The Hermit Thrush

The Newsletter of the Green Mountain Audubon Society

Hermit ThrushWelcome to the newsletter of the Green Mountain Audubon Society. In this newsletter we hope to provide you with timely, informative articles about birds and birding in Vermont as well as current news about the activities of the GMAS. We welcome your comments and suggestions for improving this publication. Contact Us

The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont

Have you seen it? Snowy Owl? Nope. The Northern Hawk Owl? No, no. The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont-it's a beauty. Expertly edited by Roz Renfrew from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the Atlas is a birder's tour de force. This book represents the work of over 350 volunteers over the five year time span from 2003-2008, making it the largest citizen-science initiative ever attempted in Vermont. At 548 pages and 5 1/2 pounds the Atlas contains a treasure trove of information that will delight birders and conservationists alike. For my money the Atlas is the best book written about Vermont's birds in over twenty-five years, that is since the First Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont was published in 1985.

The introductory chapters cover the methods used to obtain the data, an introduction to Vermont's biogeology, and a description of the changes in Vermont's landscape during the past century that have affected Vermont's bird life. A must read chapter entitled Bird Conservation in Vermont identifies the primary threats aimed at Vermont's birds and discusses the strategies that might be implemented to ameliorate these threats. Invasive species, habitat loss, predators, and, of course, climate change are among the threats that will challenge Vermont's birds in the future.

But the heart of the book resides in the 200 plus species accounts that appear in the Atlas. Written by local experts, including the editor herself, the species accounts provide a detailed snapshot of the status of every breeding bird in Vermont. Each article contains text, easy to interpret graphs and tables, a map showing the population distribution of each bird, and gorgeous photographs. The photographs themselves are worth the price of the book. These summaries are not intended to  be read through in one sitting. Rather, they are intended to be savored one-by-one as Vermont's birds return to their breeding grounds.