What’s Cookin’ at VINS? Rachael Ray!

Food Network star Rachael Ray made a stop at VINS July 22. While Ray wasn’t at our Quechee location to cook up a meal, she got things cookin’ with the release of five yellow-bellied sapsuckers who were patients in the VINS Wildlife Services rehabilitation department.

The sapsucker release was part of a tour Ray and husband John Cusimano took of VINS, which will be a featured segment on the cook’s travel show, Rachael’s Vacations.

The five young sapsuckers originally came to VINS June 23, when a man noticed he accidentally destroyed their nest after cutting down a tree in the yard. Sapsuckers are cavity-nesters, and can sometimes be found nesting in holes in trees. The parents flew off and did not return once the tree fell, so the staff of VINS Wildlife Services took over as sapsucker parents — feeding the birds and keeping them warm as their parents would have. Sapsuckers like to eat — you guessed it, sap — from trees. While we don’t have ample access to sap, a mixture of good ol’ Vermont maple syrup and water does the trick. The sapsuckers also received plenty of peanut butter mixed with mealworms, stuffed into logs. That’s an ideal treat for these woodpeckers to peck at, as they would drill into trees in the wild for sap and insects.

Ray and her husband each had the opportunity to release one of the sapsuckers. Cusimano held one of the sapsuckers before releasing it, while Ray opted to open the box containing the birds to release another sapsucker.

VINS rehabilitates and releases back into the wild hundreds of birds each year. Please join Rachael Ray as a friend of VINS by making a donation today and support this important work.

Rachael’s Vacations will air the segment on VINS Nature Center in early 2010. In the photo above, from left to right, John Cusimano, Rachael Ray, and VINS staff Sara Eisenhauer and Chris Collier.


  1. Anonymous on July 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    What a great story! It's wonderful that a busy celebrity like Rachael Ray takes such an interest in the great work you're doing at VINS. Thanks for all you do. I'll send you a contribution shortly.

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