Vermonters study what bird conservation tells us about the environment

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A group from the Vermont Center for Eco-Studies spent the night on Vermont’s highest peak to study two very unique species of birds.

Chris Rimmer and his team went to Mt. Mansfield to for a closer look at Bicknell’s Thrush and the Black Pole Warbler, species that live in alpine climates.

“These birds, which depend on these habitats are vulnerable, and we need to keep track of ’em because they’re indicators of the health of the environment,” said Rimmer, executive director of the Vermont Center for Eco-Studies. “And how they’re doing, tells us something about how the habitats are doing. So basically we’re up here doing a health check, an annual health check on the birds that breed here.”

Once they capture the bird, which is done in a series of nets they have set up, they will examine the bird, taking measurements and looking for signs of injury. After that, they tag and weigh the bird and set them free. These birds only live here during the summer months to nest, and then head south to the Dominican Republic or to Europe to escape the snowy winters.

While tagging birds in the Dominican Republic, they found two that were tagged in Vermont, one on Stratton Mountain and the other from Mount Mansfield.

“Not only is it almost miraculous, like finding a needle in a hay stack. But it just establishes this very direct biological link between these two areas, and how so important to pay attention to what’s going on in both areas,” Rimmer says.

He notes that on the conservation side of things, one big concern is what happens to the birds during the winter when they are away from Vermont

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