The Mountain Times

°F Mon, April 21, 2014

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VINS Wildlife Services experiences a busy season

QUECHEE - As bird-breeding season winds down, the Wildlife Services staff at Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) can start to breathe normally again. It was a busy spring and summer for baby birds and other patients. In fact, we still even have several young ones in our care, from species that raise more than one brood a year, such as eastern phoebes, cedar waxwings, and American robins. We're keeping them warm, safe, and fed so they'll be able to face the coming fall and winter seasons in good health.
So far, our expert rehabbers have taken in 306 birds in 2013, a number slightly above average for this time of year. Things really heated up after the 4th of July weekend, when we received 13 birds in 2 hours time, a record for VINS! Our staff also noted a marked increase in the number of birds admitted due to pet attacks. As always, VINS recommends keeping cats inside to help reduce the songbird predation problem.
Spring and summer 2013 also brought some unusual guests our way, such as a young American bittern, a reclusive wading bird related to herons that frequents marshy wetlands. The bittern was found emaciated in a backyard; we were able to bring him back to good health and release him successfully on the edge of the Ottauquechee River here at the Nature Center.
Two other rarely seen species we had the pleasure of caring for were a northern goshawk and two northern mockingbirds. Goshawks are known for living and breeding in higher elevation deep forests, while mockingbirds are more common in southern New England and south, and they also usually favor more urban areas.
VINS's wild bird rehabilitation work is made possible through the tireless efforts of our dedicated staff, seasonal interns (a great crew this year!), and especially the scores of volunteers who do so much of the behind-the-scenes work. The board and staff of VINS would like to express our deepest thanks to these committed members of our community.
VINS would also like to recognize the contributions made to our efforts by generous donors. Through one such donation this spring, we were able to acquire two new incubators, just in time for the baby bird season. This increased our capacity to care for more birds and better prepare them for eventual release.
Nature Center visitors can see the baby birds in our care and watch them being fed in our Rehab in Action exhibit, a one-way viewing window connected to VINS Wildlife Services Department.
VINS is a nonprofit, member-supported, environmental education, wild bird rehabilitation, and research organization headquartered at the VINS Nature Center in Quechee, Vt. Open year-round, the 47-acre campus, adjacent to Quechee Gorge, features state-of-the-art raptor enclosures, exhibit spaces, classrooms, interpretive and universally accessible nature trails, and our wild bird hospital. VINS places a priority on making high-quality, compelling, and fun environmental learning opportunities accessible to more people and communities through our onsite and outreach nature education programs.
Please consider donating to VINS, adopting a raptor, or becoming a member so we can help us continue to care for the region's ill and injured birds and help educate each generation about the importance of the natural world.

Photo courtesy of VINS
This baby bittern bird was rehabilitated at VINS earlier this summer.