As fast as winter began, our winter raptor surveys have finished! We had a great few months looking for birds of prey in Addison County, with lots of snow cover and consistent cold temperatures.
The week started off icy, with an Arctic north wind blowing drifts into the remaining snow cover. The frigid weather was fitting for our “target” species. These birds are in the same family as Red-tails, Red-shoulders and Broad-winged Hawks, however their breeding grounds are restricted to the arctic tundra throughout the world, and they are well-adapted for extreme cold. In North America, they breed in Northern Canada and Alaska, and migrate south into the “lower 48” states for the winter.
Students in the woodworking class at Hanover High School recently completed construction of several American Kestrel boxes, which they then donated to the VINS kestrel monitoring project. Using a completed box as a model, the students were able to draw up plans to build their own boxes using materials that were already available in their…
As we slowly transition into winter, reports of migrant birds are trickling in throughout the state. Snowy Owls have been sighted in Colchester and Waterbury and researchers from Project SNOWstorm predict a “sizeable push” of immature birds this year. Snows experienced a robust breeding season in the eastern and central Canadian Arctic this summer which may lead to more sightings as winter progresses. These young birds sometimes wind up in trouble and end up at the Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation. This season we have already seen a young female who was in distress and emaciated. Unfortunately, the bird did not survive but samples will be sent to Project SNOWstorm in an effort to better help the species as a whole. Blood work will also be collected from any others that end up in rehab and sent to researchers in the project.
This summer was once again full of baby birds! As the leaves begin to change again there are still baby birds in the care of rehab but all of our monitored nests have moved on to bigger and better bird things. Boxes were at capacity this spring and summer with several seeing multiple broods.
August marked the last round of mammal trapping as part of our collaborative research project with Dartmouth PhD student Kaitlin McDonald.
We had a very successful first sampling session at VINS! We sampled at three different sites, two of which are on the VINS campus. When we talk about sampling, we mean that we are observing the local fauna through a couple of different ways.
With the number of tick-borne disease cases increasing in the Northeast, it’s never been more important to understand the ecology of ticks and the diseases that they carry. One way to investigate this is to study the animal communities that serve as hosts to ticks. A better understanding of the animal residents in and around Vermont, their predators, and the number of ticks they have, will provide insights into the local community ecology and may help us to better understand why ticks and their diseases seem to be on the rise. A collaboration between researchers at Dartmouth College and the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences aims to study the impact of local predators on small rodent communities and their tick burdens. This study will use a variety of field ecology methods to study small rodent communities, meso-predators, and ticks.
Addison County Vermont is the place to be for birders. Its mix of unique habitats draw hundreds of birds and bird watchers alike. In the winter it is known for being home to several migratory artic species including Rough-legged Hawks, Snowy Owls, and thousands of Snow Geese.
Game cameras have long been used by researchers in the study of wildlife. These remote cameras allow for an exciting look into how wildlife behaves in the absence of human disturbance. Cameras can be used to detect the presence of different species in an area, monitor animal passage in certain corridors, or estimate how a population of a target species is fairing. They are also used in many different projects throughout the world.