September 2018
September morning after a storm. Photo: © K.P. McFarland
A Field Guide to September
It can happen almost anywhere. On a cool morning after a storm, for example, when fall warblers drop from their nocturnal migratory flights into your backyard. Or on some summit with Broad-winged Hawks kettling above and insects like Monarchs and Green Darners gliding southward. Or even at night when you step outside and hear a few contact calls high above from songbirds as they migrate southward on the latest cold front. And then one September day, you are finally convinced that summer is indeed over and you embrace autumn. Here is your field guide to life on the move,  and a few other natural history tidbits for September.
"Konza" the Upland Sandpiper, sporting her solar-powered geolocator. We have been following her every move since April 2016. Photo: © R. Renfrew

Live Updates: Tracking Upland Sandpiper Trans-hemispheric Migration

We are currently tracking a free-living Upland Sandpiper. A shorebird that has nothing to do with shores, the Upland Sandpiper is a long-distance migratory bird that breeds in grasslands and travels 6,000 miles to South America each winter. In April 2016, we captured this female sandpiper (we call her "Konza"), graced her with a solar-powered geolocator, and followed her movements ever since. 

Starting from her breeding grounds in the Konza Prairie in Kansas, we will post new maps showing where Konza travels, stops, and overwinters, as an Argos satellite detects and records her location and transmits the data to our computers. Where will Konza spend the winter? As we embark on year three of tracking her moves, we promise to not give out any spoilers.  Learn more about Konza and follow her migratory journey on the VCE Blog!
Primrose Moth (Schinia florida). Photo: © Bryan Pfeiffer

Vermont Naturalists Find Over 370 Species During National Moth Week

Volunteer naturalists from across Vermont uploaded over 1,200 images of moths comprising more than 370 species during
National Moth Week . Held worldwide during the last full week of July, National Moth Week offers everyone, everywhere a unique opportunity to become a citizen scientist and contribute information about moths. Through partnerships with major online biological data depositories, like the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist , participants help map moth distribution and provide needed information on other life history aspects around the globe.

Check out which species were identified in Vermont during Moth Week, and how you can participate in next year's event on our blog. But you don't have to wait until next year to start mothing! We encourage you to add your photographs of moths any time - simply download the app a
from  iNaturalist.org and start taking and submitting photos. It's fun, educational, and seriously addictive!
From left: VCE biologists Rosalind Renfrew, John Lloyd, and Jason Hill. Photo: © K. Bourque

Three VCE Biologists Appointed as Adjunct Faculty at University of Vermont

VCE is pleased to announce the recent appointments of Rosalind Renfrew, John Lloyd, and Jason Hill as adjunct faculty in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. These appointments represent the latest development in a longstanding, collaborative relationship between VCE and the University of Vermont to advance conservation science in Vermont and beyond. Read more on the VCE blog. 
Anders Hanson releases an about-to-be happy loon on Caspian Lake. The loon spent the previous five days stuck on a 100-foot long pond with an inflatable pink Flamingo in East Hardwick, VT. 
Photo: © Eric Hanson

Field Update: Loon Wins and Losses

Every year, some of our returning loons get themselves into "hot water," so to speak. Eric Hanson, VCE's loon biologist, gives us his mid-season good news/bad news update. You'll be surprised to read about the situations some of our loons get themselves into!  Read the report on the VCE blog.
A banded adult Northern Saw-whet Owl takes flight after its release on the Mt. Mansfield ridgeline.
 Photo: © Mike Sargent

Mansfield Wrap: A Crowd-Pleasing Owl and Fall Migration

VCE's final 2018 summer banding session on Mt. Mansfield featured a tiny owl, molting songbirds, and thoughts about the impending fall migration that will take Bicknell's Thrush (and VCE biologists) back to Cuba. Get a glimpse of how our research continues even while the snow flies on Mt. Mansfield in this  last summer field update - which includes captivating video footage of Chris Rimmer's January trip to Sierra Maestra, the highest mountain range in Cuba, in search of wintering thrushes.

VCE friend and dedicated conservationist, Betty Petersen (1943-2013). 
Photo: © Wayne Petersen
BirdsCaribbean Announces the Betty Petersen Conservation Fund to Help Caribbean Birds

We couldn't follow Bicknell's Thrush to its Greater Antillean wintering grounds to continue our full life-cycle conservation efforts without local partner organizations like BirdsCaribbean . Recently, BirdsCarribean launched the Betty Petersen Conservation Fund  to advance the conservation of birds and habitats in the region. Betty was a dear VCE friend, who almost single handedly spearheaded Birders Exchange  and made possible the transfer of much-needed optics and other field gear to VCE's Caribbean partners. Please consider a gift to support this innovative fund , which is sure to benefit projects with lasting impacts to Bicknell's Thrush and other species about which we all care. 

Help prevent bird strikes by making your windows obvious with decals or UV stickers.
(Photo: © Mike Fernandez/Audubon)

Year of the Bird September Action:  Help Migrating Birds

Right now, billions of birds are migrating south to their wintering grounds, flying thousands of miles to their destination. Along the way, they face natural challenges such as wind and weather, and increasingly, even more dangerous and unpredictable challenges created by humans. Whether it be from skyscrapers with invisible windows, endless expanses of concrete replacing forests and meadows, or confusing artificial lights, the number of migrating birds that die every year is estimated to be as many as 1 billion. 

It doesn't have to be this way. If we each do our part to raise awareness and encourage bird-safe buildings, lighting, and development, we can help birds have a safer migration.

Here are three ways you can help migrating birds: 
In 2018, we mark the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most far-reaching and important bird protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, we're joining forces with people from around the globe to celebrate and recommit to protecting birds now and into the future.  Year of the Bird  is twelve months of storytelling, science, and conservation aimed at highlighting the importance of birds and their conservation - we hope you'll join us.
An Endangered Pocketbook filter feeds in the Winooski River. Photo: © K.P. McFarland

It's Easy to Catch up on Outdoor Radio: Every Episode is Online!

Did you miss the August episode of Outdoor Radio? Don't despair - you can find it here, along with photos from the show and even an underwater video of a rare mussel actively filter feeding in the river! 

Have you missed any other episodes? Maybe you'd like to hear one again, or share one with a friend? You can  find them 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 - tune in 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.
Photo-observation of the Month
Pileated Woodpecker Family by Kyle Tansley
PIleated Woodpecker feeding recently fledged young. Click on the image to see the observation and more photos at the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist.

Congratulations to  Kyle Tansley for winning the  August 2018 Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month. The images of a Pileated Woodpecker feeding recently fledged young was the most popular photo-observation.

Assuming the Ivory-billed Woodpecker to be extinct, the Pileated is North America's largest woodpecker. The Pileated has increased in numbers markedly in the last 50 years according to the Breeding Bird Survey and the  Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas. Following the extensive logging of the eastern forests in the 1800s, this bird became quite scarce. The Pileated Woodpecker can most easily be located by the loud calls and drumming that it gives frequently during the spring and early summer. It is a surprisingly silent bird at other times of the year. The hammering it makes when feeding is louder and carries farther than that of other woodpeckers. The presence of Pileated Woodpeckers in an area is often revealed by their distinctive rectangular feeding holes with a pile of fresh chips usually found below.  Check out the live map of sightings at Vermont eBird and submit yours 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