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Entries in Bird Monitoring (58)


West Rutland Marsh - September 2017

What a difference a day makes! After the past week of record-breaking highs, 18 birders were greeted with a north wind and a lower, but still pleasant, temperature for today’s walk around West Rutland Marsh. Finally fall is in the air.

The number of species was quite low, with 30 observed. This is lower than our September average of 39 and quite a bit lower than last year’s 45. No doubt the stiff wind was keeping many birds down.

The marsh itself was fairly quiet with a great blue heron, a handful of mallards and two swamp sparrows. Red-winged blackbirds, at least 50, were attempting to rise from the cattails, but were being kept down by the wind.

One species was taking advantage of the wind and pointed south. Several large flocks, some over a 100, of Canada geese were seen in their traditional V formation with 1,134 reported for the day.

Another species probably in migration was black vulture – with four spotted over the ridge next to the marsh. This was a life bird some participants and we all had good looks at them. Seven turkey vultures were also seen.

Raptors included two red-tailed hawks and a Cooper’s hawk.

Three warbler species were spotted: one common yellowthroat, two yellow-rumped warblers and one black-throated green warbler. A blue-headed vireo was still singing and a chipping sparrow was seen in a yard.

The next marsh walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 21, at 8 a.m.

Today’s list:


Canada Goose  1134    
Mallard  6
Great Blue Heron  1
Black Vulture  4    
Turkey Vulture  7
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  5
Mourning Dove  4
Downy Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  4
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  41
American Crow  38
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  13
Tufted Titmouse  1
American Robin  5
European Starling  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  2
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  50
American Goldfinch  7
House Sparrow  3




West Rutland Marsh - August 2017

Cedar WaxwingAn anniversary almost slipped by us – today’s walk around West Rutland Marsh marked the start of our 17th year of monitoring. That’s 193 trips around the marsh in all kinds of weather from subzero to blistering heat and a lot in between.

Today’s weather was delightful with an early morning fog followed by mostly sunny with a light breeze. Although the morning ended on a somewhat warm note, autumn is in the air. The foliage looks a bit tired, but the amount of fruit on the various shrubs and trees is promising for this winter’s birds.

Eighteen participants tallied 41 species today. While that may seem high for an August bird walk, past years have yielded as many as 58 (in 2015) with an average of 45. Other August numbers have been as low as 38.

Except for the short-circuit call note of the gray catbirds and a brief burst from a Baltimore oriole, bird sound was somewhat muted. We did hear one call note from a marsh wren and a couple songs from swamp sparrows. And, of course, the red-eyed vireos go on and on.

Birds of note included a small flock of warblers along Whipple Hollow Road. Along with black-and-white-warblers and American redstarts, there was a blue-winged warbler. A single savannah sparrow was on Pleasant Street.

Eleven ruby-throated hummingbirds were counted. It’s post-breeding season and migration is right around the corner. There was plenty of bee-balm and jewelweed for them.

American goldfinches and cedar waxwings were everywhere.

Our next marsh walk is scheduled for Thursday, September 28 at 8 a.m.

Today’s list: 

Mallard  1
American Black Duck  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Green Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  2
Red-tailed Hawk  3
Mourning Dove  12
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  11    
Belted Kingfisher  1
Downy Woodpecker  5
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Empidonax sp.  5
Eastern Phoebe  8
Eastern Kingbird  4
Warbling Vireo  3
Red-eyed Vireo  5
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  22
Common Raven  1
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  12
Black-capped Chickadee  14
Tufted Titmouse  1
Marsh Wren  1
American Robin  1
Gray Catbird  17    
European Starling  13
Cedar Waxwing  19
Blue-winged Warbler  1    
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  5
American Redstart  9
Savannah Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  6
Northern Cardinal  7
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Baltimore Oriole  1
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Common Grackle  7
American Goldfinch  42
House Sparrow  3




West Rutland Marsh - July 2017

Marsh WrenIt was a beautiful day at West Rutland Marsh for our monitoring walk! Don’t we say that every month? Fifteen birders gathered to count 50 species. Our average for July is 51. The high was 57 in 2015.

We started the morning as we always do with a stroll down the boardwalk. Swamp sparrows and marsh wrens continue to sing away and a house wren is still chattering away near the kiosk. But the highlight here was an American bittern crouched next to the boardwalk. Several of us saw it before it crept away through the cattails. Amazingly, it was in the same spot when we returned over three hours later.

No great blue herons were seen today, but a green heron was seen in flight and a least bittern flew across the road just north of the boardwalk. This is one of the two spots it has been seen or heard on a fairly regular basis this season.

We all had a good look a two marsh wrens along Marble Street and they landed in front of us and pecked at an appealing (to them) tidbit.

Two warbling vireos were singing rather weakly, but the red-eye vireos are still going on and on.

There is plenty of evidence of breeding. Eastern kingbird young were begging for food and an adult female rose-breasted grosbeak was feeding a youngster.

American Black BearWarbler song was a bit muted today except for numerous common yellowthroats and five black-and-white warblers, who are still singing rather enthusiastically. Three American redstarts were heard as well as one ovenbird. Three yellow warblers were seen, but were not vocalizing.

Raptor numbers were low, but we did have a good look at a peregrine falcon as it flew by. A red-tailed hawk was being chased by crows (no sign of ravens today).

We also took a peek at butterflies today as the day was warm and sunny -  a viceroy was perched on Queen Anne’s lace and a Baltimore checkerspot seemed to be enjoying the poison parsnip. Tiger swallowtails were everywhere.

And, as wonderful as the birds and butterflies were this morning, they were upstaged by a mammal. A bear crossed Marble Street ahead of us!

Our next walk is scheduled for Saturday, August 19, at 7 a.m.

Today's List:


American Bittern  1    
Least Bittern  1    
Green Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4
Mourning Dove  13
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  8
Northern Flicker  3
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  3
Alder Flycatcher  7
Willow Flycatcher  2
Eastern Phoebe  4
Eastern Kingbird  6
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Warbling Vireo  2
Red-eyed Vireo  10
Blue Jay  5
American Crow  6
Barn Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  16
Tufted Titmouse  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Brown Creeper  1
House Wren  5
Marsh Wren  8
Carolina Wren  1
Veery  12
American Robin  7
Gray Catbird  15
European Starling  24
Cedar Waxwing  23
Ovenbird  1
Black-and-white Warbler  5
Common Yellowthroat  16
American Redstart  3
Yellow Warbler  4
Song Sparrow  9
Swamp Sparrow  11
Northern Cardinal  5
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  6
Red-winged Blackbird  12
Common Grackle  4
American Goldfinch  16
House Sparrow  2








West Rutland Marsh - May Monitoring Report

how many birders can you fit in a car?We always say nothing beats the West Rutland Marsh in May (well, June is good too!). Today 26 participants, enjoying a taste of summer, tallied 68 species.  

Although neither American nor least bittern was observed (least bittern was reported earlier in the week), both Virginia rail and sora were among today’s numbers. Marsh wrens, swamp sparrows, yellow warblers and common yellowthroat were in full voice.

Both alder and willow flycatchers have returned and a high number of eastern kingbirds – twelve – were busy defending territories. One great crested flycatcher was heard briefly along Whipple Hollow Road and the ‘che-bek’ of four least flycatchers was heard.

Hawks were in low numbers with only two red-tailed hawks and three raptor wannabes - turkey vultures.

Red Columbine along Whipple Hollow RoadA brown thrasher was observed along Marble Street (north of the green house). At least three Baltimore orioles were seen along this area where they have nested in the past.

Warblers, the joy of the season, were seen and/or heard in good number with 11 of those species. A ‘winged warbler’ sang ‘bees buzz’ from the east side of Marble street indicating the presence of a blue-winged or golden-winged warbler or a hybrid of the two. Two northern waterthrush were heard, one along Pleasant street and one along Whipple Hollow and two Canada warblers have returned to Whipple Hollow Road this year. Other warblers were black-and-white, Nashville, common yellowthroat, American redstart, yellow, chestnut-sided and black-throated green warbler.

The next marsh walk is scheduled for Saturday, June 10, at 7 a.m.

Today’s list:  

Canada Goose  9
Wood Duck  2
Mallard  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  3
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Virginia Rail  3
Sora  1
Wilson's Snipe  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Mourning Dove  8
Chimney Swift  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  6
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  4
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Alder Flycatcher  9
Willow Flycatcher  3
Least Flycatcher  4
Eastern Phoebe  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Eastern Kingbird  12    
Warbling Vireo  10
Red-eyed Vireo  7
Blue Jay  11
American Crow  2
Common Raven  4
Tree Swallow  8
Barn Swallow  8
Black-capped Chickadee  8
Tufted Titmouse  2
Brown Creeper  1
House Wren  5
Marsh Wren  10
Eastern Bluebird  2
Veery  8
Wood Thrush  1
American Robin  5
Gray Catbird  9
Brown Thrasher  1
European Starling  4
Cedar Waxwing  8
Ovenbird  7
Northern Waterthrush  2
Golden-winged/Blue-winged Warbler  1    
Black-and-white Warbler  7
Nashville Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  22
American Redstart  10
Yellow Warbler  22
Chestnut-sided Warbler  3
Black-throated Green Warbler  2
Canada Warbler  2
Song Sparrow  7
Swamp Sparrow  16
Scarlet Tanager  1
Northern Cardinal  3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Red-winged Blackbird  19
Common Grackle  12
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
Baltimore Oriole  5
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  19
House Sparrow  2




West Rutland Marsh - April Monitoring Report

It’s hard to say which was more amazing – the number of species or the number of birders – at today’s walk around West Rutland Marsh!

Thirty-six birders, from age 7 to 89, showed up despite the somewhat gloomy weather (the rain held off until the very end). Fortunately, there was no wind and, as the bird song has noticeably increased since last month, it turned out to be a very pleasant morning. There were plenty of new faces as well as a contingent from Otter Creek Audubon

Fifty-three species were tallied, a new April high, well above our average of 42 for this month of the year. It is also eight more than observed a year ago this month.

Two of the marsh’s signature species, Virginia rail and American bittern, were heard immediately from the boardwalk. We later saw a bittern in flight near the intersection of Whipple Hollow and Water streets.

Raptors were well-represented with two northern harriers, one sharp-shinned hawk, one red-shouldered hawk (not commonly observed on this walk), one red-tailed hawk and one American kestrel.

Tree SwallowsOne of the highlights of the walk was a flock of 63 tree swallows, accompanied by a handful of barn swallows and northern rough-winged swallows, swirling over Water Street, and occasionally landing in a tree.

Ruby-crowned kinglets were everywhere along the route as they have been throughout Vermont this week. One golden-crowned kinglet was also heard. Two marsh wrens were singing as well as three winter wrens and a blue-headed vireo. A brown creeper was singing as well.

A pair of eastern bluebirds was investigating a bird house, a spot where they have nested in previous years. A hermit thrush, our state bird, has also returned.

The advance front of warblers is in - yellow-rumped warblers with three seen along the route.

Twenty-six swamp sparrows were counted, all in enthusiastic song, so no doubt some females were missed. Song sparrows were heard or spotted along the route, while a couple of American tree sparrows are still hanging around the feeders near the boardwalk.

Another sign of spring was bloodroot in bloom and the budding marsh marigolds.

The next walk is scheduled for Thursday, May 18, at 7 a.m.

Today’s list:

Canada Goose  32
Wood Duck  4
Mallard  4
Ruffed Grouse  2
American Bittern  3
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  3
Northern Harrier  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Virginia Rail  4
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4
Mourning Dove  10
Belted Kingfisher  2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  4
Downy Woodpecker  6
Northern Flicker  3
American Kestrel  1
Eastern Phoebe  5
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  9
Common Raven  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  6
Tree Swallow  86    
Barn Swallow  10
Black-capped Chickadee  17
Tufted Titmouse  7
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Brown Creeper  1
Winter Wren  3
Marsh Wren  2
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  21    
Eastern Bluebird  3
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  17
Brown Thrasher  1
European Starling  7
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  4
American Tree Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  7
White-throated Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  17
Swamp Sparrow  26    
Northern Cardinal  9
Red-winged Blackbird  41
Common Grackle  8
Brown-headed Cowbird  5
Purple Finch  2
American Goldfinch  14
House Sparrow  1