Outdoor Radio

A turkey vulture soars over the National Life building in Montpelier.
Kent McFarland, courtesy / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

Outdoor Radio usually takes us to a mountain top,  pond or forest to get close to wildlife. But this month, biologists Sara Zahendra and Kent McFarland are on top of an office building in Montpelier. For the past several years, National Life employees have been able to watch turkey vultures out their windows. The birds are drawn to the rooftop for warmth and show off their huge wingspan soaring around the building. We learn how to identify turkey vultures from other big birds and how it is that they can eat roadkill and not get sick.

Bald eagle nests can be six to ten feet across and weight several hundred pounds.
Kent McFarland, courtesy / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

We are awed by the size, beauty and power of the bald eagle but Ben Franklin described it as a bird of "bad moral character. He doesn't get his living honestly and besides, he is a rank coward."

Kent McFarland captured this photo of a snowy owl in Killington.
Kent McFarland / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

As cold as it might get in Vermont, it's warm here to the snowy owl. They spend their summers in the Arctic Tundra. These are large owls, with a wingspan of five feet and striking yellow eyes. Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra, of the Vermont Center For Ecostudies, went in search of a snowy owl at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison. We learn why it's a good year for spotting them in Vermont and what to do if you see one.

Find more info, video and photos at the links below:

A Great Black-Backed Gull calling among Herring Gulls at Grow Compost in Waterbury.
Kent McFarland, courtesy / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

Gulls are found on every continent on the planet. They're smart, resourceful, and graceful - but don't call them sea gulls! There are inland species, even some that live in the desert. Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra of the Vermont Center For Ecostudies, are joined by birder, Bryan Pfeiffer at Grow Compost in Waterbury. Hundreds of gulls (and other birds) hang out amid this huge expanse of compost enjoying an endless feast.

See more photos and learn about gulls in Vermont at the links below:

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.

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.

The White-winged Crossbill eats thousands of conifer seeds each day.
Kent McFarland, courtesy / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

In this episode of Outdoor Radio, biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra are way up in the Northeast Kingdom at Moose Bog in Ferdinand.

An Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle hatchling is ready to be released into the water.
Kent McFarland, courtesy / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

With a pointed snout, knobby protrusions, and a flat, leathery shell, the Spiny Softshell Turtle is certainly one of Vermont's odder-looking reptiles. It is also listed as threatened in our state. Steve Parren of the Vermont Fish And Wildlife Department joins Sara Zahendra and Kent McFarland to talk about the Spiny Softshell's biology, habitat and some of the threats faced by Vermont's only aquatic turtle.

An adult loon keeps a watchful eye on Lake Fairlee in West Fairlee, Vermont.
Kent McFarland, courtesy / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

The Vermont Center For Ecostudies reported a record year for Vermont's loons in 2017, and part of the success story happened on Lake Fairlee, where a pair of loons nested for the second consecutive year. Biologists Kent McFarland, Sara Zahendra and Eric Hanson headed out in canoes to take a look at the nesting sites.

Alyssa Bennett, a small mammal biologist with the Vermont Fish And Wildlife Department, shows the difference in size between the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat.
Kent McFarland, courtesy / Vermont Center For Ecostudies

A bat will eat about half its weight in insects on a summer night, and it can live more than 30 years. That's a lot of insects! But unfortunately, the disease called white-nose syndrome has taken a huge toll on Vermont's bat 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.

Kent McFarland / Vermont Center For Ecostudies.

Porcupines can have as many as 30,000 quills on their bodies, but contrary to the popular myth, they do not 'shoot' them at enemies.  They feast on hemlock branches and are preyed upon by fishers.

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

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

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

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.

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. 

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. 

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