Mad Birders is an informal group of birding enthusiasts in the Mad River Valley and adjacent areas. Members welcome birders of all ages and abilities to participate in walks. Members meet promptly at the posted times. Walks may be through wet areas, so all are advised to wear sturdy, waterproof footwear and dress in layers for cool, rainy conditions. Bring water. Walks are scheduled for two hours on weekends and 90 minutes during the week (unless otherwise noted).
Walks are free for Mad Birders with a suggested donation for others.
Annual membership rates are available. Check the Mad Birder website
This spring and summer's walks are as follows:
Saturday, May 1 - Perry Hill, Waterbury, Graham Bates: Meet at the parking lot just beyond Ice Center (take a right off Route 2 after crossing the bridge on the south end of Waterbury Village) at 7:30 a.m. Wear sturdy footwear, bring water. Moderate uphill hike.
Thursday, May 5 -- Mad River Path, Meadow Road, Nancy Turner: Meet at Meadow Road parking lot at 7 a.m., rain or shine.
Saturday, May 8 - Crosshaven Ranch, Scott and Pat Sainsbury: Meet at Sainsbury's (2 miles north of Moretown on Route 100B, turn on Spillway Road) at 7:30 a.m.
Thursday, May 13 - Mad River Path, Tremblay Road, Jeannie Elias: Tremblay Road parking lot (near intersection of Tremblay and North Roads) at 7 a.m.
Saturday, May 16 -- Knoll Farm, Ann Day and Nancy Turner: Meet at Knoll Farm on Bragg Hill Road at 8 a.m.
Thursday, May 20 - Mad River Path at Big Picture Loop, Jeannie Elias: Meet at Big Picture parking lot at 7:30 a.m. This is also an event in the Mad River Path's Walk and Roll Event.
Sunday, May 23 - Center Fayston, Jeannie Elias: Meet at Shaw's at 7:30 a.m. to carpool to Center Fayston site.
Thursday, May 27 - Freeman Hill, Jeannie Elias: Meet at cemetery on Freeman Hill Road, Moretown, at 7 a.m.
Saturday, May 29 - Ward Hill, Fred and Chris Pratt: Meet at Pratt's on Route 100, Duxbury, at 7:30 a.m. to carpool to Ward Hill. This is a three-hour walk.
The Mad River Valley features a variety of habitats, each attracting various species of birds. Habitats include: deciduous woods (hardwoods), coniferous woods (softwoods), mixed woods, wetlands, grasslands and agricultural lands, residential, alpine (mountaintops). Most birds are active early in the morning and late afternoon. Often there is a burst of activity as the sun hits treetops.
Year-round residents include: Sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk, red-tailed hawk, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, rock dove, mourning dove, barred owl, Northern saw-whet owl, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, pileated woodpecker, blue jay, American crow, common raven, black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, red-breasted nuthatch, white-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, golden-crowned kinglet, European starling, cedar waxwing, dark-eyed junco, northern cardinal, purple finch, house finch, American goldfinch, evening grosbeak.
Spring migration begins in late February, early March, but really heats up in April and May. Some birds nest here, some are passing through to nest further north. Below is a list of Vermont arrival dates, compiled from the Vermont Field Card by Jeannie Elias. Many birders find it a useful tool. (m) indicates that birds are only seen in migration.
@SUBHEAD = April
Week 1: Osprey, yellow-bellied sapsucker, winter wren, Savannah sparrow.
Week 2: American bittern, ruby-crowned kinglet (m), hermit thrush, yellow-rumped warbler, pine warbler, palm warbler (m), swamp sparrow, white-throated sparrow
Week 3: Barn swallow, blue-headed vireo, Louisiana waterthrush.
Week 4: Long-tailed duck (m), solitary sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, chimney swift, Eastern kingbird, cliff swallow, house wren, marsh wren, brown thrasher, black-throated green warbler, black-and-white warbler, chipping sparrow.
Week 1: Ruby-throated hummingbird, least flycatcher, great-crested flycatcher, veery, wood thrush, gray catbird, warbling vireo, Nashville warbler, northern parula, yellow warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, magnolia warbler, black-throated blue warbler, blackburnian warbler, American redstart, ovenbird, northern waterthrush, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, white-crowned sparrow (m), bobolink, Baltimore oriole.
Week 2: Swainson's thrush, red-eyed vireo, Tennessee warbler (m), Philadelphia vireo (m), Cape May warbler (m), bay-breasted warbler (m), mourning warbler, Wilson's warbler (m), Canada warbler, indigo bunting, Lincoln's sparrow (m).
Week 3: Black-billed cuckoo, common nighthawk, Eastern wood-peewee, yellow-bellied flycatcher, alder flycatcher, willow flycatcher, Bicknell's thrush, cedar waxwing, blackpoll warbler.
Week 4: Common yellowthroat.