Outdoor Radio

Every Third Thursday Of The Month At 7:50 a.m. And The Following Friday At 6:20 p.m.
  • Hosted by Kent McFarland, Sara Zahendra

The Vermont Center for Ecostudies and VPR unite the sounds and science of nature in this monthly feature. The program is hosted by biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra, who share their knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm for wildlife education and conservation.

Zahendra has a BS in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. She pursues a number of interests including bats and bees. McFarland, a conservation biologist and photographer, is widely published in scientific journals, newspapers and magazines. Kent’s specialties include birds, insects and natural sounds. 

VPR’s Chief Production Engineer, Chris Albertine, is the audio engineer.

Outdoor Radio is made possible by the VPR Journalism Fund and by a grant to VCE from the Vermont Community Foundation.

VCE, a non-profit group of biologists based in Norwich, promotes wildlife conservation across the Americas with scientific research and citizen engagement. VCE Scientists study and protect birds, insects, amphibians and other wildlife from Canada to South America.

VPR

This month on Outdoor Radio, we’ll venture out into a meadow of wild flowers that is literally singing with bumble bees. Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra talk about the species we find in Vermont, the different ways they pollinate our flowers and crops, and the environmental factors that are threatening their population.

Kent McFarland

Hard hats in hand, Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra head to the docks at Lake Champlain. They are taking a boat to Papasquash Island, owned by Audubon Vermont, to help count the new breeding population of common terns.

Roy Pilcher

The arrival of the American Woodcock is one of the exciting signs of spring in Vermont.

Chris Bernier / Vermont Fish And Wildlife Department

Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra traveled by snowmobile into the wilderness of the Northeast Kingdom in hopes of spotting a Canada lynx or lynx tracks.

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

Crows are the stuff of movies, mysteries and dark lore. They are also smart, gregarious birds with fascinating habits including a gathering called the winter roost when thousands of crows group together late in the day.

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra visited a deer reporting station in Barre during Youth Hunting Weekend. They talked with biologist John Buck of the Vermont Fish And Game Department about how the state manages the deer herd and the role that deer play in Vermont's ecosystem. 

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

Beavers are often thought to be a nuisance, but they also make positive contributions to the environment. 

Chris Albertine / VPR

Putney Mountain is one of the high points in Vermont where bird watchers gather in early fall to see the migration of raptors and butterflies. Biologist Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra explain how raptors travel for hundreds of miles using as little energy as possible.

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

Monarch butterflies are hard to miss with their brilliant orange color and a wingspan that can reach four inches across. But recently they've been difficult to find because their numbers are in decline.

In this edition of Outdoor Radio, biologists Sara Zahendra and Kent McFarland track Monarchs in the flower-filled fields of the Burlington Intervale. We'll learn how Monarchs migrate to Mexico and the challenges to their survival.

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

The Birds Of Vermont Museum in Huntington has created pollinator gardens to attract and support bees, butterflies, flies and other insects. 

Kent McFarland

The lake sturgeon is an ancient, long-lived and peculiar fish that lives in Lake Champlain. Lake sturgeon can live as long as 150 years and weigh 300 pounds. They are basically a prehistoric relic — a fishasaurus!

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

This month, Outdoor Radio takes you to Salisbury, Vermont where salamanders, newts and frogs are crossing Morgan Road to a swamp where they reproduce. Dozens of volunteers are keeping a tally, and when a car comes along, the volunteers scoop them up so they don't get squashed.

Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra are joined by Herpetologist Jim Andrews as the volunteers work with clipboards and flashlights to participate in this rite of Spring.

Over the course of two and a half hours, 44 volunteers counted 512 amphibians.

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center for Ecostudies

Scientists are working diligently to help the majestic American Elm reign once again, after the tree was decimated by Dutch Elm Disease.

In this episode of Outdoor Radio, biologists Sara Zahendra and Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies are in Plainfield at the foot of a disease-resistant elm. Scientists are taking branch clippings from 60 feet up to pair the buds with other resistant trees.

Ed Sharron

This month on Outdoor Radio, biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies head out into the woods to track the Fisher. Sometimes called the Fisher Cat, it's not a cat at all. Biologist Steve Faccio, who specializes in Fishers, joins McFarland and Zahendra to dispel some myths about Fishers and offer tips on how to track them.

Kent McFarland / Vermont Cetner for Ecostudies

This is the time of year when Black-capped Chickadees congregate at bird feeders, making their distinctive sound. These affable little birds are stashing away thousands of seeds for the winter. 

Kent McFarland

The Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area is a destination spot for bird watchers who come to see the thousands of snow geese that flock there.

Biologists Sara Zahendra and Kent McFarland explain why snow geese are on the decline and why that's a good thing. You'll hear the incredible din of the birds as they rise up from Dead Creek in a cloud of winged snow. Here are some additional resources to learn about Dead Creek and Snow Geese.

Chris Albertine/VPR

We all learned the basics of how and why leaves change color in the fall. But on this edition of Outdoor Radio, we take a deeper look at the chemistry of foliage.

Sarah Carline

Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra head to central Vermont in search of the Timber Rattlesnake. 

Lisa Brown / Flickr: Mean and Pinchy 756935332

The evening chorus of crickets and katydids can evoke childhood memories of summer as we pause to listen to their distinct sound. But most of us know little about these insects. Known to biologists as Orthoptera (or-THROP-tir-ah), they can be found all over the world, except the poles.

ilbusca / istock

Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra head out to West Haven, Vermont at dusk to brave a cloud of mosquitoes in search of the song of the threatened whip-poor-will.

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