NAS Patuxent River airfield. With a grant from the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program, Daniel Kim and his team are looking to recapture many of the 30 grasshopper sparrows that were caught, tagged and banded there last year. "Their numbers are actually an indicator of a safe, well-maintained airfield, and results from this study may help us better manage the species for both conservation and airfield safety," said NAS Conservation Director Kyle Rambo. Read the article at Tester, the NAS newspaper. »

SEVEN DAYS: Off Trail — Helen W. Buckner Nature Preserve

October 28, 2015

VCE's Sara Zahendra guides a reporter to the wilds of an unusual preserve in western Vermont, where falcons fly and rattlesnakes thrive. Sara calls the refuge her "favorite place in Vermont." Read on »

VALLEY NEWS: A Great Migration

September 26, 2015

Catching up with a migration champion — Blackpoll Warbler — in Vermont's Green Mountains. This article captures well VCE's work here in Vermont and father afield. Read on »

STOWE REPORTER: Tracking Bicknell's Thrush on Mt. Mansfield

September 24, 2015

The Stowe reporter joins VCE Executive Director Chris Rimmer and other biologists for the season's final encounters with Bicknell's Thrush and other high-elevation birds on Mt. Mansfield Read more »

SEVEN DAYS: Off Trail – Roy Mountain Wildlife Management Area

August 12, 2015

Mosquitoville Road, which I had to take to reach the Roy Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Vermont's Caledonia County, seems like a bit of cartographical humor. In fact, the road brings travelers within bug-biting distance of the remarkable cedar swamp that was my destination. So maybe the road namers in the area do have a good sense of humor. Taking no chances, I packed heavy artillery: bug repellent with 34 percent DEET. Read more »

WCAX-TV: Vermont Atlas of Life

July 14, 2015

Vermont Channel 3's newsmagazine "Across the Fence" features VCE's Kent McFarland and Chris Rimmer in an informative story and interivew on the Vermont Atlas of Life. Watch it online »

The NEW YORK TIMES: For Blackpoll Warbler, a Lot of Flying for a Lightweight

April 07, 2015

Every autumn, tiny forest songbirds known as blackpoll warblers fly 1,500 miles nonstop from New England and Canada to Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Greater Antilles. The journey, long suspected but only now documented, is one of the longest overwater flights made by a songbird. Read the article »

PBS NEWSHOUR: Tiny Songbird Flies Canada to Puerto Rico Nonstop

April 01, 2015

Every year, from September to November, millions of tiny songbirds gather along the Northeastern coastline, get fat feasting on insects and take to the skies. And then they fly and they fly and they fly. Read more »

NEWSWEEK: Small Songbird Makes One of the Longest Flights for All Birds

April 01, 2015

The blackpoll warbler is a small songbird that weighs 12 grams, the equivalent of two nickels and a dime. But there’s nothing diminutive about this bird’s amazing migration abilities. A new study shows that they are capable of flying more than 1,500 miles nonstop, from the forests of New England and eastern Canada to the Caribbean, en route to its wintering ground in South America. Read more »

BURLINGTON FREE PRESS: A Bumblebee Vanishes

September 29, 2014

Almost every bumblebee you see this year will be dead before the year's end. That's normal. Bumble bees are burly — even brawny. But, with the exception of next year's queens, they are annuals. They end their lives with winter. What's not normal: The last living rusty-patch bumblebee — one of Vermont's more common species, once upon a time — was spotted in the Burlington Intervale on Aug. 31, 1999. To the untrained eye, the absence of Bombus affinis might pass unnoticed. Now, 15 years after its disappearance, this bumblebee is a strong candidate to be listed as an endangered species in Vermont. Read more »

VTDIGGER: Vermont Scientist Contributes to Butterfly Tracking Site

May 20, 2014

The net to catch butterfly data just got bigger. Biologists from Canada and the U.S. on Monday launched an online butterfly tracking tool, e-Butterfly.org. The website aggregates crowd-sourced information gathered across North America into its free website. Read more »

WASHINGTON TIMES: Bird Banded in Dominican Republic Found in Vermont

June 28, 2014

Though its natural habitat is shrinking in the Caribbean, a brownish-gray songbird twice discovered on top of Vermont’s highest mountain is giving scientists hope. Just weeks ago, researchers identified a Bicknell’s Thrush on Mount Mansfield that had been banded in the Dominican Republic while wintering there in 2010. It was the second time since 2010 that the bird had been captured on the mountaintop as part of research. Read more »

VALLEY NEWS: Friends of Frogs, Savers of Salamanders

May 11, 2014

Whether they’re carrying toads across busy streets or tracking down vernal pools, for those trying to protect amphibians and their habitat, timing is key. “Big nights,” when the animals migrate en masse, are difficult to predict. But on a rainy spring evening warm enough to melt snowpack, it’s a good bet salamanders, frogs and toads will be making their way to breeding pools. Read more »

VTDIGGER: A Crowd-Sourced Atlas of Vermont's Living Things

January 02, 2013

Dog vomit slime molds, fish crows, bulblet bladderferns, and shining fungus beetles — these are a few of Vermont’s lesser-known residents. Where are they and their more common relatives found? Are Vermont’s wild creatures moving northward as Vermont’s climate changes? Where are the most important wild places in Vermont to conserve? The Atlas of Vermont Life aims to help researchers answer these questions. Read more »

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Fund Supports Work on Rare Bird

November 02, 2012

An alliance of North American scientists is supporting work in the Dominican Republic to preserve winter habitat of the rare Bicknell's thrush, which breeds on mountaintops in New York, New England and Canada. "This project is a new effort to get conservation done in the wintering ground, which we are convinced is the main limiting factor for Bicknell's thrush," said Chris Rimmer, executive director of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Read the article »

FOX NEWS LATINO: The Dominican Republic Fights to Save its Forests

May 29, 2012

The Dominican Republic is known for lush, tropical beaches, its food and its rich culture. And for conservation? Not so much. But now, buoyed by an elusive songbird that makes its way to the Caribbean country each year, the Dominican Republic is embarking on an ambitious conservation effort to preserve what many say is a global biodiversity hotspot that is home to dozens of endangered species. Read more »

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Did Your Shopping List Kill a Songbird?

March 30, 2008

The imported fruits and vegetables found in our shopping carts in winter and early spring are grown with types and amounts of pesticides that would often be illegal in the United States. In this case, the victims are North American songbirds. Read more »

WASHINGTON POST: Researchers Work to Save Rare Songbird

September 16, 2006

As dusk shrouded the summit of Whiteface Mountain, Juan Klavins aimed his headlamp at the bird in his left hand, its head between his fingers and its wing extended to expose a crimson vein. The 26-year-old Argentine researcher deftly pierced transparent skin with a hypodermic needle and filled two fine glass tubes with blood to be tested for mercury. ... Read the article »