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Two New Bird Species Found in Vermont

December 17, 2015 by Kent McFarland
Band-tailed Pigeon visits a Vermont feeder. /© Maeve Kim

Band-tailed Pigeon visits a Vermont feeder. /© Maeve Kim

The Vermont Bird Records Committee (VBRC) held its 35th annual meeting in November. The VBRC reviewed 39 detailed reports of rare, out-of-season, and rare nesting species submitted by birdwatchers. Two new species of birds were discovered in Vermont as well as many other notable records.

VBRC is composed of expert birders and ornithologists from Vermont. The primary purpose is to annually validate records of birds from the state of Vermont and maintain the Vermont State Bird List. The Vermont list now includes 384 species representing 21 orders and 61 families of birds.

The first new bird species for the state in 2015 was an adult Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata) was found on 2 June, 2015 in Jericho Center, Chittenden Co. by Maeve Kim. This is the first fully documented state record with one written report and photos. The checklist with photo is on Vermont eBird to view. 

Western Meadowlark in Vermont. / © Bob Stymeist

Western Meadowlark in Vermont. / © Bob Stymeist

Later in the month, an adult male Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) was found on 24 June 2015 in breeding plumage on Lake Road in Charlotte, Chittenden Co. and submitted to the VBRC by Theodore Murin, Qing Ren, Allan Srong, Lisa Nawrocki, and Larry Haugh. This is the first fully documented state record including two written reports, photos and recorded vocalizations. Visit Vermont eBird to see the location and photographs included with the many checklists reported by birders.

There were three 2nd state records reported and verified by the VBRC. A Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) was found on 9 December 2014 in Addison County and reported to VBRC by Rodney Olsen, Zachary Saxe et al., and Maeve Kim (see Vermont eBird records). Two written reports and photos were submitted of a Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) adult found on 30 October 2015 on Thomson’s Point Road in Charlotte, Chittenden Co. by Theodore Murin, David Hoag, Richard and Dorothy Lavallee, Larry Haugh, Scott Morrical, and Jim Mead (see Vermont eBird records). A Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) was observed on 6 April, 2015 on Shard Villa Road in Middlebury, Addison Co. by Ron Payne and Ian Worley (see Vermont eBird records).

There were many more exciting finds. You can read the full 2015 annual report on the VBRC website.

We thank the entire Vermont birding community for your willingness to document these rare sightings and your efforts to improve our understanding of the distribution and abundance of birds in Vermont. Your birding prowess continues to add new knowledge about the distribution, abundance, and migration patterns of birds in the region. Please consider adding all of our bird sightings to Vermont eBird, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life.

To learn more about how you can report rare sightings, download the official Vermont State Bird Checklist, and much more, visit the VBRC website.

Vermont Bird Records Committee members:
George Clark
Ken Cox
Sue Elliott
Hector Galbraith, co-chair
Spencer Hardy
Kent McFarland, co-chair
Craig Provost
Chris Rimmer
Ruth Stewart
Allan Strong
John Sutton, co-chair
Sue Wetmore