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Birding in the 21st Century.

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Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz

A Rusty Blackbird spotted on a GMAS bird walk at the South Hero Marsh last year. / © Bill Boccio

Rusty Blackbird populations have plummeted by over 85% in the past half century and no one knows why. Now a group of international investigators led by Judith Scarl at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies plans to study this problem by collecting data during the Rusty Blackbird’s spring migration. Conservation biologists lack sufficiently detailed information about the Rusty Blackbird’s breeding grounds, wintering habitat, and migration stopovers to make recommendations for action. To fill in the gaps in our knowledge the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group initiated the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz. Learn more…

Counting Vermont’s Crows

Fish Crow / RW Sinclair, https://www.flickr.com/photos/acetonic/

Vermont has two species of crows, and one is very scarce and tricky to identify with certainty. Fish Crows are near their northern limits in Vermont. An extremely small breeding population is well known in the Burlington area. Nesting has been located only four times, the latest in 2012. Well confirmed observations of birds are mostly one or two birds at a time; rarely three or four individuals have been well identified during an observation. The 2012 nesting had two adults and three juveniles, for an unusually high count of five.

Off to the Races

A first year Gambel's White-crowned Sparrow. Distinguished from Leucophrys by the head pattern – particularly the lateral crown stripe and loral patterns. This bird appeared about two weeks after the main passage season for White-crowned Sparrows, which initially alerted the observers to the possibility of Gambelii. Observers: Hector Galbraith, Taj Scottland, David Johnson, Jo Anne Russo.

Just about everyone who enters their bird data on Vermont eBird is no doubt aware that some species can be identified in the field to recognizable races, Red-shafted and Yellow-shafted flickers or Eastern and Western Palm warblers are well-known examples. Although some species can be easily separated into races (but by no means all of them! Some are quite tricky.), many observers do not record their birds down to race when possible. So, most observations of, for example, Palm Warbler are simply recorded as generic ‘palms’.

Finding Vermont Birding Hotspot Near You


Discover the best places for birding nearby or around the world using the Vermont eBird hotspot explorer. You can explore Vermont eBird hotspots in a map-based tool designed to provide quick access to all the information you need. Thanks to suggestions from Vermont eBirders, we have recently added numerous Vermont eBird hotspots for the main ridge and high peaks of the Green Mountains from Mt. Mansfield to Middlebury Gap. Hotspots are public birding locations allowing multiple birders to enter their bird observations into the same shared, eBird “location.” Thus the aggregated results can easily be obtained via the eBird “Explore Hotspot” function and other eBird tools.

Champions Crowned for 4th Annual Vermont County eBird Quest

Vermont eBirders visited thousands of locations in 2014.

From the predawn hoot of a Great Horned Owl on January 1st to a Hoary Redpoll at a feeder during the waning days of 2014, hundreds of Vermont birders scoured fields and fens, mountains and meadows, lakes and lawns to discover as many species as possible during a single calendar year.

The 4th annual Vermont County eBird Quest pitted county versus county, birder against birder — all engaged in a friendly rivalry for top birding honors. The main idea behind the year-long Quest is simply to get people out birding, promote camaraderie, and better document bird life across the state, usingVermont eBird. With over 36,000 eBird checklists submitted and over 2.6 million individual birds tallied in 2014, there is no doubt it was another banner year for birders and Vermont eBird.

The 2015 Christmas Bird Count Roundup

Long-eared Owl from the Plainfield Christmas Bird Count.

As we all know, Christmas Bird Counts aren’t only about finding rare birds. A Black-capped Chickadee would count the same as a Black-capped Petrel. (Well, okay, almost.) But all those birders out during the count period are bound to discover new and unusual birds. So here’s a summary, in no particular order, of what was hot during the 115th Vermont Christmas Bird Count season. Our apologies for not getting results from all the counts just yet.

eBird Tip: How to Upload Your Life List

A birdathon team in action.

Vermont eBird does not have a way to load an initial life list, since the minimum requirement for an eBird record is species + date + location. You can build a life list by entering the species + date + location if you have that information.

Some birders do not have those detailed records, and we understand that you may want to get your life list current before using eBird. To do this, please follow these instructions:

The 115th Christmas Bird Count in Vermont

Pine Siskins in Winter. Photo by K.P. McFarland

The 115th Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14, 2014 through January 5, 2015. This is perhaps the longest running citizen science project in Vermont! Each count occurs in a designated circle, 15 miles in diameter, and is led by an experienced birder, or designated “compiler”. Read more to learn where Vermont CBCs […]

Adding Your CBC Data to Vermont eBird

An Owl Leaves Its Mark. Photo KP McFarland

The Christmas Count is the largest and longest-running ornithological citizen science project. Its data are a great complement to what we are collecting in Vermont eBird, and indeed the CBC has paved the way for Vermont eBird in many respects. It is not a problem to enter data in Vermont eBird and then submit it for the CBC too, since the two projects are collecting data in similar ways, but at different scales. Vermont eBird can be a great way to store your sector-level data and compare it from year to year.

Introducing eBird Targets – Explore the Possibilities

The Year of the Snowy Owl. Photo by K.P. McFarland

We’re pleased to announce the launch of eBird Targets–a new tool that creates a prioritized list of county, state, or life birds that you can expect to find in a region. Enter a region, range of months, and then select the list you’d like to compare. eBird compares your selected list against the full species list […]