Friday, June 22, 2012

Flicker Fanatics

The VINS Wildlife Services department has become a temporary home to 10 young northern flickers, a type of woodpecker. The birds came from two separate cavity nests, and as you will see in our video, the brood is causing quite a stir!

This time of year, a lot of people are getting yard work done, clearing trees and removing brush. What else is happening this time of year? Birds are building nests and having babies in those trees and brush!

That's why it is so important you check a tree for nests before you cut it down. Babies can be injured or die when a tree falls (or their nest falls), and parents may fly off and abandon babies that do survive. In the case of the flickers, two trees with cavity nests (holes in the trees that the birds use as nesting sites) were cut down, and the babies were unable to be re-nested and re-united with their parents.

If you do cut down a tree with a nest in it, call your local wildlife rehabilitator for advice. The birds may need to be seen for an examine, but sometimes you can re-nest the babies.  

Lucky for these flickers, the VINS Wildlife team will continue to care for these babies until they're ready to go it alone in the wild.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Setting the Stage for Fighting Invasives

   by Laura McRee and Baxter Seguin, VINS Summer Research Interns

Classroom training session for mapping invasive species

Invasive species have become an important subject in the environmental community in recent years but what exactly are they?  As defined by the National Invasive Species Council (NISC) an invasive species is an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause harm to human health, economics, or environmental processes (Definitions Subcommittee 2006).   Many of the common invasive plant species will enter an area and begin to compete with native species creating a monoculture that has little control on its population.  Due to situations like this it is estimated that almost $120 billion in damages and losses are created every year because of invasive species (Primentel et al. 2005).  Another startling statistic is that about 42% of the species on the Threatened or Endangered species lists are at risk primarily because of alien-invasive species (Primentel et al. 2005).  Luckily organizations like the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) are taking steps to combat the invasion of these species in order to protect the natural areas we love and cherish as a society.
Botanist Chris Mattrick leads the group in native plant identification
            This past week members from various organizations such as the US Army Corps of Engineers, Upper Connecticut Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (UCISMA), Ottauquechee Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (OCISMA), Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), Student Conservation Association (SCA), Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park, and the Vermont chapter of The Nature Conservancy came together to do an intensive two-day workshop on invasive species found in Vermont and New Hampshire. The workshop included both classroom and field sessions, as well as guest lecturers.  Chris Mattrick, the botanist for the White Mountain National Forest’s Botany and Invasive Species program joined us to teach about native bog shrub species found in Vermont, along with the area’s tree species.  Classroom and field sessions included training with iMapInvasives software.  The workshops were a great learning opportunity for many that were new to invasives, and an excellent refresher for those well versed in the field of invasives. This group will continue to meet during the summer to work on invasive species removal and mapping projects throughout the Ottauquechee watershed.  

Definitions Subcommittee of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee. 2006. Invasive Species Definition Clarification and Guidance White Paper. ISAC
Primentel, D; Zuniga, R; and Morrison, D. 2005. Update on the Environmental and Economic Costs Associated with Alien-Invasive Species in the United States. Ecological Economics. Volume 52, Issue 3: pages 273-288

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Rosy Release

A male rose-breasted grosbeak was admitted as a patient to VINS in mid-May, suffering a fracture in his right wing. Less than 4 weeks later, this songbird left our care in good health.

The bird -- who had flown into the window of a home -- made a complete recovery here at VINS, thanks to the staff of the Wildlife Services department, and the gentleman who found the bird drove him two hours south to get to us. Good luck, grosbeak!