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.

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.

Steve Faccio

Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies recently took a trip to the Bolton Cliffs in search of a mighty bird.

Kent McFarland

On an early spring day, biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra stand in front of a vernal pool in Strafford. It’s noisy.

“The wood frogs are going berserk behind us,” says McFarland. “The sunlight has come down out of the clouds and warmed them up – they are ready to go.”

Kent McFarland

On a balmy, 25-degree afternoon in winter, three Vermonters go to the tiny town of Victory in the Northeast Kingdom in search of the fearless Gray Jay.

Kent McFarland

Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra glide out on to the ice covering Lake Morey in Fairlee.

“It’s February in Vermont and it’s pond hockey time,” says McFarland.

Kent McFarland

When you're on the ski lift or hiking up Vermont's mountains, take a look around to see the life zones of the trees on the mountainside. Biologists Sara Zahendra and Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, rode the gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort for the view from Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield.

Minette Lawnye / Flickr

The smallest birds to winter in the New England woods, golden-crowned kinglets are about the size of a thumb and weigh as much as a nickel. They travel as a foraging flock and keep warm at night by cuddling together, creating more volume with less surface area exposed.

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center for EcoStudies

The tiny Northern Saw-whet owl is migrating south right now and naturalists are tracking them as they pass through Vermont. On Outdoor Radio this week, we’ll visit a banding station in Montpelier to hear how these elusive birds are captured and banded.  

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center for EcoStudies

Chipmunks may be Vermont's cutest critter, especially when their fat little cheeks are stuffed with seeds.  This month on Outdoor Radio, we find out what they do with those seeds and learn how such a tiny creature survives a cold Vermont winter. Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra also explain how climate change is effecting chipmunks.

flickr / stinkenroboter / 13954037792

When the sun comes up, the dawn chorus erupts! Birds break out in song early in the morning, showing off their varied tunes and amazing vocal abilities. Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra were at the UVM Jericho Research Forest at 5:30 a.m. to listen, record and explain why and how birds sing. The program may help you identify some of the birds you can pick out of the chorus.  And Kent McFarland will demonstrate how the Wood Thrush can actually sing two notes at once!

flickr: Dave Huth/8633526411

At this time of year, when you drive past a pond in Vermont, you'll hear the familiar sound of spring peepers. On this first edition of Outdoor Radio, biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra are at the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park in Woodstock, Vermont to explain how that sound is like standing near a jet engine. We'll also learn about how peepers make that sound and the amazing way they survive the winter.