January 2019
The Green Mountains washed in winter blue light at dawn. / © K.P. McFarland

A Field Guide to January
Although days are slowly lengthening, life in the Northeast now finds itself in the coldest depths of winter. January is about survival. Wildlife that doesn't migrate adapts instead in order to make it to spring. Visit the VCE blog for your Field Guide to January, where you'll find a few tidbits of natural history that are happening outdoors around you this month. 
Common Green Darner _ _ Josh Lincoln
Common Green Darner / © Josh Lincoln

Move over Monarchs: VCE and Colleagues Reveal 
Astonishing Dragonfly Migration
The familiar aerial parade of orange and black Monarch butterflies fluttering southward across North America each fall has drawn attention to the tremendous distances this seemingly fragile species migrates. Migration patterns of other insects, however, remain more mysterious, for both the public and scientists alike. Now, a  new paper by VCE researchers and colleagues published in  Biology Letters  describes the full life cycle of a familiar dragonfly, the Common Green Darner, including an astonishing multi-generational migration of over 600 km (373 miles) on average, with some individuals covering more than 2,500 km (1,553 miles).  Read about it on the VCE blog.
A Yellow-banded Bumble Bee _Bombus terricola_ nectaring Joe-pye Weed. _ _ K.P. McFarland
A Yellow-banded Bumble Bee (Bombus terricola) nectaring Joe-pye Weed. / © K.P. McFarland

Striking Decline in Vermont's Bumble Bees

A new study published in the  Journal of Insect Conservation examining 100 years of bumble bee records reveals that almost half of Vermont's species, which are vital pollinators, have either vanished or are in serious decline. Four of Vermont's 17 bumble bee species appear to have gone extinct.

The study, led by researchers from VCE and the University of Vermont, was made possible in large part by the contributions of more than 50 trained citizen scientists. Over a three-year period, volunteers searched the entire state for bumble bees and amassed a database exceeding 10,000 individual bumble bee encounters from all of Vermont's counties and biophysical regions, and in 81% of the state's 255 municipalities.

Thankfully, it's not  all bad news. Researchers found that some species have increased, and that the Common Eastern Bumble Bee appears to be expanding its range.
Verified lady beetle species shared with the Vermont Atlas of Life at iNaturalist.

Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist Builds 
Biodiversity  Big Data in 2018

What a year it was for citizen science (and ultimately, nature) in 2018! We surpassed 250,000 observations on the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist; nearly 2,400 naturalists contributed almost 72,000 observations representing > 3,100 verified species; and more than 1,940 naturalists helped to identify and verify observations, turning a mountain of hard work into research grade data. 

Read more highlights and explore links to images and data with this recap of 2018's biodiversity data bonanza on our website!
Cover photo / © Steve Faccio
Fall 2018 Field Notes Online 

You can find our fall 2018 Field Notes, along with previous editions, on our website . Our  biannual news magazine offers in-depth summaries of our field work, science, and conservation efforts, along with news and views from behind the scenes here at VCE.

In this edition, you'll explore the wide-ranging ecological effects of invasive Emerald Ash Borer on our forests, get wrapped up in the intrigue of an international avian mystery, catch up on the latest loon news, meet our 2018 Julie Nicholson Citizen Scientist awardee, and more. 
New Option for Online Donations
We recently added an option to our online donation page: you can now choose to  add 3% of your donation to cover the Network for Good processing fee, thus directing 100% of your intended gift toward VCE's work.
Look for this new giving option at the bottom of our  Donate Now page. We sincerely thank you for your support!
A female Pine Grosbeak feeds on crab apples. _ _ Nathaniel Sharp
A female Pine Grosbeak feeds on crab apples. / © Nathaniel Sharp
Outdoor Radio: Pine Grosbeak Irruption 
In this month's episode of Outdoor Radio , biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra visit the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier, Vermont, with Nathaniel Sharp, VCE's ECO AmeriCorps naturalist. Together, they scan the tops of crab apple trees searching for Pine Grosbeaks, a "crown jewel" for winter bird enthusiasts. Winter finch irruptions don't happen every year, but when fruit and seeds are sparse in northern boreal forests, finches will often migrate south. Listen to the show and learn more about these irruptions from the north on our website!

VCE and  Vermont Public Radio  unite the sounds and science of nature in our monthly feature aired on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6:20 PM, and again on Thursday at 7:50 AM. Frogs and ferns, finches and fish - anything is fair game for co-hosts Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra. Join us to explore and uncover some of the mysteries of our natural world.
Barred Owl with a rodent in its bill
Barred Owl with a rodent in its bill / © Kyle Tansley

Photo-observation of the Month
Barred Owl with a rodent in its bill by Kyle Tansley

Congratulations to Kyle Tansley for winning the December 2018 Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month. The image of a Barred Owl with a rodent in its bill was the most popular photo-observation.

The Barred Owl is Vermont's most common owl. The Second Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas found the species had increased by 36% compared to the first atlas. Barred Owls eat many kinds of small animals, including squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, rabbits, birds (up to the size of grouse), amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. They hunt by sitting and waiting on an elevated perch, while scanning all around for prey with their sharp eyes and ears. They are very vocal and will frequently call during the day. Both males and females give the distinctive call, with the male's deeper voice distinguishable in duets; the call can be translated as "Who cooks for you?" "Who cooks for you-all?" A variety of shorter calls, squeaks, and grunts are given too.

Visit iNaturalist Vermont, and you can vote for the winner this month by clicking 'fav' on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

The Vermont Center for Ecostudies promotes wildlife conservation across the Americas using the combined strength of scientific research and citizen engagement. Find us online at: www.vtecostudies.org