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Birding In VermontEpisodes & Air Times »
Naturalist Bryan Pfeiffer leads a year-long tour around the state in search of species ranging from common backyard birds to the elusive Spruce Grouse and Bicknell's Thrush. Along the way, he offers tips to make birding fun and successful.
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Host Bryan Pfeiffer
Bryan Pfeiffer is an author, photographer and consulting naturalist who has been watching birds most of his life. His personal guiding service is Vermont Bird Tours.
Bryan's articles and essays on nature have appeared inThe New York Times, Vermont Life, Field and Stream,and Northern Woodlands, among other publications. Bryan is co-author of Birdwatching in Vermont, a guide to finding and enjoying birds in the state.
When he's not chasing birds, Bryan devotes his time to the study and conservation of butterflies, dragonflies and other insects. He lives in Central Vermont, where he wanders the landscape enjoying everything from ferns to frogs to fireflies.
Birds of Vermont Museum (Huntington)
The first stop early in the year is the Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington to see an impressive array of feeders. Bryan and museum founder Bob Spear identify backyard birds with Roxanne Bogart, Scott Schwenk and their young daughters.
The tour continues in the Champlain Valley in late winter to look for hawks hunting the fields, and for ice-fishing eagles and courting ducks on the lake.
Herrick's Cove (Rockingham)
A spring visit to Herrick's Cove in southeastern Vermont shows that, even on a wet day, birders can find migrating warblers and marsh birds like the elusive Virginia Rail. Bridget Butler of Audubon Vermont joins Bryan at this spot that is designated an "Important Bird Area."
Moose Bog (Northeast Kingdom)
On a warm summer day, Bryan takes viewers to remote Moose Bog in the Northeast Kingdom looking for species like the Spruce Grouse that breed only in boreal habitat. Along a nearby dirt road, he finds brilliantly colored warblers.
At the rugged top of Mt. Mansfield, he searches for the rare Bicknell's Thrush, which breeds only at high elevations. He finds Vermont Institute of Natural Science researcher Kent McFarland and his team of "bicknologists" at work studying the birds.
Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area (Addison County)
In fall, the focus is on Vermont Fish & Wildlife's Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison and the annual Snow Goose spectacle. Bryan meets some of the many visitors who come from near and far. He enjoys the geese and other species with refuge manager Dave Sausville.
The final stop of the year is the Christmas Bird Count in Woodstock, where citizen science combines with the social side of birding. Bryan starts the day with count organizer Sally Laughlin and her teammate, Deb Biglow, in the village. Later, he joins Chris Rimmer and Paul Wieczoreck in the hinterlands of the count circle. He gathers with all the volunteer counters for the traditional tally and potluck supper.
Tips on how to watch birds.
Audubon: Bird Watching: Birding Basics
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds
Birding Areas / Field Trips / Museums
"Important Bird Areas" in Vermont
Vermont Bird Tours (Bryan Pfeiffer birding tours)
The Daily Wing
North Branch Nature Center, Montpelier, VT
Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, Swanton, VT
The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St. Johnsbury, VT
The Montshire Museum of Science, Norwich, VT
Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, VT
Lake Champlain Birding Trail
Christmas Bird Count / Citizen Science
Information on how to become involved in your local Christmas Bird Count and other citizen science projects.
Christmas Bird Count
Great Backyard Bird Count
Information on how and what to feed birds.
Audubon: Bird Feeding
Kids and Birding
Birding as a family is great fun. Here are a few things you might want to try:
Audubon Just for Kids
Birding with Children: Tips on Getting Started
Smithsonian National Zoo: Birds for Kids (include fun online activities)
Audubon Vermont, including local chapters
Vermont Center for Ecostudies
VINS: Vermont Institute of Natural Science
VTBIRD, Vermont’s listserve for sightings, including rare bird alerts
American Bird Conservancy
American Birding Association
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
National Audubon Society
Birdwatching in Vermont by Ted Murin and Bryan Pfeiffer
A book about some of the best places to bird in Vermont, including directions on how to get there.
National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America
Featured in Birdwatching in Vermont as one of the good field guides to choose from. This and other guides are available wherever books are sold.
Birding by Ear (Peterson Field Guide; Audio CD)
More Birding by Ear (Peterson Field Guide; Audio CD)
Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs (Audio CD)
These and other resources may also be available as downloads.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library
Smart Phone Apps
These didn't exist when Birding in Vermont was produced. Now, field guides, iBird and BirdTunes have become handy resources.