• VCE in the News

    AUDUBON: Vermont's Birders and Landowners Are Joining Forces to Contribute to Science

    September 22, 2022

    Birder Broker connects landowners interested in learning more about birds breeding on their property with experienced birders looking for new places to go birding while at the same time contributing their expertise. Over 80% of forested land in Vermont is privately owned making these incredibly important places for nesting birds. Landowners and birders together can help us understand more about breeding bird populations, and how together we might keep them healthy. Read the article »

    VTDIGGER: Committee recommends adding new species to Vermont’s endangered, threatened lists

    October 06, 2021

    The Vermont Endangered Species Committee recommends that the Legislature list the American Bumblebee and two plants as endangered, and the Eastern Meadowlark as threatened. VCE biologist Kevin Tolan provides comments on the proposed meadowlark listing. Read the article »

    BURLINGTON FREE PRESS: At last: a good excuse for Vermonters to stop raking fallen leaves

    October 05, 2021

    This fall, refrain from raking up and bagging every stray leaf. As VCE biologist Jason Hill and ECO AmeriCorps member Abbie Castriotta wrote in a recent blog post, even a modest layer of leaves left on the ground will host a healthier hatch of local insect pollinators in the spring. Read the article »

    VTDIGGER: Vermont loons set record for number of active nests

    September 13, 2021

    “We’ve got six new pairs, and they’re on lakes where they’ve never been before,” said Eric Hanson, a biologist with VCE's Vermont Loon Conservation Project. “They’re doing really, really well.” Read the article »

    VTDIGGER: Bicknell’s thrush: A canary in the coal mine for climate change

    August 23, 2021

    A warming climate may push out some species of trees in Vermont’s highest forests. VCE biologists studying the Bicknell’s thrush worry those changes could chase the bird clear out of the state. Read the article »

    ECORI NEWS: North America’s Largest Butterfly Expands Into R.I.

    July 22, 2021

    The largest butterfly in North America has been expanding its range from the South and Midwest in the past 20 years and is now showing up in Rhode Island in increasing numbers. VCE conservation biologist Kent McFarland provides comments on the Giant Swallowtail's northward movement. Read the article »

    BURLINGTON FREE PRESS: Tigers, cobwebs, Delaware: The ultimate riddle? Or just types of butterflies in Vermont?

    July 07, 2021

    What do admirals, emperors and painted ladies have in common? They're all (sort of) in Vermont. The Vermont Center for Ecostudies keeps a list of 112 butterfly species recorded in the state. Read the article »

    SEVEN DAYS: Vermont's Loon Conservation Gets Lift From Oil Spill Settlement

    July 05, 2021

    A grant of about $450,000 will be used to improve protection for loon nesting sites in Vermont lakes, and new mapping and education tools, said Eric Hanson, a biologist for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies who works on loon management in partnership with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Read the article »

    VTDIGGER: National study adds heat to local bird conservation efforts

    July 04, 2021

    VCE and Audubon Vermont provide comments on and insights into the new US Fish & Wildlife "Birds of Conservation Concern" report. Read the article »

    BENNINGTON BANNER: Bioblitz Project Charts widlife at Merck Forest

    September 13, 2020

    Merck Forest & Farmland Center's weekend BioBlitz brought nature lovers to the forest to chart what lives in and on the 3,200 acre property. Nathaniel Sharp, a data technician at VCE, was MFFC's top species identifier, charting 226 identifications on the property. Read the article »

    VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO: Lost & Found: Four-Spotted Spurleg Lady Beetle

    July 06, 2020

    VPR’s Henry Epp spoke with Spencer Hardy about the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas, and the effort to uncover the truth about 14 lost lady beetle species in Vermont. Read or listen to the story »

    VALLEY NEWS: Speak Now for the Birds

    March 14, 2020

    Recent scientific evidence indicates that the breeding population of birds in North America is nearly 30% smaller than it was 50 years ago—a decline of some 3 billion individuals in all. Until recently, U.S. citizens could trust in the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act to help counterbalance this avian conservation crisis. But now, this landmark piece of legislation is under siege. Read this important letter to the editor »

    WCAX Wildlife Watch: Vermont's loon success story

    April 23, 2019

    Eric Hanson discusses his work to restore Vermont's common loon population with WCAX reporter Erin Brown on the shores of Lake Iriquois. Eric received the Green Mountain Power Zetterstrom Environmental Award for his efforts on April 23, 2019. Watch the interview! »

    SCIENCE NEWS: Green darner dragonflies migrate a bit like monarch butterflies

    January 07, 2019

    A new study by VCE and colleagues describes the full life cycle of a common dragonfly, including an astonishing multi-generational migration of over 600 km (373 miles) on average, with some individuals covering more than 2,500 km (1,553 miles). Read the article »

    VALLEY NEWS: When Too Many Mice Isn't So Nice: Explosion of Rodents Gnaws at Homeowners, Pest Control

    November 03, 2018

    Residents throughout the Upper Valley are reporting an increased number of mice getting into their homes and vehicles. Mouse population numbers are up due to last years' mast crop of fruits and nuts. VCE's Steve Faccio provides insight into mouse ecology (and anatomy) in this informative article. Read the article »

    THE GLOBE AND MAIL: The butterfly effect: How Canadians and their smartphones are helping scientists map species diversity

    October 07, 2018

    In Canada, more than 100,000 amateur butterfly sightings submitted to eButterfly combined with a trove of professional data have produced a richer picture of the natural world. VCE's Kent McFarland, an integral member of the eButterfly team, shares his thoughts in this article. Read the article »

    VALLEY NEWS: Postal Enthusiasts Flock to Vermont

    September 23, 2018

    VCE's Jason Hill spoke at the U. S. Postal Service first day of issue ceremony for the new Birds in Winter Forever® stamps held at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. Read the article »

    VALLEY NEWS: Vermont Leaf Mystery Stumps Officials

    September 03, 2018

    A mysterious form of leaf stem damage on oak trees has tree experts in Vermont scratching their heads. VCE's Kent McFarland offers his expert opinion to help solve the mystery. Read the article »

    WCAX Wildlife Watch: Bicknell's Thrush Research on Mount Mansfield

    June 26, 2018

    VCE's Chris Rimmer and our long-term research on Bicknell's Thrush featured on WCAX Wildlife Watch. Filmed on location atop Mount Mansfield. Watch the video on WCAX. »

    BENNINGTON BANNER: Gregarious Great Blue Herons

    June 22, 2018

    Northern Woodlands "The Outside Story" piece featuring VCE's Kent McFarland. Reprinted in the Bennington Banner on June 22, 2018. Read the article on the Bennington Banner website. »

    NECN: Conservation Biologists: Climate Change Could Claim Songbirds’ Habitat

    June 20, 2018

    VCE's Chris Rimmer and our long-term research on Bicknell's Thrush featured in NECN news story. Filmed on location atop Mount Mansfield. Watch the video on NECN. »

    For Disappearing Bicknell's Thrushes, Statistical Models are Lifesavers

    June 06, 2018

    A new study led by VCE biologist Kent McFarland used statistical modelling methods to identify remaining key habitat for female Bicknell's Thrush in the fragmented forests of the Dominican Republic. Further, this study served as the driving force to conserve additional land to expand the thrush's wintering habitat. Read more at AAAS EurekAlert »

    Bird Mystery Solved!

    May 16, 2018

    Scientists at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE) have discovered an unexpected avian phenomenon: the first known case of a Bicknell’s Thrush x Veery hybrid. Their findings were published this month in the The Wilson Journal of Ornithology by lead author Ellen Martinsen and VCE coauthors Kent McFarland and Chris Rimmer. Read more on ecoNews Vermont »

    Vermont Center for Ecostudies and ECO AmeriCorps Earth Day 2018 Volunteers

    On Earth Day, They Search for Vernal Pools

    April 22, 2018

    VCE conservation biologist Steve Faccio and Eco AmeriCorps member Liza Morse, in partnership with staff from the U.S. Forest Service - Green Mountain & Finger Lakes National Forests led a group of Eco AmeriCorps members out to map vernal pools across Rutland County. Read the article at the Rutland Herald »

    Derby Students Learn About The Common Loon

    April 14, 2018

    Eric Hanson, Loon biologist with The Vermont Center for Ecostudies, visited Derby Elementary School on March 13, presenting a program on the Common Loon to 45 third-grade students, their teachers and members of Four Seasons Garden Club. For over 20 years Eric has done research on the Common Loon, working to conserve this beautiful bird native to so many Vermont ponds and lakes. He has presented educational programs like this to children and adults throughout Vermont. Read the article at the Caledonian Record »

    Partnering with Citizen Scientists to Promote Wildlife Conservation

    March 20, 2018

    Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE) works throughout North and South America to promote wildlife conservation by teaming research scientists with volunteers in the eld. Across two continents and in every type of ecosystem, VCE biologists gather and analyze information about wildlife, from birds to frogs, all to help understand trends and in uence conservation policies. The scale of their work would be minimal without the help of ordinary people in the field—what they call “citizen scientists.” Farmers, landowners, photographers, and backyard wildlife enthusiasts give their time to help collect crucial data for VCE’s important research. Read the article in Here in Hanover magazine »

    Out & About: Vernal Pools Q&A with Liza Morse

    March 19, 2018

    The winter-weary among us can take heart: the recent snowfall will disappear sooner, rather than later. As it melts, it will create the temporary puddles and ponds throughout the woods known as vernal pools. These springtime wetlands are critical to the survival of many species, in part because they provide a breeding habitat protected from fish, which would otherwise be significant predators. Vernal pool monitoring project coordinator Liza Morse, from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, in a recent email Q&A discussed what makes vernal pools so special. Read the story at the Valley News »

    Snowy owls bask in Vermont winter

    March 10, 2018

    It’s getting easier to spot snowy owls in Vermont this winter — and that’s not always a good thing, scientists say. Improved tracking methods show a surge of the Arctic visitors in the Champlain Valley. Owl-lovers, in consequence, have swarmed to view the striking white birds. “Enjoy them, but don’t over-enjoy them,” cautioned Kent McFarland, a conservation biologist at Norwich-based Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Read the story at the Burlington Free Press »

    The Vultures Will Inherit the Earth

    October 26, 2017

    It's rare that Turkey Vultures and Bicknell's Thrush share the spotlight, but Sam Evans-Brown of NH Public Radio provides an intriguing perspective in his recent Outside/In Radio story, "Vultures Inherit the Earth". Sam's piece explores the dichotomous prospects for survival between a rare, declining, specialized species -- Bicknell's Thrush -- and a ubiquitous, thriving generalist -- Turkey Vulture. Projecting a "winner" is all too easy. This lively and informal, but ultimately poignant, story features VCE's 2017 summer interns Kirsti Carr and Nate Launer, our longtime Dominican conservation partner Yolanda Leon, and Chris Rimmer. Read and listen to the story at Slate »

    The Box Elder Bugs Are Back In Force

    October 25, 2017

    VCE biologist Kent McFarland joined Vermont Edition on Vermont Public Radio this week to chat about fall bugs and butterflies and how everyone can contribute their fall insect observations to projects like iNaturalist Vermont, e-Butterfly.org, Journey North, and others. Listen at VPR »

    Study Maps And Estimates Population Of Rare Songbird

    August 22, 2017

    The Bicknell’s Thrush summers on the highest peaks of the Adirondacks and Green Mountains. A new study released by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies has found their population is one of the smallest of any migratory songbird in the U.S. and Canada. Read more here »

    Common Loon in flight

    Loons spreading their wings

    August 09, 2017

    Mary Jo Teetor, a lakeside resident, said she watched one of the birds dive in the middle of the lake late last month and spotted a pair the following day. “I hear them now and then early in the morning, but not consistently,” Teetor wrote in an email. “It is really nice to see them out here.” Eric Hanson, loon biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, said he started getting reports of a pair of loons on Lake St. Catherine last year. “If we start seeing two birds a lot, then we’ll be keeping even a closer eye for future nesting potential in the marsh areas at the north and south ends,” he wrote in an email. “I took a good tour of the pond in May and found nesting habitat to be somewhat limited on the main lake. Little Pond and Lily Pond, which are connected, have better options.” Read the article in the Rutland Herald »

    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 »