Press-Republican

Local News

October 3, 2010

Carvings capture birds of Vermont.

(Continued)

MUSICAL CALLS

The Nesting Birds Gallery fills another large room on the second floor. Virtually every bird that has taken even brief residence in the Green Mountain State has been memorialized, usually in a lifelike pose and frequently accompanied by a nest and/or eggs. A winter diorama highlights feathered friends found in Vermont only during that season, such as the snow bunting, Bohemian waxwing and snowy owl.

Expect every common variety that you see in your backyard and then some. For starters, there's a yellow-bellied sapsucker in flight, the imposing pilieated woodpecker, and Vermont's state bird, the ground-nesting hermit thrush. An entire aisle is given over to the many warblers in the region.

For color, it's hard to beat the delicate blue, brown and white lines of the cerulean warbler or the brilliant red of a scarlet tanager. Pay attention also to the nests. I learned that great crested flycatchers use dried snakeskins in constructing their perches, while the goldfinch nest is tightly woven enough to hold water.

Use the barcode reader and listen to the calls. Appreciate the musical sounds of the northern cardinal and the melodic notes of a Baltimore oriole (not "strike three, you're out," as Marty expected). Mockingbirds are an entirely different story; these can imitate not only other birds but also a piano, barking dogs and a squeaky gate. The crow, on the other hand, sounds like a crow.

If you're impressed by the repertoire offered by your favorite club's band, consider that a Carolina wren can choose from more than three dozen tunes. And the brown thrasher has the ability to sing more than 1,100 different songs.

Read the "fun facts" on each information card. That's how we learned the eastern screech owl lives a symbiotic life in its nest with blind snakes. Belted kingfishers teach offspring to fish by dropping dead ones into the water for practice. Killdeer will fake injury to divert intruders away from their nests. And the long tongue of the hairy woodpecker has a barb at its end to help pull insects from trees.

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