Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ July 16, 2008

Bird Notes



California Condors OK Amid Ruins

   Making their way deep into the wilderness along a narrow dirt road Tuesday, Kelly Sorenson and Joe Burnett of the Ventana Wildlife Society didn't know what they would find. They returned for the first time in about two weeks to the mountaintop condor sanctuary in Los Padres National Forest. Since 1997, almost half of California's condors have been reintroduced into the wild from there. "Just not knowing is the hardest part," said Sorenson, executive director of the Wildlife Society. When the Basin Complex Fire erupted June 21, the compound's staff was forced to evacuate, moving eight condors held in captivity to safety before leaving. The rescued birds are doing fine at their temporary home at Pinnacles National Monument, but the well-being of birds still around the sanctuary, and the condition of the facilities, worried Sorenson and Burnett, a senior wildlife biologist. "It's been frustrating the last two weeks not being able to get up here," said Sorenson. Charred trees and ash covering the slopes and making it look like a moonscape indicated what they might find would not be good. Their expectations were not high. But as their dusty pickup reached a point in the road overlooking the compound, both men erupted in joy, sharing a high five. Amid the ruins, there was a sign of life. Perched on a rock was a condor, No. 340, hatched at the Oregon Zoo under the care of Burnett several years ago. Covered with a thin layer of ash, the bird stood virtually motionless, looking over the remains of a release pen on the hillside below. Flames had torn through the corrugated sheet metal, twisting it in the heat. The presence of Sorenson, Burnett and a volunteer accompanying them didn't rouse the condor at first. As Burnett stepped closer, the bird spread its wings and took flight, soaring across the scorched terrain and landing in a nearby tree. "They are as bewildered as we are," Burnett said. Sorenson said seeing the condor was uplifting. It will be some time before the wildlife society can resume its work, he said. While the fire missed their mountain cabin, a trailer was reduced to a pile of rubble. The condor pens were lost. "Almost the entire infrastructure for the birds is destroyed," Sorenson said. "We are going to have a lot of rebuilding to do. I'm just glad it's not a total loss."  Burnett said all but one of the 25 condors in the wilderness have been accounted for, a good sign they know how to survive on their own. Sorenson said the priority is determining if three condor chicks nesting within the fire area have survived. "Two of the three we are pretty confident survived," said Burnett.

By Daniel Lopez
Herald Staff Writer

Monterey Herald, CA



SVAS Board Members

On Tuesday, July 29th, 5 p.m.—Pot Luck Dinner. To be held at the residence of Hollie Bowen, 1013 Stark Rd., Marlboro. (Directions: From Rt. 9 West, go south on MacArthur Road 1.4 miles to “T” intersection with Stark Rd. Go left on Stark Rd. to first home on right). Good food, good bird and biological gossip, with a brief board meeting at the end. Please come!!




Do You Have Young Birds coming in to Your Feeders?

The youngsters are still showing up each day at our feeders. The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have increased their numbers to 7 (The females are hard to distinguish from the young.) plus the couple of mature males that show up from time to time to join in the free food feast. The male and female Indigo Bunting is coming more frequently too. Today their youngster made a showing with them. It looks much like the brown female except its wings and tail are showing a hint of dark blue. The young Song Sparrows have a yellow wash to their bellies and under tail, making you think of Savannah Sparrow except they have no yellow on the face and they are heavily streaked down chest and belly. The young male Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are sporting regal maroon caps.


Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.

A friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


Sunday, July 06, 2008

BIRD NOTES ~ July 6, 2008


Pileated Woodpecker ( female) by Hilke Breder

Bird Notes



We have an Eastern Kingbird nest outside of our dining room close to our feeders. A pair of crows likes to clean up the ground under the feeders, but as soon as they cross a line visible only to the Kingbirds they are dive bombed and driven from the yard.  The nest is right over our garden and the Kingbirds completely ignore us.

  A couple of weeks ago the crows must have been feeding young.  One of them collected several worms from the lawn, that were sticking out of his bill, and he flew off with them.  He looked like a fox who had just found a mouse nest.

---Susan James, Guilford




I reported the Carolina Wren off Orchard St. last week.  According to Sibley, they're rare in our territory although perhaps they're coming north with warmer temps.

  Scarlet Tanagers have nested in the woods by our house off Bonnyvale Road for the past several years and are here again.  I've noticed an increase in these birds over the past 2 decades. 

  Lots of warblers this year, including nesting Blackburnians near us. 

  An extraordinary number of Pileated Woodpeckers live in the surrounding woods.  I watched one call in an air strike of 3 others on our cat who, as a result, seems less likely to stalk pileateds. 

---Mimi Morton, W. Brattleboro




While preparing supper today I glanced out my kitchen window into the backyard and saw a female Pileated Woodpecker making her way around a dead pine stump that serves as an anchor for a clothes line. She was removing chips of bark and retrieving ants with her long tongue (second photo). The crest was brilliant, almost iridescent red, difficult to catch in a photo. 

---Hilke Breder, Brattleboro



Please Report Dead birds

The only birds that tested positive last year for West Nile Virus in Vermont came from Windham County, and again this month the Department of Health is starting its program of collecting and testing dead birds to track the spread of the disease. 370 dead birds were collected in Vermont in 2007. 55 were tested, 3 of those tested positive, all 3 were from Windham County.

  The health department reports that people cannot get the virus from handling live or dead birds, and officials there are asking anyone who sees a dead bird to bring it in to the district office in Brattleboro, Vermont Department of Health, 232 Main Street, Suite 3 or by calling the dead bird report line at: 800-913-1139.

  More information can be found on the Health Department web site:


Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.

A friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.



Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


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