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Birding in the 21st Century.

News and Features

Perception vs Reality: Are Vermont Harriers declining?

Northern Harrier banded at Dead Creek WMA, Vermont.   Photo by K.P. McFarland

“Where are all the Harriers this summer?” So wondered long-time Vermont birder and local trip leader Sue Wetmore of Brandon this past early June. Don’t we all have similar questions during our birding experiences that crop up now and again as each year unfolds? How can we figure out if our perceptions are on the […]

Vermont eBird Update

A birdathon team in action.

A lot of exciting developments have happened recently with eBIrd and the Vermont eBird portal, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, and we wanted to share those with you, as well as express our gratitude and appreciation for all that you Vermont eBirders have helped bring to life. We hope this overview provides a picture of […]

Celebrating Town Forest with eBird Hotspots

Today, there are over 67,000 acres of forestland owned by 168 municipalities, all open to the public to enjoy - find a town forest near you.

In 1915 the state of Vermont passed a law which allowed towns to acquire forest land for public benefit leading to the creation of over 300 town forests across the state. One hundred years later we’re celebrating the centennial of this legislation by recognizing the value town forests have in our communities. Here at Vermont eBird, we would also like to recognize these important properties and would like to encourage birders to visit and report their sightings from them. And to facilitate the sharing of bird data collected there, we would like to promote the creation of eBird Hotspots for them. But since there are such a large number of Town Forests in the state, and not all of them are open to uses such as bird watching, we would like to appeal to local knowledge of the Vermont birding community to help with the creation these hotspots. Read more…

No Bird Sighting Left Behind

Loggerhead Shrike only shows up as an artifact, a former breeding bird, in our historic records.

THOSE WHO FORGET THE PAST are doomed … to forsake priceless data that can help us conserve wildlife. VCE today officially launches an ambitious project to retrieve historic bird sightings, some a century old, now trapped in notebooks, on scraps of paper and in dusty file drawers. With help from a new breed of “citizen archeologists” and novel crowd-source technology, VCE plans to unearth and add these lost bird sightings to our vast, growing digital database so that they can be of use by birdwatchers, scientists, students and conservationists for generations.

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.