The fields, garden areas and lawns around the main house are checked. The survey then moves to the River Road meadows to check the wetlands to the east of the field. Snowshoes may or may not be necessary. February begins our third year of monthly bird surveys at Hildene.
A southern invasion of Common Redpolls continues this winter season. These visitors from the north have been descending on feeders in energetic flocks since November. They are partial to nyjer seeds, but sunflower seeds are just as 'yummy' for them. While reports of other northern 'invaders,' Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks, and crossbills have been limited, it's not too late in the season to see these or Pine Grosbeaks or a Northern Shrike.
However, there has been great excitement about a Common Pochard, a European species, that has been seen on Lake Champlain from the Champlain bridge, the DAR Park north of the bridge and Port Henry, directly across the lake in New York since New Year's Day. It has been with a large raft of ducks which included a Tufted Duck (another European duck) as well as Red-headed and Canvasback Ducks - species more common to central and western U.S. Other unusual visitors in this area are Barrows Golderneye and Glaucous Gull. Ducks more common to Vermont in winter are also present - Mallards, Black Ducks, Lesser and Greater Scaups, Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes. This year the concentration of birds around the Champlain bridge is reputed to be among the best ever seen anywhere in the Northeast.
For more information, contact Randy at the Vermont Bird Place & Skywatch at 362-2270 for more information about these events.