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



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