Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Monday, July 13, 2009

BIRD NOTES ~ July 13, 2009


Bird Notes


The following event took place at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area in Sullivan County, NY. We enjoyed this story by John Haas so very much and wanted to share it with you all. (Reprinted here by permission) John is a birding enthusiast and the author of “Birding Guide to Sullivan County”.


A Pied-billed Grebe’s Story

In late November I noticed a Pied-billed Grebe near the bridge on Haven Road.  There had been two earlier in the month, but only one remained. The bird didn’t look quite right to me, but it was very elusive, disappearing at first sight. I mentioned it to Scott Baldinger, who informed me he, too, had been seeing it regularly and he felt something must be wrong with it. I checked on the bird periodically and it was still present from time to time. 

As the deep freeze gripped the area, I noticed the bird’s world was growing smaller and smaller. By this time, the grebe, soon to be known as PB, was appearing quite normal. If it weren’t for the fact that he was present so late, in an ever shrinking environment, I would have thought it was normal.

On January 16th there was less than a twenty foot opening in the channel by the bridge. I was sure by now that the bird could not fly or it would certainly have departed. When I awoke Saturday, January 17th, the temperature was 10 degrees below zero!  I picked up Arlene Borko and we went to try to rescue the grebe.  Lance Verderame was to join us at the bridge. As I approached the railing, I realized I was too late. Arlene joined me, and what we saw was disturbing. The water was frozen and the grebe, whose head was all that was exposed through the ice, was apparently dead, frozen in the ice. You could see the bird’s body and legs swaying in the current under the ice.

As we looked on, I suddenly said to Arlene, “What was that noise?”  She hadn’t heard it, but I was certain I had heard a faint grunt. I went to get something to break the ice, and the bird broke free and dove into the water.  Would it come up again in the tiny hole? Would it just flow away under the ice in the current? We were afraid of the answers. Suddenly, the grebe poked just the front of his bill from under the ice. What were we going to do now? I got my tripod and broke the ice to make a larger hole, from which I proceeded to push the ice under the edges and it was carried away in the current. (My tripod now lies on the bottom of the Bash waiting for spring). We knew we had to do something more and quickly. We went to my house for a net, and Arlene’s for some boards and rope. I tried to shimmy out onto the ice, but it was only an inch thick at that spot and it became apparent that I too would soon be in the channel. Arlene couldn’t stand it and asked me to get off the ice. As the three of us contemplated our next step, a New York State trooper pulled up, asking us what we were doing. We now had another partner. He said he would request a long pole from the barracks to attach to my net. Another trooper responded to help out as we waited for the pole. By this time, the bird decided to pop up in the hole and actually floated for the first time since breaking free. 

I saw my chance and poked behind him with the net. He jumped out of the hole onto the ice and hopped a short distance.  Spurred on by the group, (now a third trooper had joined in) I attempted to herd him closer to shore.  As soon as he cleared the railing, he made a break for it, but so did I. I belly flopped out on the ice (this part quite hard) and swooped the net at the same time. I had him! The excitement was contagious! 

We examined the grebe and he was missing his left wing. This was almost certainly the result of a gun shot, or perhaps a muskrat trap. He was in surprisingly good shape. We paused for some photos then took him to an open spring fed pond where he would remain safe in the warmer water. Not really being sure how many fish were in the ponds (though we knew it had fish) or if the fish were the right size for him to eat, we purchased bait fish to add to the pond. It is now a month later, and PB is doing great! Hopefully he will live a long happy life in his new home.


John Haas, Yankee Lake, NY



Blueberry Netting

Thanks for your BIRD NOTES, I'm enjoying them. Thought I would forward to you this Master Gardener information request for what to use to cover blueberry bushes that will not ensnare birds.  We used to use tobacco netting too, but don't know where to buy it these days; do you? 

---Karen Davis


Hi - Just a word of caution. I bought a package of netting to cover two blueberry bushes.  It had rather large holes and it was some kind of plastic, but it was all I could find.  It was on the bushes only 24 hours and a beautiful bird was all tangled up in it.  I don't know how long he was there, but fortunately I went outside and checked my veggie garden and saw him.  I had a scissors and cut away as much as I could - it was around his neck, tangled in his wings and wrapped around his legs.  I got all but was tight around the legs and when I let him loose, he hopped away and then took off and flew away.  I used to use tobacco netting when I lived in CT but I haven't found anything like that up here.  Does anyone have any ideas about what to use?  Naturally, I took the other stuff off.  Hope to hear from someone.  Thanks - Jane Hurley



~~~~ P  R  O  G  R  A  M ~~~~



6:00 pm, Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Kali and Spalding, with help from the calm, slow hands of their good friend Bob, will do a program on reptiles. Here’s why they know so much about the subject: Kali is a 14 foot Burmese Python; Spaulding is a 4.5 foot Ball Python; Bob (as in Engel) is a biologist at Marlboro College.

Note the early starting time of 6 pm, so kids of all ages can attend.


Sponsored by the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

The program is FREE and open to the public


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.

Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

 and touches your heart.







Wednesday, July 01, 2009

BIRD NOTES ~ July 1, 2009

Bird Notes

Fun at the Feeders

I've previously had Oriole's sipping nectar from my Hummingbird feeder, but this year I've had a female Downy Woodpecker taking a drink now and then. When I was doing some yard work, near my sunflower seed/ suet feeder, a Chickadee landed on top of the feeder, about two feet away from me. Although that is not all that unusual for a Chickadee, this one didn't even flinch as I moved. He looked a little scruffy, so I thought he might be a naive youngster. Moving more slowly, I took a sunflower seed from the feeder and presented it to him. He eagerly took it, from my palm and then another, but he dropped both. Then he went to the suet feeder, which hangs on the side of the sunflower seed feeder. It was then that I noticed he was hanging on the wire suet feeder by just one foot, while he ate suet. After some suet, he went back to the top of the sunflower seed feeder. This time, I saw that he was only standing on one leg, while the other leg, bent at an odd angle, was of no use. He took another seed from me, held on to it this time and then flew off with it. Sadly, I think that having just one working leg must make food gathering pretty difficult and his hunger made him bolder. And with me being near the feeder, I helped by scaring away the competition, making it easier for him to feed.

---Steve Medved, Putney, VT




Bank Swallows

The other day I followed Lance Tanino's post in the NHBIRD list and drove to Surry, NH, to check out the colony of bank swallows. It was an overcast day, and my pictures came out brown in brown - the dark brown swallows against the sand-colored bank. There were maybe 30+ swallows flying around but none of them would enter their nest cavities until I, and my dog, got back into my car using it as a blind. We were too far from the bank to pose any threats but the swallows appear to be extra cautious. Anyway, here is a link to the photos:

---Hilke Breder, Brattleboro, VT



Henslow’s Sparrow in Montague, MA

This grasslands sparrow was named by John James Audubon for his friend John S. Henslow, an English botanist, geologist, clergyman and teacher. It is a real neat little bird that is becoming rarer due to the loss of more and more farmland to developers. This morning we made the half hour drive south to Montague, Massachusetts, with fellow birder Chris Petrak, in search of this rare sparrow that was reported to have been first sighted this past Saturday in a hayfield along Meadow Road. It is only about 5 inches in length with a striped olive-colored head and rufous in the wings. We found it in that exact field perched atop a tall weed, emitting a loud, insect like, “chi-lick”. It was a life bird for Chris and only the third sighting of that species for us.

---Barbara Merritt, W. Brattleboro, VT




Vermont Farmers Change Ways to Help Birds

SHELDON, VT (AP)—A University of Vermont researcher is merging science with conservation with a project that pays farmers to help protect grassland songbirds. The six years that wildlife biologist Noah Perlut spent studying Vermont hayfields has resulted in a federal program that pays farmers $135 an acre to cut their hayfields by June 2 and delay their second cutting till mid-July. That gives songbirds like Bobolinks time to build nests, hatch eggs and raise young.

     Under the usual haying schedule, most of the nests are destroyed. Before Perlut’s study, researchers assumed that postponing all cutting until after nesting season was the only way to protect the birds. The Burlington Free Press says four landowners are participating this year.



The Kindergarten Gang at Chipmunk Crossing

If you do not feed the birds at this time of year, you are missing out on all of the fledglings that are, or soon will be, showing up with gaping mouths, fluttering wings, and squeaks and chirps begging food from their parents. At present we have the following frequenting our little acre:

Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Common Grackle, Crow, Redwing Blackbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-capped Chickadee, and Purple Finch.


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.

Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT


A friend is someone who reaches for your hand

 and touches your heart.