What You Can Do
National Audubon
Blog Archive

change in date for March bat program

Please note that the date for the program Bats in the Balance has changed from March 16 to March 30. The time and place (7 PM, Rutland Free Library) remain the same.


calling all backyard birders!

Join birdwatchers across the U.S. and Canada for the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 12 – 15. Your participation, besides being a lot of fun, will help scientists learn more about our backyard birds.White-breasted Nuthatch Last year 620 species were submitted on 94,165 checklists with an astounding 11,558,638 individual birds counted across the country.

Click on the Blue Jay below for information on how to participate (it’s easy!), photos from past counts, and tips on identifying those tricky little brown birds.

Want to venture further afield? Join RCAS for its monthly monitoring walk around West Rutland Marsh on Saturday, February 13. Meet at the West Rutland Price Chopper parking lot at 8 AM.

So fill your feeders, grab your binoculars, and get ready to count!



Please join Eric Hanson, the Vermont Loon Recovery Project Biologist, in exploring the natural history of the Common Loon at the Rutland Free Library at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 22.

Loons were in trouble in Vermont 25 years ago with fewer than 10 nesting pairs statewide.Common Loon at Spring Lake Conservation and volunteer efforts have brought the loon numbers back to over 60 pairs in Vermont today, including 11 nesting pairs in the southern half of Vermont. Eric will discuss the threats facing loons and much about their fascinating behaviors and amazing natural history. The Vermont Loon Recovery Project is a program of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.    

As the loon population expands, volunteer and lakeshore owner assistance has become even more critical, especially in educating fellow lake users about “their” loons and what they need to be successful. Eric will also discuss the role of loons as an indicator of water quality, especially with reference to mercury contamination.


trip report - winter regulars and rarities in the Champlain Valley

RCAS had a spectacular day for the annual Winter Regulars and Rarities in the Champlain Valley trip on January 16. Nineteen participants, perhaps suffering from cabin fever and inspired by the day’s beautiful weather, gathered to tally 42 species at various points along Lake Champlain. Previous years’ trips have averaged about 33 species.

Sunshine, no wind, and warm temperatures made for good, and comfortable, viewing conditions. The day was even fair enough to enjoy lunch outdoors at Ferrisburg Town Beach once the picnic table was cleared of snow with a snowbrush.

Waterfowl, the highlight of any winter trip along the lake, included a good number of Common Goldeneye (581). At Meach Cove in Shelburne they were in close enough to shore to see them in close detail, including the males throwing their heads back in courtship display. One Horned Grebe was also seen at Meach Cove. Another eight grebes were at Charlotte Town Beach. Two Common Loons, no longer sporting their formal summer attire, were also seen there. A third Common Loon was observed at Converse Bay, but what drew the observers’ attention was a Double-crested Cormorant, about seven weeks out of season. A Belted Kingfisher, also uncommon in winter, was also heard.

Other highlights included a high number of Red-tailed Hawk (29) and Bald Eagle (16). The eagles included two immatures bathing side by side in the water along the shore. Four Rough-legged Hawks, being reported in lower numbers this year, were observed. Last year we reported 19.

Other birds which birders search for in winter are Northern Shrike and Snow Bunting. The group enjoyed good looks at a shrike through a spotting scope as perched high in a tree in the bright sunshine. Snow Buntings were located in two locations, sparkling across snowy fields in small flocks.

Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins in several locations were another cheerful addition to the day as was a Red-bellied Woodpecker at Kingsland Bay. The day ended with 80 Horned Larks on Nortontown Road in Addison.

A total of 25 checklists were submitted to eBird.

A special thanks to Roy Pilcher for leading a sometimes unruly, but grateful, crowd through the Champlain Valley.

Total Species List:

Canada Goose 9 Bufflehead 6 Common Merganser 94
American Black Duck 36 Mallard 44 Common Goldeneye 581
Hooded Merganser 8 Wild Turkey 2 Common Loon 3
Horned Grebe 9 Double-crested Cormorant 1 Bald Eagle 16
Cooper's Hawk 1 Red-tailed Hawk 29 Rough-legged Hawk 4
Ring-billed Gull 167 Herring Gull 9 Great Black-backed Gull 16
Rock Pigeon 3 Mourning Dove 3 Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Downy Woodpecker 2 Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Shrike 2 Blue Jay 4 American Crow 25
Common Raven 2 Horned Lark 80 Black-capped Chickadee 7
Tufted Titmouse 2 White-breasted Nuthatch 4 Eastern Bluebird 5
American Robin 20 European Starling X American Tree Sparrow 8
Dark-eyed Junco 2 Snow Bunting 54 Northern Cardinal 2
House Finch 1 American Goldfinch 1 House Sparrow 4

West Rutland Marsh - 55 more acres preserved!

We have exciting news about our preservation efforts at West Rutland Marsh. As many of you know, Rutland County Audubon has undertaken a long-term Yellow Warblereffort to preserve the marsh through bird monitoring and offering environmental education opportunities. Much of the wetland is owned privately, which potentially makes the ideal bird and wildlife habitat vulnerable. While there has been no immediate threat of development, there is also no guarantee.

Thanks to a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) that has changed. Spearheaded by RCAS, the town of West Rutland succesfully applied for the grant and now the town owns another 55-acre parcel which will be protected. This particular parcel is important because of its habitat and location. The property consists of a broad marshy stretch of the Castleton River's headwaters and a grove of old growth white pine. It is located between Whipple Hollow Road and Marble Street and is bordered on the north and west by lands already preserved. This key piece provides a continguous parcel of protect habitat.

The grant process, begun in July 2008, has been a long one. VHCB supported us throughout the process despite budget cuts in a difficult economic time and our attorney helped steer us through some legal glitches. One of the strong points of the application was the partnership between a municipality and a non-profit organization.

The news comes with responsiblity. RCAS has accepted the challenge of helping plan and implement conservation goals to this parcel and the additional 200 plus acres owned by the town. We will need plenty of volunteer help and probably financial support. We must develop an action plan to have everyone understand what needs to be done and in what order. If you are interested in helping, let us know by contacting me at vtbirdhouses@yahoo.com or at 775-2415.

It is a thrill to be making a positive effort in preserving bird habitat. We believe that places like this must be preserved. In fact it may be more important now than ever to keep places like West Rutland Marsh unspoiled by development. It is during the tough times that we most enjoy the natural world.