August marked the last round of mammal trapping as part of our collaborative research project with Dartmouth PhD student Kaitlin McDonald.
Our latest American Kestrel Monitoring Project is an aspect of fulfilling the VINS’ mission that utilizes our expertise in working with raptors and leverages our network of dedicated followers.
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.
With spring in full swing we have officially wrapped up our winter raptor field season. Both Middlebury and Goodrich have been reliably checking in and sending location data for us to analyze. So far each bird has revealed drastically different movement patterns.
The last few weeks have been excellent for winter bird watching. Since our transmitters are arriving later than expected, we’ve decided to change strategies and set up standardized survey routes. While we’re mostly focusing on raptors, we love all birds and can’t help but stop and watch some of the large flocks of winter birds we’ve been seeing too.
We’re still waiting for all our materials to come in, but that hasn’t stopped us from getting in the field. We went out recently for another round of trapping with our partner from Cornell, Bryce Robinson, to find another abieticola (a subspecies of red-tailed hawks).
Similar to our prior outing, we didn’t catch a bird until late in the day. Just as the sun set over the fields, our research coordinator Jim made one more attempt before we called it a day and this beautiful bird came to the trap.
For the past few weeks, our research team has been searching for red-tailed hawks throughout Addison County in preparation for trapping. While this gave us a good idea of where to look, we quickly learned that it is important to stay flexible, and most of all, patient.
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.
As the northern hemisphere dips into its winter angle, we wave many of our small songbird neighbors bon voyage on their migratory journeys. But there is one tiny passerine that stays here waving with us, and chooses not to migrate away from our frigid temperatures: the black-capped chickadee. Chickadees, in fact, hardly shrink from view as the winter encroaches; instead they are bold, brazen, and positively belligerent.