Expanding Voices: perspectives on birding | 2021 community art show

Watercolor painting (excerpt): shows a white woman in a yellow shirt looking upward through binoculars. The point-of-view is from above, so only her head and arms are clear.

Our 2021 art show, Expanding Voices, explores and reflects the past year. Visual arts, poetry, 3D, and prose pieces capture the variety of solitudes, connections, race issues, changes and changelessness, new skills, and understandings we  experienced in 2020.

Forty artists, photographers, writers,  and poets had their work selected for this year’s show. They range from under 10 to over 80 and speak from their varied experiences of birding, the pandemic, faith, and social issues.

Visitors are invited to explore the visual and written art at their own pace, to be inspired, to ask questions, and to browse through the book of artists’ statements.

Show runs through October • Included with Museum admission

Many of the originals are for sale, and several artists have prints, cards, and other items available in our gift shop.

About the theme “Expanding Voices: perspectives on birding”

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Open for drop-in visitors, 2021

We are happy to tell you that the Museum opened again for drop-in visiting on May 1!

As we did last year, the Museum building will be open Wednesday through Sunday. Our hours are 10am -4pm. We are limiting the number of people in the building to 12, and we are requiring masks that cover noses and mouths. We have kept some of our touchable and interactive items put away.

If all goes well with vaccinations up and case counts down, and all of us doing our part with distances, careful interactions, managing masks and how frequently we get together, we anticipate being able to expand further. We are certainly looking forward to our events this year! Continue reading “Open for drop-in visitors, 2021”

Through the Window: March 2021

White-breasted nuthatch in profile, upside-down but head lifted, on a half-empty suet cage.
White-breasted nuthatch on suet, March 2011, Birds of Vermont Museum. Photo taken through window.

We had rather a good number of visitors (by appointment) as we worked away on the behind-the-scenes things we do (preparing for opening in spring, if all goes well). One of our month’s highlights wasn’t birds at all, but lady beetles! You can read more about them here: https://birdsofvermont.org/2021/03/12/lady-beetles-in-vermont-j-pupko/

But back to birds… quite the exciting mix!

Continue reading “Through the Window: March 2021”

Lady Beetles in Vermont

Polished Lady Beetle (Cycloneda munda)_Nathaniel Sharp

Guest post by Julia Pupko of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies

What do you think of when you imagine a ladybug (aka lady beetle)? Is it red with black spots? For years, this was the only image that came to mind when I thought about lady beetles. Furthermore, I had no idea how many different lady beetle species exist, and that the only species I was familiar with was the invasive Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis)–the species that commonly congregates in people’s homes during winter. In Vermont alone, there are 42 recorded species of lady beetle (35 native and 7 introduced), and we are still discovering species that have not been previously recorded.

Check out our webinar on this topic!

Lady beetles come in different sizes, colors, and shapes, ranging from just fractions of a centimeter to nearly a centimeter in length. Some are black with red spots, others are the classic red with black spots, some are orange, yellow, or brown, and some have bars instead of spots or no spots at all. These beetles can be found in all types of habitats, from fields, to forests, shrubland, and swamps, to the garden in your backyard!

Despite differences in appearance and habitat preference, many lady beetles share an important feature: they act as a biological pest control, munching down aphids, plant mites, scale insects, and other soft-bodied pests. Native lady beetles have evolved alongside native pest species, and many synchronize their life cycles to align with their pest of choice. For example, both Hudsonian Ladybirds (Mulsantina hudsonica) and Eye-spotted Lady Beetles (Anatis mali) have evolved to synchronize their life cycles with that of the Balsam Twig Aphid (Mindarus abietinus). This means that the lady beetle larvae are growing when aphid populations are at their peak, giving the beetles an increased chance of survival. Balsam Fir trees also benefit, as the growing lady beetles reduce the pest load on the trees. Other native lady beetle species have begun to associate with invasive pests, like the Twice-stabbed Lady Beetle (Chilocorus stigma) and Beech Bark Scale insects, helping to reduce invasive pest loads on infected trees.

However, many native lady beetle species populations across the country are in decline. These declines are thought to be caused by the introduction of non-native lady beetle species, such as the Asian Lady Beetle, land use change, introduced pathogens, and pesticide use. Introduced lady beetles often grow faster than native lady beetle species, outcompeting them for habitat and food, while also consuming native lady beetle larvae. This may result in pest outbreaks in the future, as some studies indicate that native lady beetle species hunt certain native pests more effectively than introduced lady beetle species, and therefore provide better pest control of these insects.

Vermont appears to be experiencing native lady beetle declines as well. Currently, 12 of Vermont’s native lady beetle species have not been seen in over 40 years. That said, the last full survey of Vermont’s lady beetle fauna was completed in 1976. We don’t know if these 12 missing species have been extirpated or still exist in low numbers, and as well we don’t know what conservation measures may be needed to support potentially-declining native lady beetle populations in Vermont. To answer these questions, the Vermont Atlas of Life team at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies started the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas. We are calling on volunteer naturalists across the state to join us in our search, which will increase the chances of finding these beetles. Already, volunteer naturalists have rediscovered four of Vermont’s lost lady beetle species, recorded three new species, and doubled the number of research-grade,  lady beetle observations uploaded to iNaturalist in our pilot year.

If you would like to help in our lady beetle quest, simply install the free  iNaturalist app to your phone (or camera and internet-connected device of choice) and upload pictures of any lady beetle you encounter to the site! Visit the Vermont Lady Beetle Atlas website to find out more ways to get involved and learn more about these fascinating beetles.

Through the Window: January 2021

Black-capped Chickadee and Dark-eyed Junco in winter. The Chickadee is perched on a half-fallen dried goldenrod stem on the left; the Junco is underneath he stem on the right. There are some forsythia stems in the background and snow covers the ground. Digiscoped iPhone photo by K. Talmage and used by permission.
Black-capped Chickadee and Dark-eyed Junco in winter. Digiscoped iPhone photo by K. Talmage and used by permission.

One thing we love about January is the potential for surprises. Irruptions, mutli-species flocks, or interesting marks in the snow can all happen. Which bird might we get to see this month? Will we be lucky enough to see it from the window? Will there be many? Which ones would we expect and not see after all?  Each possibility is a delight.

Seen from our Windows in January

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Call to Artists: Expanding Voices

Text: Expanding voices: perspectives on birding / Background: rose-sepia toned image of paintbrush tips against foliage and sky

Expanding Voices

perspectives on birding

A Call to Artists from the Birds of Vermont Museum
The year 2020 asked a lot of us—and taught us even more. As our habitual systems hit rock bottom under the weight of the pandemic, economic hardship, and social injustice, voices rose, and long-time institutions were loudly questioned. New ways of experiencing and perceiving our world opened our minds to new comprehension. How could our art, our creativity, our practices remain unaffected? Our perspectives inevitably changed.

We are a museum about and for birds and conservation. We are part of a community of birders, artists, conservationists, and learners. Your experience and perspective may be unseen or unknown to someone else, even in the same community. For 2021, we’d like to hear and share your artistic voice.

What perspectives exist for birds, birding, and conservation, and the possibilities these offer? We seek works that explore many viewpoints for our 2021 art exhibit, Expanding Voices: perspectives on birding. Continue reading “Call to Artists: Expanding Voices”