eNews | October 2020
Autumn snow on Mount Mansfield, Vermont © K.P. McFarland
A Field Guide to October
October is a month of change. The forested hills fade from green to a kaleidoscope of red and gold that dazzles the eyes. Here’s your field guide to some moments that you might not otherwise notice during these few precious weeks that feature colorful hills beneath a deep blue sky, with calls of migrating geese high overhead and the last Monarchs gliding silently southward. There's more going on this month than meets the eye - read on to find out more.
Mansfield Wrap-up:
Bountiful Migrants and a Venerable Thrush
Avery Fish with a bounty of netted birds awaiting processing on the VCE avian “clothesline”, Mt. Mansfield, 18 September 2020. © Michael Sargent
Avery Fish with a bounty of netted birds awaiting processing on the VCE avian “clothesline,” Mt. Mansfield, 18 September 2020. © Michael Sargent
VCE’s 2020 wrap-up banding session on Mt. Mansfield—our tenth visit of the season—may have been our most memorable. It yielded an impressive diversity of birds, including our first-ever Western Palm Warbler and a truly venerable 10 year-old Bicknell’s Thrush. Our annual mid-September visit to VCE’s long-term ridgeline study site has become a rite of passage, as we witness the resurgence of activity by Bicknell’s Thrush just before the species’ southward departure and intercept an eclectic mix of transients. This year did not disappoint. Read Chris Rimmer's blog to find out why!
Loon Departure Times
Common Loon in flight © Jeff Nadler
Those lucky enough to still be spending time on their favorite Vermont lakes may have noticed the disappearance of their resident adult loons, even with chicks still around. When do loons take to the skies for their salt-water wintering grounds? It turns out that the answer depends on the individual loon. VCE biologist Eric Hanson summarizes the findings of a few research studies on loon migration behavior on the VCE blog–read on to learn more.
VCE Welcomes Two New
ECO Americorps Members
ECO Americorps members Pete Kerby-Miller and Julia Pupko enjoy a socially-distanced lunch break on their first VCE staff outing on the Ompompanoosuc River. © Karen Bourque
Join us in welcoming Pete Kerby-Miller and Julia Pupko to the VCE family! Pete and Julia are our newest ECO Americorps members who will serve with VCE (and no doubt teach us all a thing or two) over the next year.

Pete joins VCE as the Mountain Ecology Technician, focusing on broadening participation in our mountain ecology programs–from piloting studies of different taxonomic foci to inviting community naturalist input in the planning and analysis of existing programs. If you have insight or enthusiasm for the study of mountain communities, please reach out to Pete.

Julia will serve as VCE's new Citizen Science Outreach Naturalist, connecting with Vermonters interested in contributing to various community science projects, such as the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas, with a specific focus on the use of iNaturalist, Vermont eBird, and eButterfly. Have a question about the natural world? Ask Julia!
Vermont Loon Conservation Project
Takes the Next Step
Exam room on the porch of the Loon Preservation Committee headquarters in NH. From L to R, Eric Hanson (VCE), Brent Lundborg (VINS), Dr. Sarah Spindell (Bridgeton Vet Hospital), and LPC seasonal biologist. © Caroline Hughes.
Every summer, the Vermont Loon Conservation Project (VLCP) attempts to physically collect all reported dead loons to try to figure out what happened to each and every one (see this summer’s Loon Caller for a summary of Vermont’s mortality records over the past 30 years). The birds are frozen and delivered to Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine Wildlife Medicine Program Loon Health and Mortality project, where Dr. Mark Pokras has led the charge in understanding the reasons loons die. Over the years, this system has yielded invaluable information, but proven to be logistically challenging and expensive.

Now, VLCP personnel are going to begin performing their own necropsies–which is why VCE biologist Eric Hanson found himself in a crash course on loon anatomy with the Loon Preservation Committee in New Hampshire earlier this summer. Visit the VCE blog to get the scoop.
Round Up at the Register at Co-op Food Stores for VCE in October
Attention Upper Valley residents (and those who often wander through): VCE is excited to announce that we have been selected as one of the four "community partner" beneficiaries of the Co-op Food Store's Pennies for Change community giving program for the month of October!

Indulge your love for healthful food and support VCE at the same time by shopping at the Hanover, Lebanon or White River Junction Co-op Food Stores this month. This innovative charitable giving program encourages customers to donate their change to designated monthly community partners by rounding up to the next full dollar amount at check-out. At month's end, VCE will receive 10% of the total donations collected through Co-op shoppers' generosity.

So, grab your reusable shopping bags, stock your shelves with great food, and support VCE in the process.
Outdoor Radio:
Listen to Over 50 Episodes Online
You never know where you'll find Kent and Sara next...
Feed your inner naturalist and take your mind on a trip to the great outdoors with Outdoor Radio. Choose from over 50 episodes online, with topics ranging from birds to bats and beavers to peepers. Outdoor Radio is entertaining and educationalperfect for the whole family! You can find the episodes on our web page accompanied by photos and interesting links for more information, or you can listen to our podcast on iTunes

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 fishanything 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
Shaggy Mane by Tom Norton
Shaggy Mane © Tom Norton (iNaturalist) licensed under CC-BY-NC
Congratulations to Tom Norton for winning the September 2020 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. His image of Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus) captured the most votes from other iNaturalists. Some of you may recognize Tom from his help in identifying your observations. Amazingly, he’s made 293,706 identifications in iNaturalist, helping observations reach "research grade."

Shaggy Mane tends to spring up after rainy autumn days and is easily identified by the shaggy appearance. It undergoes a startling transition in late fall in an effort to distribute its spores. Learn more about this fascinating fungus, including how it uses "deliquescence" to reproduce, on our blog.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist, 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 discoveriesand 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