Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fly away, robin!

This American robin flew off into the woods of Vermont -- healthy and ready to tackle the insects of spring -- after receiving medical care at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS). Watch a video of the robin's release!

 Above, VINS intern Hannah Goldman prepares to release the robin.

The bird came to the VINS Wildlife Services department after flying into the wall of a garage and suffering severe head trauma. When the robin first arrived at VINS, his head involuntarily moved back and forth due to neurological damage (ataxia). But after proper medication and lots of TLC over a few weeks at VINS, this bird made a full recovery and is now back home in the wild!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Got Bats?

By Alyssa Bennett
VT Fish and Wildlife Technician

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (VFWD) needs help locating summer “house bat” colonies around the state. Vermont’s little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) commonly live in buildings such as attics, barns, and sheds from mid-April to October.

Vermont’s hibernating bat populations have been devastated by White-nose Syndrome (WNS), a disease caused by the cold-loving fungus Geomyces destructans. In just a few short years, WNS has left the once common little brown bat nearly extinct. Now listed as endangered in Vermont, little brown bats can eat half their weight in insects each night and are a vital part of our ecosystem.

You can help by document “house bat” colonies by filling out VFWD's online reporting form, or by calling state wildlife technician Alyssa Bennett at (802) 786-0098.

You can learn even more about bats by volunteering as a bat counter. Bats routinely emerge at dusk on warm, clear summer nights making them easy to count once you find their exit. Enjoy this summer pastime with family and friends, while gathering valuable scientific data. Find all the information on the web here or contact Bennett at (802) 786-0098.

Monitoring summer activity around the state will help us make informed decisions regarding the conservation and recovery of Vermont’s bats. Learn more about bats and WNS

Above images provided by Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Look For It Now: Bellwort & Ginger

The ephemeral wildflowers of Vermont are in their spring glory. The trillium is up and blooming, trout lilies are drooping their yellow heads between speckled leaves, and the bulbous buds of marsh marigolds are opening up their yellow petals. 

Two less splashy (yet no less wonderful) plants to look for now are sessile bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia) and Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadense). 

Sessile bellwort, also known as wild oats, is a slender, delicate flower found in woods and thickets. It's overturned pale yellow flower head makes it easily identifiable as a member of the Lily family (Liliaceae). You can often find sessile bellwort mixed in around trillium, Canada mayflower, and trout lily.

Wild ginger has two distinctive cupped leaves that face inward toward each other. At the base of the stems is the flower -- an odd-looking dark red-brown flower. At this time of year, it's easy to miss the flower; it may be buried under leaf debris.

Canadian wild ginger, native to eastern North America, got its name in part because the leaves and roots smell like ginger. However, culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a completely different species. This plant is part of the Birthwort family (Aristolochiaceae), and can be found in rich woods flowering now through May.

If you want to see these beauties, make haste: they won't be around for long!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meet Our Screech Owl

The VINS Nature Center in Quechee, Vermont, does a lot more than patch up injured birds and return them to the wild. We also care for dozens of permanent resident birds. Previously injured owls, hawks, eagles and songbirds -- who could not otherwise survive in the wild -- find sanctuary here at VINS, where they receive free healthcare, freshly prepared meals, and plenty of enrichment and attention.

Meet our screech owl!

One of our permanent residents is the eastern screech owl pictured here. VINS intern Priya Subbarayan will introduce you to this small owl in our video. Learn why he has one eye, and see where he lives here at VINS. If you come to VNIS, you may just seem this screech in one of our many educational programs.

Check back soon for more profiles on our permanent residents!

Above, VINS intern Priya Subbarayan gets our screech owl out of his enclosure.