Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Monday, April 29, 2013

SVAS Field Trip

Bird Watching Along the Connecticut

Saturday April 27, 2013


Many thanks to all of you for joining us Saturday morning on this annual early spring bird walk. The weather was near perfect, though it was a little chilly (34 degrees) at the start, but it turned into a beautiful sunny morning in the 60s.  It was the kind of day that gave us all a chance to shake off the winter blahs and enjoy spring at its finest with a great group of birders, on the back roads of Brattleboro. If you stuck with us until the noon hour and you saw or heard all of the species counted, you would have realized 30 on your list. They are as follows:


  1. Canada Goose
  2. Double-crested Cormorant
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  5. Killdeer
  6. Greater Yellowlegs
  7. Rock Pigeon
  8. Mourning Dove
  9. Belted Kingfisher
  10. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  11. Downy Woodpecker
  12. American Crow
  13. Tree Swallow
  14. Black-capped Chickadee
  15. Tufted Titmouse
  16. White-breasted Nuthatch
  17. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  18. American Robin
  19. Brown Thrasher
  20. European Starling
  21. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  22. Chipping Sparrow
  23. Field Sparrow
  24. Song Sparrow
  25. Swamp Sparrow
  26. White-throated Sparrow
  27. Northern Cardinal
  28. Red-winged Blackbird
  29. Common Grackle
  30. House Finch



Phyllis Benay, Jan Drechsler, Bob Engel, Henry Glejzer, Richard Glejzer, Susan James, Patty Meyer, Greg Moschetti, Anne Moore Odell, Chris Petrak,

Emily Talley, Susan Whittemore, Malcom & Marj Wright, and trip leaders Barbara & Al Merritt.


The next outing will be “Putney Wildflowers and Birds” ~ Sunday May 5, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. Meet our knowledgeable leader Pat Shields at the Putney School Forest kiosk by the Putney Pool (the driveway right before Putney Central School).


Happy Birding,


{BIRD NOTES} ~ April 29, 2013





      Bird Notes



Habitat for Phoebes

For years we've had a pair of Eastern Phoebes nesting under the roof of a three sided sheep shed, attached to our barn. Last fall the shed had to be torn down. Not wanting any homeless phoebes this spring, I recycled some scrap lumber and built and put up two phoebe friendly nesting boxes. One on the side of the barn, where the old shed was and the other on the opposite side of the barn. A definite upgrade in housing, since their old nesting spot, barely fit on top of the light socket, in the shed. Fortunately they agreed and two days after putting up the new boxes they began nest building, in the box on the opposite side of the barn. Their new location gives us an even better view of their comings and goings.

---Steve Medved, Putney, VT



TVs Over Waltham

This was my first ever sighting of Turkey Vultures in Waltham, they flew in tight circles just at treetop level over the Lyman Estates. An apparently female Cardinal has come to my feeder who has no head feathers, only fuzzy gray down. The bird acts normal otherwise, we call her "frazzle" I wonder if she has bird mange or is old?   (Anyone have any ideas about this condition?)

---Doreen Pugh, Waltham, MA



Sightings in and Around Brattleboro


Morningside Cemetery (4/27)



Water Treatment Plant Rt. 30

 1   Ruby-Crowned Kinglet


M & F Cardinal

2   Robins

19  Canada Geese

1  Brown Thrasher


East Orchard Street

3  Turkey Vultures

Field Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Pileated Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Sharp-shinned Hawk


Broad Brook Boat Launch

M. Wood Duck

8 Tree Swallows

4 Redwing Blackbirds

12 Canada Geese

4 Grackles

2 Eastern Phoebes

Belted Kingfisher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Yellow-rumped Warblers


Miller Farm Overlook

2 DC Cormorant

4  Robins

4 Song Sparrows

12 Savannah Sparrows

    Red-tailed Hawk

    Bluebird (Male)

Slate-colored Juncos 


Chipmunk Crossing

M. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

2 Goldfinch

2 Tufted Titmice

M & F Cowbird

M & F Cardinal

   Slate-colored Juncos

2 W-B Nuthatch

   B-C Chickadees

2 White-throated Sparrows

3 Blue Jays

3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets

2 Phoebes (nesting)

   Chipping Sparrow

4 Mourning Doves

   Wild Turkey (hen)

2 Crows

2 Canada Geese (flyovers)

Broad-winged Hawk(perched in tree)

Downy W.

Hairy W.




Please share your birding news with us.

Any new migrants?

What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT





Tuesday, April 23, 2013

{BIRD NOTES} ~ APRIL 23, 2013

      Bird Notes


F  I  E  L  D    T  R  I  P

Bird Watching Along the Connecticut

Saturday April 27, at 8 a.m.


Meet Al & Barb Merritt at Living Memorial Park in Brattleboro for a morning of birding in the Connecticut River Valley.

A possibility of seeing Bald Eagles, Osprey and a variety of waterfowl. Early passerine migrants will be starting to arrive.

Plan to meet at the parking area of Memorial Park so that we can start out as close to 8am as we are able.

Spring Is Here!



Spring Has Been Cool in Wilmington

On Saturday April 20th a female Eastern Towhee landed beside a Fox Sparrow in a little tree behind the house and  stayed for a good look. Have not seen a Towhee for a couple of years.   Will have to listen for the male. A gorgeous bright yellow male American Goldfinch sat on the feeder, we have six Mourning Doves as regulars  and there are a few White-Throated Sparrows scratching about with the Juncos and Song Sparrows. The Redwing Blackbird is around as are some European Starlings (~).  


The large Common Redpoll flock seems to be gone but a few remain.  Noticing sick and dead ones around so feeders get another round of bleach and most will be put away. Tree Swallows are inspecting the bird boxes – not seen any Eastern Bluebirds yet.  The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  is back pounding out his territory on the metal roof and a nice dead tree up the road. Lots of woodpecker and nuthatch activity in our many old trees.   No activity in the owl box down the road and have not heard the American Woodcocks in the meadow. It certainly has been a cold spring.

---Barbara Cole, Wilmington, VT



Cool Bird Bath

To our surprise, even though it is only 45 deg. outside, a Robin enjoyed having a full bath in our bird bath at midday today.

---Judy Myrick, West Brattleboro


HERMIT THRUSH  ~  Vermont’s State Bird


There was a mini fall-out of Hermit Thrushes here in Dummerston last night. Had 8 in my yard this morning.
---Hector Galbraith, Dummerston, VT



Lake Wantastiquet (4/19)

A tight raft of 12 Long-tailed Ducks in breeding plumage, 8 drakes, were resting in close to shore just above Vernon Dam as of 1:30 this afternoon. Also a Horned Grebe was hanging tight with a pair of Lesser Scaup and a somewhat aloof Red-necked Grebe was close by in the same location. Seven Bufflehead and 8 Ring-necked Ducks were busy feeding across the river.

---Dave Johnston, W. Brattleboro, VT



Birding Program on VPT, April 24

When you come inside after your spring birding, here is a program you will like on Vermont Public Television:


  April 24: Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the main VPT channel, "Nature" presents "Jungle Eagle." The most powerful raptor in the world, the Harpy Eagle, hides away deep in the South American jungle, rarely seen.  In this extraordinary film, a team of cameramen steps into the world of monkey-eating eagles and even risks injury to obtain pictures of them bringing back large monkeys to the nest.  The tables soon turn, however, as one of these massive birds starts following the team.

--- Ann Curran, VPT




Please share your birding news with us.

Any new migrants?

What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT






Friday, April 19, 2013

{BIRD NOTES} ~ April 19, 2013


                                                             OSPREY © Edith Thompson

              Bird Notes  


Attracting Birds Dilemma

As the new resident on the block, I've been complaining for months about my inability to attract birds to my feeders.  I've changed feeder styles multiple times, switching from platform feeders to cylinder styles -- both for thistle and black-oil sunflower seed.  I've introduced "Chickadee Mix" and Woodpecker Mix" and offered whole wheat bread with chunky peanut butter.  I have a bird bath that's available in sub-zero temperatures.  (Granted, I'm spoiled from my dozen plus years in Marlboro when Evening Grosbeaks used to be regulars on my deck railing and Redpolls lined my driveway.)


Whatever progress I've made here in town in the last few months just went up in smoke.  At about 4:30 p.m., today a Cooper's Hawk swooped in and grabbed a Mourning Dove and flew off with it, leaving a trail of feathers behind.  I'm sure the news will travel through the neighborhood bird population and my feeders will be off limits for weeks. 


Is this important juxtaposed against what's going on in Boston?  No.  But I needed to acknowledge the loss of one of my few regular bird visitors and to say it will be missed. 

---Molly Martin, Brattleboro, VT



West River Trail / Vernon Dam (4/14)

There were lots of sparrows this morning at the Brattleboro Marina/ West River Trail. Song and Savannah were most numerous with 1 Vesper, 1 Field, 2 Swamp, 2 Tree, and 2 Fox in the mix. Also the Red-throated Loon first seen Friday evening was just above Vernon Dam this morning ~ 10:45.



Brattleboro and Environs

I heard the first White-throated Sparrow this morning around my house in town (4/15), and yesterday (Sunday) went along the Connecticut  River from the Wastewater Treatment Plant on down to Vernon Dam. Saw two pairs of Wood Ducks and a group of 3 males, plus Common Mergansers, one Hooded Merganser and two Double-crested Cormorants who had to keep diving to escape an aggressive Canada Goose. There were two Ospreys, one with an animal in its claws (couldn't tell what that was), and another hovering over the water. There were the usual suspects, Red-wing Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Juncos, Robins, 3 Turkeys, Crows, Mourning Doves, etc. And on Saturday after the snow had stopped, dozens and dozens of Robins were tearing through the leaf litter around the yard, under bushes, and chowing down presumably on worms and other tasty tid-bits. It was a feeding frenzy for sure. The big oak tree across the street has been a roost for anywhere from 12 to 20 Turkey Vultures at various times this past week. Lots going on here in Brattleboro near the hospital.

---Mary Lea, Brattleboro, VT



A Walk In Manchester

Today on a walk around the Manchester Recreation Area I observed many sparrows and the return of 10 Tree Swallows; probably the same ones that have nested there year after year.

---.Barbara Powers, Manchester Center, VT    



GRAY FOX © A. Blake


At Chipmunk Crossing (4/15)

We had 3 Common Redpolls visit our feeder today. That is the first since sometime in the Fall of last year. They were in good rosy plumage. “Rusty” the Fox Sparrow is also gracing us with its presence on occasion and has been scratching up a storm at the base of the willow bush..  “Spencer” the Song Sparrow has returned again this year from wherever it winters and will soon find a mate and nesting site in the brush somewhere in the surrounding area. The Phoebe pair has also returned and are fluttering around the ledge above our upstairs window where they have nested for years.  This morning I heard the staccato drumming of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. The lone Gray Fox continues its visit at about dusk each evening to lick up all of the leftover black oil sunflower seed that the male and female Cardinal have missed.  (See photo above)



Vermont Bird Checklist Update

The Vermont Bird Records Committee (VBRC) is pleased to announce the latest
update to the Vermont Bird Checklist (annual update) and the Field Card
(first update since 2009). Both can be found at
We'd like to thank Ted Murin for his time and energy as part of the
checklist committee.
---Kent McFarland






Please share your birding news with us.


What have you got coming to your feeders?


What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT





Monday, April 15, 2013

{BIRD NOTES} ~ April 15, 2013


     American Woodcock



Bird Notes



If you are planning to attend the Audubon’s Birds of America program tomorrow evening (Tuesday, April 16), you will have to enter the library through the street level front door; because the upper doors to the meeting room corridor are being replaced and will be blocked off.




F I E L D   T R I P

Woodcock Watch

Thursday, April 18 @ 7:00pm

Gather at Bob Engel and Mallory Lake’s home in Marlboro to watch the Woodcock’s dance and listen to its song at dusk.  Seven p.m. is a little early for him but we can listen for other early arrivals until he shows.


 Please call Bob  257-4751  for directions and to check on road conditions.

It’s “Mud Season” you know.






Weatherhead Hollow Road

On Wednesday a pair of Rusty Blackbirds spent some time feeding along the edge of a vernal pool near my house.  I used to see them frequently during spring migration and was pleased to see them again.  Later on the same day a pair of beautiful Sapsuckers flew from tree to tree chatting enthusiastically to each other. A lone Killdeer flew

and called over the field, and a Kestrel sat on the wires on Guilford Center Road. (4/12)

---Susan James, Guilford, VT


Ames Hill, Marlboro

We do have a Fox Sparrow or two and they are by all odds the best at kicking snow aside to get to the bare ground.  The Juncos and Song Sparrows just gaze on in awe.

---Bob Engle, Marlboro, VT



Charlestown Floodplains

For those of us on the border with NH - we found a male Eurasian Wigeon hanging out with probably a female American Wigeon, along with a pair of American Wigeon, lots of Green-wing Teal, 2 Gadwall, Snipe, and others in the floodplains on Rte 12 in Charlestown at the farm on the west side of the road just south of great meadows. The whole group flushed and some returned but the wigeons were relocated south of the farm in the marsh that has a nice pull-off for viewing. 

We found them about 10:45am.

---JoAnne Russo, Saxtons River, VT 



Please share your birding news with us.


What have you got coming to your feeders?


What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT




Friday, April 12, 2013

[BIRD NOTES] ~ APRIL 12, 2013

Winter Wren

Bird Notes


Herrick’s Cove (4/9)

Sightings from the cove picnic area were:
Canada Goose  3
Mallard  1
Bufflehead  2 (First Of Year)
Common Merganser  8
Hooded Merganser  4
Pied-billed Grebe  2
Bonaparte's Gull  3 (FOY)
Ring-billed Gull  7
Belted Kingfisher  1
Northern Flicker  1 (FOY)
American Crow  2
Tree Swallow  X
Black capped Chickadee  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  1
Chipping Sparrow  5 (FOY)
Song Sparrow  14
Swamp Sparrow  1 (FOY)
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  4
---Kenneth Cox, South Reading, VT



Larson Road, Wilmington, VT

Wilmington still has snow cover in many places, especially north facing hillsides but Cowbirds,  Starlings, Grackles, Red-wing BB, Song Sparrows, Robins and many more Juncos are around as well as the usuals and our first Fox Sparrow has appeared. Still have the huge flock (100 +) Common Redpolls visiting a couple of times a day.  Waiting for our succession habitat restoration project to give us our first woodcocks but it is still covered in snow.  A Gray Fox passed through and the resident Red Fox has been active. Still no signs of bear though feeders come in at night!! (4/9/13).

---Barbara Cole, Wilmington, VT


Weatherhead Hollow Road

Today in Guilford the Phoebes and Flickers were back, and the Peepers and Woodcocks were singing.  Spring is really here.   Yesterday I picked up The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont, hot-off- the-press. It is the results of the 5 year breeding bird survey, and it is fabulous.

SVAS will donate a copy to the library.

---Susan James, Guilford, VT


Green River Road, Guilford, VT

I just came inside from watching the Woodcocks display in their usual spot across the road from my house. 

---Carol Schnabel, Guilford, VT


Birding Searsburg’s Coniferous Forest

(Al, I have no idea if a Winter Wren is worthy of mention or not, but it was a really neat experience seeing them.  It was a great couple of days.  Boreal-ish coniferous birds are cool.  Long last the snow!)


While everyone else is in the warm valleys looking for spring birds, I've been in the mountains searching out good snow for backwoods skiing.  On Saturday 4/6  in a snowy coniferous forest in Searsburg I flushed a Winter Wren from the edge of a tiny stream of open water.  It landed on a branch and began bobbing up and down, and this little guy reminded me of the actions of a dipper. (1)  Later in the day I saw two more.  Other than a flock of Robins, they were the only birds I saw that day. (2)  On Sunday's ski into the old Flood Dam in Somerset, a Great Blue Heron landed in the meadow, and many small flocks of Golden-crowned Kinglets were singing their "summer" song in the woods.


Last Friday, from my office window overlooking the Connecticut River downtown, I saw a Kestrel (AKA Sparrow Hawk), the first I've ever seen there.

          (1) Imagine my surprise to find that in Sibley's Guide to Bird Behavior, the section on Wrens is immediately followed by Dippers!

          (2) In June of last year Chris Petrak noted in Bird Notes an absence of Winter Wren songs.  It is encouraging to see them this year.

---Jeff Nugent, Brattleboro, VT



An Amazing Journey

OSPREY: “Señor Bones” Arrives at Nantucket

Around 3:30 pm yesterday (4 April) Señor Bones arrived on his nest at Coskata Pond.   Remarkably, this was only about 30 minutes earlier than he arrived home last year on the 4th of April.  However, last year he left his winter home one day after he left there this year.   All things considered, his journey home this year was as direct a route as he could have taken, without any delays along the way.   This was our third year following him back to Nantucket from his winter home 3,100 miles away in Colombia.  In 2011 he made the trip in 14 days (24 March to 6 April), last year in 16 days (20 March to 4 April) and this year in 17 days (19 March to 4 April). He is one unbelievable, soon to be eight-year-old Osprey.


Osprey’s 3,100 mile flight route from Colombia to Nantucket

---Robert S. Kennedy, Ph.D., Nantucket, MA 





Herrick’s Cove

A quick stop at Herrick’s Cove- 2 Blue-winged Teal, 1 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Dunlin and 4 Bonaparte's Gull besides the usual waterfowl – Green-wing Teal, Wigeon, C. Goldeneye, and Bufflehead. (4/12)
---JoAnne Russo, Saxtons River, VT


Visitors at Chipmunk Crossing

The pair of Gray Fox are still making their evening stops to clean up the sunflower seeds that are left over from the seed scattered on the snow for the regular bird crew.  The first to stop by I believe was the male. After a few minutes the second, I’m guessing the female, arrived and stayed for a much shorter period. Here again I am guessing that maybe their den was close by and she could be  tending young. ??? At any rate they are magnificent creatures.

          Today we had two Fox Sparrows, an Eastern Phoebe and a Song Sparrow visit us. All are first of year birds. (4/10)



Spofford Lake, NH

An Osprey sat in the very top of the pine tree that towers over the boat launch. Out on the lake we spotted 2 Common Mergansers, 4 Common Goldeneye, a lone Grackle that was patrolling the beach and hundreds of Tree Swallows skimming the placid waters.  (4/11)



Please share your birding news with us.


What have you got coming to your feeders?


What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT