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VT Bird Report - June 24, 2022

We have just passed the summer solstice and most birds are well into breeding season. Many species are incubating eggs, while others have already raised a batch of young to leave the nest.

The eastern phoebes nesting on my porch look ready to take their first flight any day now. Our indoor cats will be sad to see them go.

Doug Morin

               Habitat stamp link

What to Look For in the Next Two Weeks

It’s baby bird season. Most of the baby birds people find are fledglings, which appear helpless, but are in fact just fine and merely need space. The parents will be nearby waiting for humans to leave. Here’s a detailed article from the Audubon Society.

young birds in nestThis is still a great time to learn bird songs and to be on the lookout for nests. The length of time required for incubation and development of chicks in the nest varies widely by species. Generally, songbird eggs take 10-14 days to hatch and another 10-14 days to develop until they are ready to leave the nest. Larger birds take longer amounts of time—peregrine falcons, for example, take about 30 days to hatch and 30-40 days to leave the nest (or “fledge”).

Breeding season is also a great time to appreciate feathers. This time of year, many male birds are sporting their brightest colors to attract mates and warn off competitors. Red, yellow and orange feather colors are derived from carotenoid pigments that birds get in their diet. Black, grey and brown are colors are derived from melanin pigments that birds synthesize on their own (these same pigments color the hair and skin of humans and other mammals). Blue colors and the shiny iridescence of some birds (like male hummingbirds) are made from the feather structure itself. Pigments and structures are also combined to create the wide variety of colors we see in birds.     

Fish and Wildlife is for the Birds

Gray Jay
Gray Jay

Fish and wildlife staff were out early this past week listening to birds and donating blood to mosquitoes.  Counting birds at prescribed locations and times as part of the Vermont Forest Bird Monitoring Program is one of the most effective long-term monitoring programs for Vermont’s birds. This year, I was lucky enough to catch an adult and fledgling gray jay—birds of the north, only found in Vermont in a few locations in the northeast kingdom. 

Bird flu (avian influenza) is still out there. As of this week, more than 1,600 wild birds and 372 poultry flocks have tested positive for the virus in the US. The department is continuing to work with state and federal partners to monitor and manage this outbreak. For more information, see the department's Wildlife Health Bulletin from this spring.

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