Birds of the Galapagos

On a recent Saturday evening, Shirley Johnson, president of the Birds of Vermont Museum’s Board of Directors and world birder, presented a slideshow chronicling her early winter 2011 week touring the Galapagos Islands. The audience visually explored this austere collection of islands off the western coast of South America while listening to Shirley’s excitement over each find along the way.

Volcanic in origin,and undiscovered until 1535, the islands offer a spartan lifestyle which nevertheless supports a diverse array of birds and land animals. Cooled by the Humboldt Current coursing northward from the Antarctic and swept by the Panama Current flowing south from Central America, the Galapagos waters are cold enough to attract the Galapagos Penguin and sea lions, despite the islands’ proximity to the Equator.

Shirley’s narrative complemented her generous slideshow of the birds, which are endemic to the islands- meaning confined and unique to a particular location. Charles Darwin”s research from the early 1800s focused on this defining quality which led to his work on the Theory of Evolution through Natural Selection. Birds introduced to us through images and anecdotes included the Magnificent Frigate Bird– its inflated, red chest-pouch signaling its status as a breeding male; the thieving Red-footed Booby who stole rocks from his neighbor’s nest site for display in his own construction; the Flightless Cormorant whose wings are 1/3 the size needed for flight but are not necessary for a bird with abundant marine food sources and no predators. Also, the Blue-footed Booby, Waved Albatross, and Galapagos Hawk inhabit the islands as well as Darwin’s Finches, Giant Tortoises, and Land Iguanas.

This armchair trip took us to a very different world and we are indebted to Shirley for making the journey so pleasurable. Shirley will be presenting this program again at the Shelburne Library for the Green Mountain Audubon Society at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28th. Please call the library for further details.

Dick Allen, Contributing Carver

Dick Allen at work
Dick Allen at work on a new carving for the Museum

Dick Allen has always been fascinated by birds and started carving about 25 years ago. He is self-taught through books and carving magazines, with “lots of trial and error”. His carvings have been given to friends and family; some have been donated to charity. Many are on display in his home.

Dick considers himself an advanced amateur, and greatly admires Bob Spears’ work. “Bob is a master carver,” Dick says. About his own carvings, he adds, “I’m still waiting for one I consider ‘really good.’ ”

About Dick

In addition to carving for the Museum’s exhibits, Dick serves on the Board of Trustees, and volunteers for the Museum. His work is much appreciated.

To see more photos of Dick’s work, check out his page on our website:

Northeast Delta Dental Sponsors our Newsletter

Many thanks to Northeast Delta Dental for their recent generous donation. Since 2005, they have helped the Birds of Vermont Museum by supporting our thrice-yearly newsletter.

Jeff Landa of Northeast Delta Dental, presents their support
Jeff Landa, of Northeast Delta Dental, presents a check to support our newsletter, Chip Notes.

Jeffrey Landa, a former Board of Trustees member and Board President who also serves on the Museum Advisory Board, dropped by last week to bring us this good news. Shirley Johnson, President of the Board of Trustees, and Erin Talmage, Executive Director, were here to accept it.

We will use these funds to cover printing and mailing costs of Chip Notes. Older editions are made available online as PDF files; if you would like to receive current ones by mail, become a member!