Tuesday, October 31, 2017

VINS Volunteer Transporter Training

by Lauren Adams
Lead Wildlife Keeper

Love animals?  Live in Vermont or New Hampshire?  Have a car?  Have some flexibility in your schedule?  We need you!  Help VINS rescue and rehabilitate injured wild birds by being a volunteer transporter!

Every year, VINS rescues and rehabilitates around 500 wild birds from all over the state of Vermont.  All of these birds make it to us because someone sees them get hurt or finds them not looking quite right during the course of their normal day.  Usually, they call VINS and we determine the best way to get the bird help.  In most cases, the rescuer is able to box up the bird and transport it to VINS where we can evaluate and treat the injuries.  The best chance a bird has to recover and be healthy enough for release back into the wild is to get to VINS as soon as possible.  If a rescuer is unable to transport the bird they’ve found to us, that is where our transporters come in. 

We are continually touched by the willingness of people to go out of their way to help an animal in need in whatever capacity they are able.  From the volunteers who spend one day a week here helping us feed, clean and care for our animals, to the kind people who find a bird by the side of the road and drop everything to get it help, it warms my heart to know that there are people all over who care about animals as much as we do here at VINS. 

There are so many ways to support VINS and our mission, even if you live far away, have a busy schedule, or don’t know quite where to start.  If you are interested in being a transport volunteer, you are encouraged to attend our transporter training on Sunday, December 3, here at VINS. The training is not required, but provides a lot of helpful information and resources.  The more transport options that we have across the state, especially in remote areas, the better we are able to help Vermont’s wildlife.

Join us for the training if you can!

Sunday, December 3, 2017
1pm-3pm in the VINS Classroom
Vermont Institute of Natural Science
149 Natures Way, Quechee, VT 05059

Please contact Lauren Adams for any questions: 
ladams@vinsweb.org or 802-359-5001 ext. 218

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Book Review: Happiness is a Rare Bird

Happiness is a Rare Bird by Gene Walz was published in 2016. Gene is a friend of VINS' executive director, Charlie Rattigan, and supports our mission to motivate people to care about the environment through education, research, and rehabilitation, and the appreciation of birds. 

Review by Katharine Britton

Successful birding requires stamina, perseverance, patience, and luck. Gene Walz possesses all these qualities, as well as the ability to write vastly entertaining essays. Happiness is a Rare Bird: Living the birding life is a compilation of his writings.

Readers will find entries on common birds (Black-capped Chickadees, Mallards, and Song Sparrows) rare birds (the Cock of the Rock, Antpittas) the author’s least favorite bird (the Common Grackle) and even one on jinx birds, the species that an avid birder spends his or her lifetime unsuccessfully pursuing. The Golden Oriole was one of Walz’s jinx birds. He once trekked for thirty minutes “through thick foliage, thorn bushes, and swampy grounds” in order to spot one. When he returned to his group of fellow birders to report his success, they informed him that they’d just seen six Golden Orioles from the comfort of the roadside rest area. Having a good sense of humor will help the successful birder as well.

Walz warns aspiring birders about the discomforts that await them: early-morning risings in the dark, seemingly endless drives, hours-long waits in cold, brisk winds or soaking rains. Birding “hot spots” are often in less-than-inspiring surroundings. “A sod farm near a bison compound,” was one such example. But Walz also shares the awe inspiring and sometimes unexpected sights that can reward a patient birder after enduring such hardships. He and a friend once watched eight falcons perform amazing aerial acrobatics for hours as they pursued a flock of Buff-breasted Sandpipers. Walz and his companion had only gone out to see the Sandpipers.

In his essays he passes along some lessons he’s learned. As a child he once found a Yellow Warbler nest in which a Brown-headed Cowbird (which doesn’t build its own nest but rather parasitizes other birds’ nests) had laid an egg. The warblers built another nest of top of their old one, eggs and all, and laid another clutch. The cowbird deposited an egg in that nest too, and in the next, and the next, until the warblers finally gave up. This was not the lesson Walz wanted to share, however. The lesson was that he believes he might have unwittingly alerted the cowbird as to the location of the warblers’ nest by visiting it so often, thereby condemning the warblers.

Birders of all levels will be entertained, informed, and inspired by Walz’s essays, as they find a new birding destination to explore, learn the name of a good bird book to read, or are simply reminded that birding expeditions give birders “a lot more than just fabulous, rare birds.”

Katharine Britton volunteers at VINS and is the author of three novels, HER SISTER'S SHADOW, LITTLE ISLAND, and VANISHING TIME. She lives in Norwich, VT.