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Entries in Bird Monitoring (67)


west rutland marsh - november monitoring results

Even when the birding is slow, there is always something to look at while at the marsh such as this highbush cranbury, future food for winter birds, and a newly downed tree courtesy of a beaver.Nine birders headed into a bitter north wind for today’s West Rutland Marsh monitoring walk, our 136th consecutive trip around the marsh.

As expected the total number of species is reaching its yearly low with 19 species observed. Still this is one more than our November average of 18. It is, however, well below last year’s unusual high of 27.

A Ruffed Grouse startled the group as it burst out of the woods and flew across the road. A Red-tailed Hawk soared above the marsh. A lone robin’s tut tut was heard. As expected, the most activity was at feeders along Whipple Hollow Road.

American Black Duck 3

Mallard 12

Ruffed Grouse 1

Red-tailed Hawk 1

Rock Pigeon 11

Mourning Dove 4

Downy Woodpecker 2

Blue Jay 10

American Crow 7

Black-capped Chickadee 20

Tufted Titmouse 1

White-breasted Nuthatch 2

American Robin 1

European Starling 1

American Tree Sparrow 3

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 6

House Finch 1

American Goldfinch 7

House Sparrow 2


west rutland marsh - October monitoring results

Nineteen birders turned out on a balmy October 20 morning for the 135th consecutive monthly marsh monitoring walk around West Rutland Marsh. Thirty-four species were tallied, two less than last year this time, but above our October average of 31 species.

As might be expected, Red-winged Blackbird was the “bird of the day” with large groups seen streaming over the adjacent ridge. A fair number of Common Grackles were observed as well. American Crows were seen in high numbers. Two Sharp-shinned Hawks appeared to be having a dispute with the crows. A third Sharpie and a Cooper’s Hawk in migration mode were also observed.

A single Hermit Thrush was seen skulking in the underbrush along Whipple Hollow Road.

Canada Goose  28

Wood Duck  6

Mallard  18

Great Blue Heron  3

Sharp-shinned Hawk  3

Cooper's Hawk  1

Red-tailed Hawk  2

Rock Pigeon  6

Mourning Dove  4

Belted Kingfisher  1

Downy Woodpecker  5

Hairy Woodpecker  1

Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  4

Pileated Woodpecker  1

Blue Jay  15

American Crow  183

Common Raven  6

Black-capped Chickadee  28

Tufted Titmouse  2

White-breasted Nuthatch  2

Brown Creeper  1

Hermit Thrush  1

American Robin  29

European Starling  4

Cedar Waxwing  1

Song Sparrow  6

Swamp Sparrow  5

White-throated Sparrow  4

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  33

Northern Cardinal  2

Red-winged Blackbird  2685   

Common Grackle  91

American Goldfinch  6

House Sparrow  1


west rutland marsh -september monitoring results

Eleven birders, invigorated by the cool morning temperature, set out for the 134th consecutive RCAS monthly monitoring walk around West Rutland Marsh this morning. The species count was 38, right on target for our September average, but four short of this time last time.

a dense fog hangs over West Rutland MarshFor the first half of the trip, a dense fog obscured all but the near view. Oddly, however, this allowed for great views of three birds. First, a Belted Kingfisher was perched on a small tree, framed by fog, but close enough for detailed observation.

Shortly after that we came across a Cooper’s Hawk, which we determined to be an immature by its streaked breast and yellow eye. It sat patiently for several minutes giving all a good look. It was still perched, undisturbed by our movement, as we walked on.

The highlight for the morning was a Swainson’s Thrush, a life bird for several in the group. It, too, sat still for several minutes, allowing us to observe the field marks that distinguish it from other thrushes. And, after remarking at the start of the walk that we have not added any new birds in over a year, this was the first appearance of a Swainson’s Thrush on a marsh walk. Our species list now stands at 145. 

Warblers were scarce with three Common Yellowthroats and one Nashville Warbler. The only vireo observed was a Blue-headed, still singing. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird was seen speeding across a field. The day’s total would have been 39 if a cuckoo seen in flight could have been determined to be Yellow-billed or Black-billed.

It must have been a good year for Gray Catbirds – 17 were recorded. Red-winged Blackbird numbers also were high (399), but nowhere near as high as last year’s count of 2,447.

By mid-morning the fog had cleared to reveal a perfect Vermont day and a handsome male Northern Harrier coursing over the marsh.

September 20, 2012 list:

Canada Goose  2

Mallard  12

Wild Turkey  26

Great Blue Heron  2

Northern Harrier  1

Cooper's Hawk  1

Broad-winged Hawk  1

Red-tailed Hawk  1

Mourning Dove  20

Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1

Belted Kingfisher  2

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  3

Downy Woodpecker  6

Northern Flicker  5

Pileated Woodpecker  1

Eastern Phoebe  6

Blue-headed Vireo  1

Blue Jay  38

American Crow  11

Common Raven  3

Black-capped Chickadee  16

Golden-crowned Kinglet  1

Swainson's Thrush  1

American Robin  2

Gray Catbird  17

European Starling  16

Cedar Waxwing  11

Nashville Warbler  1

Common Yellowthroat  3

Savannah Sparrow  1

Song Sparrow  11

Swamp Sparrow  15

White-throated Sparrow  6

Northern Cardinal  3

Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1

Red-winged Blackbird  399

House Finch  7

American Goldfinch  15


upcoming power line survey - volunteers needed!

RCAS will begin a new birding project this spring. We hope will appeal to members and non-members alike . Details will be provided at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 PM at the Union Church Parish house in Proctor. For newcomers, park in the back lot by driving past the main entrance and going left and down the hill. We will meet downstairs; there is a lower entrance just off the lot.

We have been asked to complete a bird species list by Audubon Vermont and Vermont Power (VELCO) for several power line areas. We expect this to involve surveying seven or eight power line routes in our area of Rutland County. It may involve more such as finding which species actually nest and where.

Experienced birders know that power lines are great places to find some of our favorite species.  The Eastern Towhee shown here came from a power line, a place we find them consistently. It’s also good for Blue-winged and Golden winged warblers and their hybrids. When it comes to finding birds we know there could be some exciting discoveries. That’s why we are doing it.

The meeting is being held to explain the project, answer questions and sign up volunteers. The meeting will be conducted by Mark LaBarr and Margaret Fowle of Audubon Vermont. We also hope to have a VELCO representative present. Sue Wetmore, RCAS board member and birder extraordinaire, will lead the project in Rutland County.

This is a way to learn about birds, enjoy seeing birds and contribute to their preservation and protection. We hope to see you there.


a decade of bird monitoring

On August 16, 2001, fifteen members and friends of Rutland County Audubon sallied forth with the simple goal of recording, on a monthly basis, all the birds seen and heard on the 3.7 mile walk around West Rutland Marsh. The tally for that day was forty-five species! On July 21, 2011, ten years later, and having never missed a single month, nine well seasoned and, still enthusiastic, birders recorded 48 bird species. The log of species in the intervening years has now risen to 143 and the total number of participants to a staggering 1,395! Unforeseen only ten years ago was the introduction of eBird, now the ever expanding repository of not only these local marsh monitoring records, but of bird sightings across North America and now, in fact, to the world beyond.

What accounts for this quite remarkable number of bird species within the confinement of this relatively small area is the diversity of habitats. These include an extensive cattail marsh, a shrub swamp, some red maple-black ash hardwoods, stands of northern white cedar and white pine, in addition to open meadows and some, but limited, scattering of homes and formal gardens. If you have never done so, consider taking the time to visit the ten stations of the Bridge-to-Bridge Interpretive Trail to learn more about these habitats.

a Virginia Rail escorts its young across Marble St.Very few of the bird species encountered rise to the level of requiring Rare Species Documentation. Nevertheless, some of the totals recorded in a single monitoring walk are quite impressive. These record highs include American Bittern (5), Least Bittern (3), Alder Flycatcher (10), Willow Flycatcher (11), Least Flycatcher (10), Eastern Kingbird (29), Warbling Vireo (11), Marsh Wren (19), Eastern Bluebird (28), Veery (16), Common Yellowthroat (24), and Rusty Blackbird (18).

The occurrence, sustainability and diversity of these bird populations are directly tied to the health and preservation of the habitat upon which they depend. The encouraging news is that both Rutland County Audubon and the Town of West Rutland through their elected representatives are united in the goal of preserving this wetland ecosystem and the lands surrounding it.