Amazing Odonates: Dragonflies and Damselflies!

Girl in white hate examinging insects in her net

[ originally scheduled for April; postponed to August ]

Did you know that many of the larger dragonflies are several years old before they crawl up for air, break out of their “skins”, expand their wings and venture out on their first flight? Amazing!

This show-and-tell evening with Naturalist Laurie DiCesare will feature photos, samples, and hand-outs of “dragons and damsels”:

  • exploring their early life as underwater predators
  • revealing strange and remarkable habits, and
  • identifying their beautiful and diverse habitats

— all flavored with a bit of biology and dash of folklore!

Learn how to swing a cone net; carefully retrieve and hold the Odes for photo ops; then safely release them.

Register with Birds of Vermont Museum at or call 802-434-2167.

$8/per person, $25 for a family
Minimum 9 people, Maximum 35


Annual Butterfly and Bug Walk

dragonfly on corner of a brick, observed at the Birds of Vermont Museum by Erin Talmage

Experience Vermont’s butterflies and insects up close!

Join Vermont Entomological Society naturalists and entomologists for an exploratory stroll on the Birds of Vermont Museum grounds. Bring binoculars, magnifying glass, and an insect net if you have one. Pack a lunch if you would like to picnic after the walk.

If it is raining on the day of the walk, please call the Museum (802 434-2167) to see if we have rescheduled.

Terrific for anyone interested in Vermont’s six-legged creatures.
Free! (Donations welcome)

Check out the Vermont Entomological Society site — gorgeous photos and information about the Society. may have updates

Museum Open for Great Backyard Bird Count

Great Backyard Bird Count 2020: poster

Visit us February 15th, 2020,  to see what birds we’re counting for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

  • Learn to ID birds — what do we look / listen for?
  • Go birding with a friend — twice the fun
  • Find out more about –and record observations for–this great citizen science project!

We’re open from 10-3 on Saturday for the GBBC
Members admission: Free!  • Regular Museum admission is $7 adults, discounts for kids and seniors

About the GBBC:

Friday – Monday,  February 14 – 17, 2020 • All Over the World

From the Great Backyard Bird Count website:

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

For more info:

Call to Artists: Borders

Borders: illusions that constrain us [a call to artists]


illusions that constrain us

A Call to Artists from the Birds of Vermont Museum

What borders do birds encounter? Our maps do not typically reflect the territories they perceive, the ranges they travel, or the barriers they comes across. How do birds’ boundaries connect to human borders? To those of other species? Edges of things—physically, spatially, temporally— raise questions, not least of which is “Is it really there?”

We ponder this, wondering, how do and will these encounters and connections alter us, birds, and the borders themselves?

We seek works that share visions of birds, borders, and boundaries, now and into the future, for our 2020 art exhibit, Borders.

Continue reading “Call to Artists: Borders”

Grow Where You’re Planted (for NEMA Conference attendees)

Hummingbird and eggs carved by Bob Spear, and real nest.

Grow Where You’re Planted: engaging art and science in conservation

Just for NEMA conference-goers!

Visit the Birds of Vermont Museum for

  • A slightly-guided exploration of the Museum and its nearest grounds
  • A See it, Sketch It program, blending art with scientific observations
  • A conversation about how art and science approaches connect both individual perspectives and common needs

The Birds of Vermont Museum integrates elements of one man’s vision into a whole that highlights art, science, and conservation. Join us this afternoon to discover what we offer, build your own art-science practice, and discuss how these approaches together grow a conservation ethic.


Call to Artists: Pollinate This!

Pollinate This!

art inspiring seeds of conservation

A Call to Artists from the Birds of Vermont Museum

We wander in gardens, foster habitats, explore ecosystems. Life buzzes, entwines, fosters, interacts—one species to another and another and another. Birds and insects and plants thrive together. Can we pause, notice? Can we let the outside in, become as intimately connected to the world around as a pollinated plant is to its pollinators?

We seek artworks that explore, examine, and express pollination—metaphorical and otherwise—for our 2019 art exhibit, Pollinate This!

Continue reading “Call to Artists: Pollinate This!”

What do you know about coffee certification?

Some of us coffee-drinkers are pretty well steeped into knowing everything we can about the beverage and its effects on the world. Most of us are happy just to have some coffee. Where do you fall in this spectrum?

We’re up at the Feverish World Symposium this weekend, with a pop-up exhibit called How Do You Take Your Coffee? Come check it out—ask questions, take a pledge, and learn something about migratory birds and different types of coffee agriculture. Stimulate your curiosity! Continue reading “What do you know about coffee certification?”

Call to Artists: Common Grounds

 Common Grounds

A Call to Artists from the Birds of Vermont Museum
in recognition of 100 years of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and its conservation consequences

Birds link us.  We need the same things: food, water, air, places to live. We humans have sometimes used laws to protect those needs we have in common. In 1918, the US Congress put into place the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—one of the first laws setting limits on what we could and could not do specifically with respect to migratory birds. Since then, we’ve asked new questions, discovered new ramifications, and come to new understandings about what the work of conservation entails. In order for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to be successful, people have to work together across geographic, political, socioeconomic, and ecological boundaries. We need to find—or create—common ground. What does that look like? Continue reading “Call to Artists: Common Grounds”

Little Guy: Colo on the Maine Coast

Guest post by our friend and expert birder, AW.

COLO 1740 starts the next stage of life on Penobscot Bay on the Maine coast. / © Terry Heitz
COLO 1740 starts the next stage of life on Penobscot Bay on the Maine coast. / © Terry Heitz

What is your favorite bird? Perhaps there can be no answer. Birding is a passion, encompassing all species, with opportunities to appreciate many behaviors and much beauty. Hearing the flute-like song of a Veery is enchanting. Seeing Northern Flicker heads (with Michael Nesmith sideburns) protrude from a nesting cavity before daring to fledge surely seems comical. Witnessing a Merlin grab fast food on the fly is definitely shocking. These are only a few of the simple pleasures we chance to experience, and I myself don’t rank levels of joy in birding. Until now.

This lost loon I helped to rescue, referred to as “Little Guy,” has trumped all birding experiences for me. This bird will forever be my all-time favorite. But before you read any further, it’s time to let go of this name,” Little Guy.” Attaching a name to a wild animal connotes pet-status, or ownership. At the time of the rescue however, it seemed fitting to call this orphan by an endearing name, as a way to express the significance of the loon’s ordeal.  At Avian Haven, the chick has been designated by a more formal moniker: COLO 1740 Brighton VT. I will now refer to the loon as Colo.

Colo has literally outgrown the name, “Little Guy.” All traces of natal down are gone and the bird now sports sleek and crisp feathers in the first set of adult plumage. SPLENDID BEAUTY! When glancing at the updated pictures sent from Avian Haven, it’s hard to believe we are seeing the same loon. Please excuse the Grandma-like cliché, but: “They grow up so fast!”

Here is a recent email from Diane Winn of Avian Haven from September 7th:

She is quite the little pistol – as you can see, she still has some downy fuzz on her head, but she’s now quite waterproof and has become an accomplished diver. She’s in the company of another young loon with eye damage caused by an eagle grab; the prognosis for that one remains uncertain, but meanwhile, they are good companions. They share our large pool, and each day, we take them to a pond on the property for outdoor “enrichment sessions.”

And from a post of Facebook on September 10:

She is currently devouring about 25 capelin a day and is so excited about them that she practically jumps out of the pool when she sees us coming!

After the loon parents lost this chick, it has taken more than one village to raise it. The bird’s promising future is the result of a chain of actions spanning from Vermont to Maine. Visiting the North East Kingdom from Huntington, Vermont, I was lucky to have found Colo. VCE’s Loon Conservation Biologist Eric Hanson provided essential skills to best care for the loon. Eric passed the baton off by delivering Colo to rehabber Kappy Sprenger in Bridgton, Maine. Next, Kappy linked the responsibility from Eric to Avian Haven Directors, Marc Payne and Diane Winn. With their dedicated staff in Freedom, Maine, Colo’s return to a free and wild life (as an uncommon loon) has been ensured after six weeks of nurturing care.  May this wandering chick from Brighton, Vermont, have a bright future and a long, long life.

Within minutes of being released, COLO 1740 caught a crab for his/her first ocean snack. / © Terry Heitz
Within minutes of being released, COLO 1740 caught a crab for a first ocean snack. / © Terry Heitz

A final Facebook post from Avian Haven on September 29 lets us all say farewell:

Young Common Loon, released in Penobscot Bay on September 28, swam off with barely a glance back and explored the release cove extensively. We saw her take many long dives, surfacing from one with what looked like a clam in her beak. From another, she came up with a crab. Evidently she was enjoying a more varied menu than had been available at Avian Haven!

To end this blog series, which includes a progress report, I’ll share a poem I wrote years ago as a tribute to a beloved young friend.

The Loon

In beautiful, breeding plumage
Your devoted parents
Create you,
And from the moment of your being
They will remain
Committed to you,
Precious egg,
While you grow into yourself.

This precarious nest
In which you lay
On the edge of the shore
Clings with prayers of no flooding storms
That may cause hopes to drown.
For this is where you must be
While becoming you
Finding your place in the world.

Your loving parents
Are there for you always
Although you can only ride
Protected on their strong backs for a little while
Before you must fend for yourself,
Take the plunge,
Trust your wings,
Navigate by the stars.

Your heavy bones
Allow you to dive
Deep to the bottom of dark waters
Where you eventually find nourishment
But also the poisons
Of broken lures
Left unintentionally for you
Vulnerable in your innocence.

And one day, Autumn will be upon you
And instinct will have spoken.
And now you’ll know
You cannot stay
On this pond or in this place.
It’s time to migrate
To places unknown.
So, lift off this pond you call home
And pray that the water way
Is long enough
For you to gather the momentum
To lift up,
To the next adventure ahead.

And know….
I will always hear
Your beautiful song
Calling late in the night
Reaching out to me
Far in the distance.
I hear you and love you
Because distance
Never means you’re forgotten
And love never ends
But travels through time
No matter how far
Or long
Or difficult the journey.

Thank you for following this poster-child wayward loon’s story and please support wildlife programs in whatever way possible.

This post ©2015 by A. Wagner, birder, citizen scientist and educator. Used by permission. It also appears in a slightly different form, at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies blog.

The first chapter in our Little Guy mini-saga appeared on our blog August 21, 2015. The Rescue Update appeared August 28.
Another post by AW appears our blog: Expert birder pwned by 4-year old

Little Guy: Rescue Update

Guest post by our friend and expert birder, AW.

Imagine working a 1000-piece puzzle displaying a loon on a Vermont pond. First, you collect similar pieces of an image, like parts of the loon. You work these pieces to get a bigger whole, but for a while, it still remains unconnected to the frame. I call these “fascinators.” Eventually it all fits together.

Next, imagine the journeys of the rescued loon we’ve named “Little Guy” as that puzzle. Many pieces, however, are missing. We need an imagination filled with wonder to complete this puzzle, but here’s how a fascinator grows: It starts with Eric Hanson’s knowledge of the habits and habitats of loons. He predicted Little Guy’s journey began from Beecher Pond 12 to 24 hours prior to my discovery of the chick along a roadside on August 18th. Eric believes the loon traveled about a half mile through dense woods. How a chick, so awkward on land, could make such a challenging trek is a fantastic mystery!

The fascinator grows with the next journey to Maine and the next caregiver, Kappy Sprenger. Here is what she wrote about the care she could offer (8/22):

I’m transferring the VT chick to Avian Haven in Freedom, ME.  It needs more care than I can give it at this point.

The waterproofing is poor on all dark feathers. Remember how odd the down looked?   Not wet but sort of crinkled and bent?   Something dried on or coated it. I wonder if the chick surfaced in a slick from boat gas.   Yesterday we gave it a ‘light’ bath which didn’t help at all.   The chick also doesn’t eat as much or well as I think it should this many days here. Avian Haven can do lab work, X-rays, etc. and I’m sure will keep you appraised.

Glad you brought the bird to us.


The next pieces fit into place with Diane, from Avian Haven in Freedom, Maine (8/25):

Your loon chick is doing very well so far. As Kappy had noted, her waterproofing is not great, but she can dive, and it takes several hours for her back to get a little wet. She stays dry underneath, which is good. As of yesterday, she learned to get herself up on the pool haul-out, so we feel comfortable leaving her in the pool knowing that, when she feels she needs to be out, she can get out on her own. Rather than try a second bath, our plan is to see if she can get her back feathers into shape by preening.

She has become a voracious feeder, practically jumping out of the pool to grab fish out of someone’s hand as soon as the panel doors are opened. She’s taking 5-6 capelin at a time, and probably eating 25 or so a day. At that rate, she’ll be all grown up in no time! I’ll keep you posted on her progress.

Best regards, Diane

“Little Guy” in Avian Haven’s “rehab pool” in Maine.
“Little Guy” in Avian Haven’s “rehab pool” in Maine. Photo courtesy Ali Wagner and VCE.

So Little Guy’s fantastic journey continues — from a Vermont pond, then overland through woods to a roadside encounter, then a trip back to water, then another rescue, and now a detour to Maine. I’ll keep everyone posted on Little Guy’s progress.

This post ©2015 by A. Wagner, birder, citizen scientist and educator. Used by permission. It also appears in a slightly different form, at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies blog.

The first chapter in our Little Guy mini-saga appeared on our blog August 21, 2015.
Another post by AW appears our blog: Expert birder pwned by 4-year old