eNews | June 2020
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) / © K.P. McFarland
A Field Guide to June
Here in Vermont, we dream of June during the darkest winter days. Verdant hillsides glowing brightly under a robin egg sky. Lounging by the clear waters of a cold river in warm afternoon breezes. Awakening to bird chorus each morning. The smell of freshly cut grass wafting through the window. Butterflies skipping from one flower to the next. We forget about clouds of blackflies, the hum of mosquitoes, and rainy days. June is a dream here. Its days last forever. Here are just a few of the natural history wonders for the month .
Backyard Lady Beetle Blitz
Pays Off with Rediscovery of Lost Species
This lady beetle species was last reported in Vermont in 1976. / © Spencer Hardy
On May 15th, VCE's weekend-long Vermont Backyard Lady Beetle Blitz had just kicked off. VCE biologist Spencer Hardy was positioned on Snake Mountain with net in hand scouring a patch of blooming toothwort for a specialist bee—the Mustard Miner Bee ( Andrena arabis )—and searching for lady beetles. “I swung at a bee and had it in the net briefly before it escaped; then I noticed a tiny black and red beetle just sitting on my net,” said Hardy. Not recognizing the lady beetle species right away, he scooped it into a vial to examine later, and continued his search for bees and beetles. Only later when he examined the beetle closely did he realize he was holding one of Vermont’s lost lady beetles. Read about Spencer's discovery on the VCE blog!
VCE Staff "Bird in Place" for
Backyard Bird Quest 2020
Shown here, a handful of VCE's BBQ2020 birding team, the Green Mountain Goatsuckers,
birding their own patches.
VCE's annual Birdathon took on a new form this spring, as the Green Mountain Goatsuckers "birded in place" for Backyard Bird Quest 2020 . Sallying forth individually from our home bases, we collectively found 134 species during the day, raising crucial funds for VCE's wildlife conservation work. But Vermont birders writ large were the real superstars of the day—a phenomenal statewide response of 305 birders submitted a single-day record 724 Vermont eBird checklists and tallied 178 species across the state, including Vermont’s first-ever King Rail !

Visit VCE's blog for a recap of the day , and the Backyard Bird Quest 2020 stats page for a list of all species found in Vermont, and the list of species tallied by Backyard Bird Questers outside Vermont.
Got Land?
Consider Becoming a VCE Grassland Ambassador
Bobolink / © Charles Gangas
If you own at least 10 acres of open field, pasture, or meadow, please consider joining VCE's Grassland Ambassador program and becoming a grassland bird conservationist. Managing your property for grassland birds in Vermont presents an opportunity to conserve both our agricultural and ecological heritage. VCE's Grassland Ambassadors program works with farmers and owners of grassland habitats to find a pragmatic balance between human and avian needs. Contact VCE's Grassland Ambassador coordinator, Kevin Tolan, at grasslands@vtecostudies.org to learn more.
First Round Winners of Vermont Atlas of Life Observation Contest for K-6 Graders
VCE is pleased to announce the first two winners of the Vermont Atlas of Life Observation Contest for students! Submissions will be reviewed every two weeks through June 19, and we will share the top submissions on VCE's social media channels. Students, parents, and teachers can find the submission materials and details at https://val.vtecostudies.org/events/vermont-atlas-of-life-observation-contest/ .
Congratulations to our first Vermont Atlas of Life Observation Contest winner! Warren from South Strafford submitted his observation of a Flying Salamander. This species overwinters in Vermont caves and migrates through forests to backyard ponds fed by hot springs. It is most active at dusk, prefers sandy soil, and feeds on microscopic organisms, including fungus. The Flying Salamander’s main predators are Rainbow Trout and all native birds of prey except for Great Horned Owls, who have an allergy to its skin. When threatened, the Flying Salamander uses its thin, translucent wings (like bat wings) to fly away. It's a very fast flyer and can take off from the water like a Common Loon. Wow—what a cool animal!
Congratulations to our second Vermont Atlas of Life Observation Contest winner! Gus from Norwich submitted an observation of the Dinothicus. A predominantly nocturnal species, the Dinothicus is a year-round resident in the Northeast. The Dinothicus is well-adapted to the changing colors of the season here in Vermont as it can change colors to blend into its surroundings. By consuming a diet of human garbage the Dinothicus helps restore degraded habitats and improves them for a host of other species. Thanks, Gus, for this awesome observation!
Make it Monthly
Moose / © K.P. Mcfarland
Make no moosetake: m onthly recurring contributions are a terrific way to simplify your giving and help keep VCE's conservation wheels turning!

For the cost of that latte you don't stop for on your commute, you can have the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting VCE’s wildlife conservation work throughout the entire year. A modest monthly contribution $5 or $10 per month could be relatively painless for your bank account, but make a huge impact for VCE. Many of our recurring gift donors say that giving a smaller gift every month allows them to give more than they could in a lump sum.

For VCE, having steady, predictable cash flow is now more important than ever. Please consider converting your gift to a monthly recurring contribution, and visit VCE's online donation page to set it up. However you choose to contribute, please know that we deeply appreciate your support for VCE and your commitment to wildlife conservation. Thank you very much!
Bees of the Northeast
An Online Course with North Branch Nature Center
Ligated Furrow Bee / © K.P. McFarland
With over 300 species in Vermont, bees play a far greater ecological role than providing honey for us humans . This course will introduce you to the mind-blowing diversity of shapes, sizes, and life histories of bees found in almost any habitat. While most species can only be identified through a microscope, we will focus on the species and groups that are relatively distinctive to the naked eye. By the end of the course, participants should be able to identify most bees to the genus level, which is certainly not a common skill! Guided field challenges will be based on currently active flowers and bees. With so little known about the distribution of some of these species, it's definitely possible for you to find new state records right in your own backyard!

P ursue your naturalist education in a virtual format this spring and summer with North Branch Nature Center's "Nature Now" online course series. Each course, taught by an expert biologist or naturalist, combines online lectures and readings with your own independent study outdoors.
Outdoor Radio - Coming in June:
Discovering Biodiversity in Your Backyard
In the latest episode of Outdoor Radio (scheduled to air in June), Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra meet at VCE headquarters in Norwich to uncover some of the amazing biodiversity treasures found in an average backyard. They'll use iNaturalist to help identify, track and share their discoveries . Listen in to learn what they find and how you, too, can discover the surprisingly rich biodiversity in your own backyards.

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 . You can also listen to every episode online on VCE's website ! 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.
Photo-observation of the Month
American Mink
by Kyle Tansley
American Mink / © Kyle Tansley (iNaturalist) licensed under CC-BY-NC
Congratulation to Kyle Tansley for winning the May 2020 Photo-observation of the Month . He captured this image of an American Mink moving her kits from one den to another. “She was moving her babies from one den to another,” wrote Kyle. “When I arrived, I was told she had already moved two. I saw her move two more.” Learn more about the life history of this fascinating species and see the runners-up in last month's photo competition on our blog .

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNa turalist,  where 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:  vtecostudies.org