This fall marked the first season of an official hawk watch site on the top of Mt. Ascutney. Prior to that Vermont had three official sites throughout the state. With the help of VINS staff and volunteers we were able to staff the site for a total of about 46 hours. A total of 108 birds were observed in that period.
And just like that summer is almost over. While we are still running several research projects through the fall and winter, the end of warmer temperatures means an end to nesting birds. Even in the rehab department, they are almost through baby bird season with only a few straggling fledgling chimney swifts in care. This brief period of down time allows us to look back at the results from nesting season here on our campus.
Each week starts off with walking the trails and checking on the camera traps around campus. There are currently four game cameras at VINS positioned strategically along wildlife trails in the hopes of inventorying the diverse species on the property. They are off the main hiking trails in areas of quality animal habitat. There are also two cameras at Old Pepper Place that are checked monthly. So far the cameras have revealed several interesting species including some that are not routinely seen on campus. So far the highlights have included, three deer fawns, bobcat, fisher, bear, coyotes, gray foxes, mink, raccoons, skunk, and a flying squirrel.
As monarchs slowly return to Vermont, reports of observations are starting to come in throughout the state. With sightings all around it was only a matter of time before they returned to our campus meadow.
Old Pepper Place is a unique homestead located in Chelsea Vermont near the end of a class four road. Its remote location makes it a great place for VINS camp in the summer and more importantly a perfect home for wildlife. With that in mind I ventured out on a citizen science mission. My goal was to start an index of wildlife and document as many species as I could. Armed with binoculars, a couple of wildlife cameras, and iNaturalist on my phone I set off.
As we spring into a new season, most people are not sorry to seeing the slush and ice give way to new things – wildflowers, warm weather, and most of all, singing birds. But it is also time to say farewell, for another year at least, to one of my favorite citizen science projects: Project FeederWatch.
It has certainly been a busy year! Many may remember that our intake total was a record-breaking 652 patients in 2018. But move over, 2018 – the VINS Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation received 705 total patients in 2019.
Bird feeding is a popular and enjoyable winter pastime for many people, bringing birds in close for easy viewing. While it is widely practiced and can even help biologists monitor populations through programs such as Project FeederWatch, there are some potential negative side effects of feeding birds.
You may have noticed that this year was a big year for monarchs. At VINS, we were right in the middle of what is being called a “banner year” for these butterflies. Now that fall is in full swing, many of them are on their way south for the winter.