Saturday, April 22, 2017

Raptor Rehabilitation - Shelburne Farms, VT

                                                     Photo Credit: Barbara Mines. Photos below by Maeve Kim.

On a hill in the southern acres of Shelburne Farms is the headquarters of Outreach for Earth Stewardship. This impressive volunteer-based organization was started in 1989 and has been at Shelburne Farms for twenty years. It provides rehabilitation for injured and sick raptors (hawks, falcons, owls, eagles and vultures). Birds that can’t be returned to the wild act as “ambassadors”, going into schools 

and to events around the state to help the human OFES staff promote respect for and understanding about nature. 

May and June are particularly busy with school programs and field trips. Nevertheless, founder Craig Newman found time to meet with an OLLI-UVM class on Saturday 4/15/2017. We had a wonderful time with Craig and his ambassador birds!

Raz  is a raven that was found as a fledgling, starving and with infections in both eyes. Craig had to put drops in the bird’s eyes several times a day, always murmuring “hold still”. Now the bird (who is blind in one eye and has limited vision in the other) will whisper back “hold still”.

Anubis the Turkey Vulture was injured in his first year of life and brought to OFES in 2003 with a wing injury. 
This huge bird (wingspan almost six feet!) has personality and charisma to spare. He grooms and preens Craig’s hair, unties shoe laces, takes barrettes and scarves right off people’s heads, and seems to love being the center of attention.

Carson and Elfric are Eastern Screech Owls, one a red phase bird and one a gray phase bird. 

They were both hit by cars, Carson suffering a broken wing and Elfric ending up without sight or hearing on one side. 

Car-bird collisions are often the reason that owls end up in rehabilitation facilities. Craig said that this past winter has seen an unusual number of injured Barred Owls. 

Some were found starving after the big mid-March snowstorm, which made it hard for owls to locate and catch prey, but most had been hit by cars. When we visited OFES, there were 15 Barred Owls there, all close to being released. Birds that will be released are kept in large cages a short distance from the main building and aren’t shown to visitors or taken out for school visits.

A great chance to meet Raz, Anubis, Carson or Elfric – and possibly others - is Shelburne Farm’s celebration of International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday May 13, 2017. After an early morning bird walk, there will be visits from some of the OFES avian ambassadors from 10:00 to noon.

For more information about Outreach for Earth Stewardship, go to or

                                                                                                Red-tailed Hawk

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Birding @ VT Sandbar State Park, South Hero Marsh Trail: Wilson's Snipe and more


    A bright and beautiful day @ the Vermont Sandbar State Park  brought us encounters with Wilson's Snipe, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Bufflehead, Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey, Ring-billed gull, Downy woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, House Finch, Great Blue Heron.   

                                                                          Osprey with a fish. 

                                                                                      Wilson's Snipe 

South Hero Marsh Trail: Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Ringed-neck Duck, Wild Turkey, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Killdeer, Morning Dove, Downy, Hairy woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Crow, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Brown Creeper, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, American Robin, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, American Goldfinch. And numerous Morning Cloak fly overs.


   Just under the power lines we heard some rustling noises in the bushes. I walked a bit ahead while Maeve pished. (Pish is an imitated bird alarm call used by birders to attract birds.) 

    And out of the brush flew a turkey. I think Maeve brought pishing to a new level. 

                                                                                      Northern Flicker 


               When they separated we counted five heads.

The Hawk has landed @ Jericho VT

Cooper's Hawk images as seen through a kitchen window 8:39 through 8:45 AM on April 13, 2017, Jericho, Vermont. 

We were thinking of birding at South Hero Marsh Trail this morning when this Cooper's Hawk reminded us that great birding can often be had at home with coffee in hand - looking out the window into the backyard. 

  Identification can be tricky between Cooper's Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk. National Geographic states Cooper's has stronger contrast between back and crown(crown darker than back), undertail coverts entirely white. (My guess is this is a Cooper's).

                                                        Raptor claws


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hummingbirds - Feeding and Photos

Tips for Having Hummingbirds as Regular Visitors to Your Yard

There are many natural feeders, that draw in hummingbirds: Jewelweed, hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, bee balm, petunia, azalea, foxglove, morning glory, hollyhock, columbine, delphinium, foxglove, blazing star, daylily, coral bells, hosta, garden phlox, cardinal flower, fuchsia, and nasturtium. Native plants are best.

Also consider providing water for hummingbirds to take a bath to clean their wings. ~Bernie

When placing a feeder out for Hummingbirds: 
Start early. Have at least one nectar feeder filled and in an easily noticed
location by the last week of April – even earlier if the weather is nice.
Catch the attention of migrants.

Put at least one feeder (preferably with some bright red on it) in the
middle of your yard, in a place where it will be in sunlight for at
least some of the day. Once migrating birds notice it and are coming
regularly, you can move the feeder to a more convenient spot. You
can also expect birds to look around and notice the prettier feeder
you have hanging close to the house.
Once you’ve attracted hummingbirds, keep them coming by cleaning and refilling feeders regularly: once a week in cool weather, more frequently if it’s hot. Most times, rinsing with hot water and a bottle brush will be sufficient. If there’s a lot of dark mold, you may have to use a very weak bleach solution; in this case, rinse very well. Don’t use dish detergent.

To make hummingbird nectar, combine 4 parts water to 1 part white
sugar. Don’t use honey and don’t add food coloring. Boil the nectar 2
minutes and let cool. Store in refrigerator.

Resource links:
Hummingbirds In Your Garden (UVM)
Plants That Attract Hummingbirds to the Garden
Backyard Wildlife Habitat in Vermont