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VT Bird Report - May 27, 2022

Breeding season is underway throughout the state. Early-breeding species have already hatched chicks—ducks, geese, robins, and bald eagles among them—while most species are still establishing territories and beginning breeding.

The morning chorus of songs are primarily male birds announcing their claim on a territory (other males, stay out!) and advertising their suitability for mates (ladies, come over!).

Grey treefrogs are also in the midst of breeding season. Their repeated trill is sometimes confused for that of a bird, though their calls peak after dusk and are less common in the mornings. Tree frogs can be found in many locations throughout the state with water and—appropriately—trees.

Doug Morin

Habitat stamp link

What to Look For in the Next Two Weeks

With breeding season in full swing, it’s a great time to observe behavior. Some species enact courtship displays, like American woodcock and ruby-throated hummingbird. For other species, you may be able to note individuals carrying nesting material (sticks, grass, etc) or food (often insects)—with some patience, you can locate a nest based on their repeated trips to one spot with these materials. It’s important to note, however, that bird nests are sensitive to disturbance and should only be viewed from afar.

What if you find a baby bird? Bird nests and baby birds, if found, should generally be left alone. Most of the 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.

whip-poor-will perched on a branch
Whip-Poor-Will - photo by Laura Gooch (CC 2.0)

Whip-poor-wills are out! These funny-looking, nocturnal birds are listed as Threatened in Vermont and have undergone significant population declines. If you’re in the right spot, you might be lucky enough to hear their distinctive, repeated WHIP-poor-WILL song around dusk or dawn on clear nights, particularly with at least a half-full moon. The moon level is so important for this species, they time their nesting to hatch chicks about 10 days before a full moon—this gives the adults the longest period of bright moonlight nights to forage insects for their young in the nest. Whip-poor-wills prefer forested areas with some open lands nearby and seem to reach their highest densities in the Champlain Valley, particularly in Addison and Rutland Counties.

Fish and Wildlife is for the Birds

Vermont Fish and Wildlife staff have recently observed some of the bald eagle chicks hatching. Eagles can begin nesting as early as March in Vermont and will incubate eggs for about one month. It then takes two to three months in the nest for chicks to be ready to fly.

Bald eagles’ nests are monitored each year in partnership with Audubon Vermont, and thanks to the tremendous recovery of the bald eagle in Vermont, it was recently removed from the state’s Endangered Species list.

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