As the summer months roll around and the entire state turns a vibrant green, Vermont bird-watchers look for the return of familiar summer birds, along with a few that stay all year.
Erin Talmage, director of the Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington, relates a few distinctive birds to watch for.
Barred Owl. As evening falls and the fireflies come out, the occasional distant hooting call from the forest could be a young barred owl calling to its parents for food. This large owl can be seen all year throughout Vermont, and its distinctive call of “who cooks for you” has led some to call it the hoot owl.
Hermit Thrush. This spotted bird with a long, reddish tail is often seen and heard April through October, and occasionally in the winter. The hermit thrush was adopted as Vermont’s state bird in 1941, in part because legislators felt it represented native Vermonters, with its beautiful and tenacious song and its retiring and shy demeanor.
Veery. Though rarely seen, this thrush’s lovely song is often heard. The species shows up at the end of April or beginning of May and generally leaves at the end of September. The bird is said to be able to harmonize with itself.
Black-throated Green Warbler. These small songbirds arrive in Vermont in late April and leave in early October. They are one of a class of birds known as neo-tropical migrants, which come to Vermont during the summer to breed, and then return to Central and South America for the winter. For many birders, the influx of warblers in the spring is grounds for real excitement.
Baltimore Oriole. These medium-sized songbirds are a herald of spring in Vermont, with their beautiful, whistling song and bright orange and black coloring. They can be spotted on the highest tree branches, and, like hummingbirds, love fruit and nectar.
Black-capped Chickadee. These small, curious songbirds are common throughout the year and found almost everywhere in Vermont. They are often found on feeders, and are loved by many Vermonters. Their “chickadee-dee-dee” call is one of the easiest to recognize.
American Goldfinch. These yellow, black and white birds are also common year-round throughout the state and on feeders. In the spring and summer, the males lose their dull winter hues and become an electric yellow.
Double-crested Cormorant. These large black water birds flock to Lake Champlain between March and December. The somewhat gangly cormorants are often seen on docks or rocks, holding their wings spread wide to dry. They are experts at diving for fish, and their heavy bodies sit low in the water. Cormorants may be the state’s most debated bird—large populations have caused vegetation destruction and displacement of other birds.
Peregrine Falcon. These powerful predators were almost wiped out in the mid-20th century, but have now been removed from the state endangered list due to the hard work of private organizations, state agencies and many volunteers. Populations in Vermont continue to thrive.
Osprey. These large raptors, which can be seen gliding above bodies of water in the summer, were also recently removed from the state endangered list. They feed on fish, and their large nests made of sticks can be spotted on poles or dead trees over the water. They have white bellies, and from below, their outstretched wings are mostly white.
Common Loon. Like peregrine falcons and osprey, common loons were just removed from the state endangered list, and are now doing well in Vermont. Their haunting, eerie calls echo across quiet lakes and ponds during the summer months.
For more information about birds in Vermont, contact the Birds of Vermont Museum at 802-434-2167 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was contributed by Stephanie Choate.