Tag Archives: eagle

2016 a Record Year for Vermont Bald Eagles

Vermont Bald Eagles Nest in Record Numbers in 2016


2016 a Record Year for Vermont Bald EaglesIn 2016 bald eagles produced 34 successful young in Vermont, smashing the most recent record of 26 in 2013 according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept. The birds remain on the list of species protected under Vermont’s state endangered species law, but this strong year has conservationists hopeful for their continued recovery.



This year also saw record nesting success for several other bird species monitored by biologists and volunteers in Vermont. Peregrine falcons successfully raised at least 81 young birds in 2016, breaking the previous state record of 67, according to Audubon Vermont who monitors nesting peregrine falcons in partnership with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.



2016 a Record Year for Vermont Bald Eagles and for Nesting Loon Success

Vermont also welcomed 80 new birds to the state’s loon population, breaking the previous record of 69. The Vermont Center for Ecostudies monitors the state’s nesting loons.

The mild weather this spring likely helped boost numbers of all three birds, according to John Buck, migratory bird biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.


“The cooperative weather provided a bump to many species this year, but the continued recovery of these species is the result of a long-term effort by our department and our partners to conserve the habitat these birds need to thrive,” said Buck.

Peregrine falcons and bald eagles declined in the Twentieth Century nationwide due to loss of habitat, disturbance to nests, and the effects of the pesticide DDT. Laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a ban on DDT have aided in the recovery of these birds. Loons similarly faced dramatic declines as a result of shoreline development and human disturbance of their habitat.

In 2005, peregrine falcons, loons, and osprey were removed from Vermont’s state endangered species list following years of conservation effort. Bald eagles have recovered in most of the contiental U.S. and have been removed from the federal endangered species list, but remain on Vermont’s state endangered species list as they continue to recover locally.

“Vermonters have played a huge role in the recovery of these species,” said Margaret Fowle, biologist with Audubon Vermont. “We work with a large number of citizen volunteers who help monitor nests, while the general public has aided in recovery efforts by maintaining a respectful distance from these birds during the critical nesting season. Paddlers have been keeping away from nesting loons, and the climbing community has been helpful by respecting cliff closures and getting the word out about where the birds are.”

2016 a Record Year for Vermont Bald Eagles supported by license plate sales

Vermonters can help researchers in their effort to conserve birds by donating online to the nongame wildlife fund at www.vtfishandwildlife.com or by purchasing a conservation license plate, including the new loon design plate.



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Injured Bald Eagle Released Back into the Wild

Injured Bald Eagle Released Back into the Wild

Staff with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences released a juvenile bald eagle back into the wild last week at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison, Vermont.

The young eagle was injured when it fell from its nest early this summer. A local wildlife photographer notified the landowner and Fish & Wildlife staff that the eagle was injured. The bird was initially treated at the Outreach for Earth Stewardship rehabilitation facility in Shelburne, and then transferred to the Vermont Institute for Natural Science in Quechee to complete its rehabilitation. Biologists attached special identification bands to the eagle’s legs before releasing it to the wild.

“This release is a great moment for eagle restoration in Vermont,” said Fish & Wildlife bird biologist John Buck. “This day would not be possible without the dedicated efforts of the many people who care deeply about restoring the bald eagle to its rightful place among Vermont’s wildlife community.”

Bald eagles declined nationwide due to loss of habitat and the effects of the pesticide DDT. Laws protecting eagles, such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a ban on DDT have aided in the recovery of the United States’ national symbol.

According to Buck, Vermont’s bald eagle population is in the midst of a strong recovery. He cites continued support from the public through funding wildlife programs like the Nongame Wildlife Fund and maintaining a safe distance from nesting eagles, in addition to the work of conservation partners, as critical to the species’ continued recovery in Vermont.



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New Law Protects Vermont’s Most Vulnerable Species

New Law Protects Vermont’s Most Vulnerable Species

Last May Vermont’s  Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law H.570, a bill that provides a new tool in the effort to prevent state-listed threatened and endangered species from disappearing from Vermont – the protection of critical habitat.  Prior to this law, while the species themselves were protected, the places critical to their survival were not.  Endangered bats often return to the same cave each autumn, and bald eagles frequently nest in the same tree year after year. Thanks to the new law, we have the ability to work with landowners and designate these critical habitats so they cannot be destroyed while the animals are elsewhere.

The bill represents only the first step in protecting habitat for these species and was designed to be limited in scope. While it does not protect large swaths of land for wide-ranging species like Canada lynx, it will protect those discrete, identifiable spots essential to the continued existence of these animals in Vermont. Hard work lies ahead to determine which threatened or endangered species need critical habitat protection, and then to enact those protections through the state rule-making process. But the bill’s passage provides impetus and optimism for the way forward.

How you can helpNew Law Protects Vermont's Most Vulnerable Species. Use the habitat stamp

For wildlife to be conserved, the habitat they need to survive must also be conserved.  It’s just that simple.  And now you can help in that effort through the Vermont Habitat Stamp.
Funds generated by the stamp help purchase lands for permanent conservation and provide funding to work with landowners to improve habitat for a wide range of species from golden-winged warblers to black bears.  The stamp has already contributed to the expansion of the Lemon Fair Wildlife Management Area.

The actual ‘stamp’ is a bumper sticker that is sent in the mail to people who donate online at vtfishandwildlife.com.  The suggested donation is $15, although some donors have chosen to contribute up to $1,000.


Critical Habitat – What is it and why is it critical?

New Law Protects Vermont's Most Vulnerable Species and critical habitatSo what exactly is critical habitat?  Critical habitat is the specific, limited area that a threatened or endangered species needs to survive.

For spiny softshell turtles, that could mean one of the few remaining small stretches of shale-covered beach that the turtles use for nesting.  For a timber rattlesnake, it could mean the south-facing scree fields they use as den sites to hibernate in winter.  Or for the northeastern bulrush, it could entail the few beaver wetland complexes in which they are still found in Vermont.

These small areas have a big impact on a threatened or endangered species’ capacity to thrive in Vermont.  Recognizing their importance and placing protections on these areas is one step in ensuring these species will remain a fixture of the Vermont landscape.


Bald eagles return to their nests

New Law Protects Vermont's Most Vulnerable Species like bald eaglesDid you know that bald eagles often return to the same nest every year?  Building a new nest may take months to complete, so if proven successful one year, eagles will continue to use the same nest year after year.

In the past, department staff have worked with landowners to protect trees with active bald eagle nests.  Vermonters love wildlife, so landowners have generally been extremely cooperative.  But now, thanks to H.570 we have a new tool to ensure that nest trees remain safe as long as eagles continue to use them.


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Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge

Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge

Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge sign

The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwestern Vermont, near the border with Canada. It was created in 1943 to provide habitat for migratory birds travelling between northern breeding grounds and southern wintering areas along the Atlantic Flyway. The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is 6729 acres of mostly wetland habitat and hosts over 200 different species of birds. Fall migration features 20,000-25,000 migrating ducks.



Bobolink on a Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge sign - Ken Sturm/USFWS.

Bobolink on a Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge sign

Near the main headquarters are open fields; this is where bobolinks raise their young. Since the 1900’s the bobolink populations in the Northeast have declined – with a 75%  decrease over the past 40 years. Bobolinks travel round trip from the pampas in South America – about 12,000 miles. in May they arrive in Vermont to breed, with the young hatching in June. This hatching typically occurs at the same time when farmers are harvesting their first cut of hay, exposing the newborn bobolinks to a 100% mortality rate.


Wetland Habitat

Most of the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is made up of a variety of freshwater wetland habitats which support a variety of migratory birds and other wildlife. Vegetation in many of these marshes includes wild rice, smartweed, pickerel weed, arrowhead and giant burred. Nesting bald eagles, osprey, and a great blue heron rookery on Shad Island – with more than 300 nests – is the home to the largest heron rookery in Vermont, are all resent on the refuge.Shad Island is located on the refuge near the delta where the Missisquoi River flows into Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay. The marshes provide some of the best examples of these wetland communities in the State of Vermont.


Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge


The warm shallow water of the Missisquoi Delta provides excellent fishing opportunities on and around the refuge. Refuge boat launch facilities at Louie’s Landing and seasonally at Macs Bend allow boaters quick access to the river and Lake Champlain. The refuge hosts a Children’s Fishing Clinic each June/July where young anglers 15 yrs. of age or younger can fish along the banks of the Missisquoi River and receive excellent instruction regarding spin casting, fly tying, river/lake ecology, aquatic invasive species and other related fishing activities.

Please be aware that some areas on the lake are closed to fishing.


Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge


Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge Events

The refuge hosts annual events such as International Migratory Bird Day on the third Saturday in May. This event is coupled with the refuge open house and art display featuring local artists and photographers. The Junior Waterfowl Hunter Training program is held the third Saturday in August, providing expert instruction both indoors and outdoors for young waterfowlers age 12-15.

The first Saturday in May is Refuge green Up Day during which staff and volunteers conduct a cleanup of refuge waterways.

The Friends of Missisquoi NWR provide Monthly bird walks on the third Saturday of each month and a photography/nature walk on the first Saturday of each month. Bog walks, Vernal Pool walks, Owl Prowls occur seasonally during the year.


Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge


Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge Events

The Refuge HQ offers a large classroom for schools, summer camps, and other groups complete with audio/visual projection. Displays and exhibits are available in the HQ building as well. A hiking trail begins at the south entrance of the HQ building and offers educational opportunities to discuss green energy, macroinvertebrates, grassland habitats and a variety of other subject matter with students. The refuge provides outdoor classroom experiences to local schools and summer camps.

The refuge is also the contact point for the State of Vermont regarding the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program. This program which is available to all schools, homeschools and organizations encourages cross curriculum learning with the arts and sciences resulting in an art entry which competes at the state level.


The Maquam Bog

Maquam bog at Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge- Ken Sturm/USFWS.

Maquam bog at Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge

Classified as a pitch pine woodland bog, the Maquam Bog is the only community of its kind in Vermont and one of only a few found in all of New England.The Maquam Bog is a 900 acre bog community that has been shaped and maintained by fires and flooding. The depth of the peat ranges from 2.5 ft to 8 ft deep.

The vegetative community of the bog features pitch pine, rare Virginia chain fern, blueberries, a variety of sphagnum moss species and is dominated by rhodora.

The bog is also home to moose, short eared owls, shrikes and serves as a wintering area for whitetail deer. Please note that the bog is closed to all public use except for upland game hunting. Special Use Permits may be applied for to access the bog for other purposes, please contact the refuge manager for details.


The Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge is located at 29 Tabor Road (just off Route 78) in Swanton, VT, telephone = (802) 868-4781 http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Missisquoi/

Visitor Center hours:

Monday – Friday                                        8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturdays (May 19 to October 27)         10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Please note that most public use is permitted only on designated trails or along the Missisquoi River


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Other Lake Champlain Points of Interest:

2014 Record Year for Nesting Loon Success

Vermont Nesting Loon Population Increases in 2014

Vermont’s nesting loon population in 2014 was a record for success. There were 65 fledglings or chicks that survived to leave the nest on Vermont lakes and ponds.

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