Chapter Newsletter - The Harbinger

Programs and Field Trips

AMAS Fall Program - Common Nighthawks

Female Common Nighthawk with two chicks. Photo by Pam Hunt.

Female Common Nighthawk with two chicks. Photo by Pam Hunt.

Date and Time:  Friday, October 26, 2018 at 7 pm

Location: UU Church in Springfield, VT (directions below)

Longtime residents of the Connecticut River Valley may remember the foraging flights of Common Nighthawks over our towns and villages. Sadly, few if any Common Nighthawks are seen routinely anymore on summer evenings.  The Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas conducted in 2003 to 2007 found a 91% loss from the 1976-1981 atlas. One of the reasons for the decline in breeding birds was “Loss of preferred nesting areas, especially gravel on flat-roofed buildings”.

Despite this grim news, all is not lost. Common Nighthawks may be seen as they migrate south through the Connecticut River Valley in August and September. What can we do to bring the Common Nighthawks back to the Connecticut River Valley as breeding birds? Come and hear NH Audubon’s Becky Suomala on October 26 to find out! A description of her talk follows, with some links with information about Common Nighthawks. The program is free and open to all. Refreshments will follow.

Join NH Audubon’s Becky Suomala for a program about the Common Nighthawk. Nighthawks are declining throughout their range and biologists do not know why. The dawn and dusk “peent” call of these birds was once a familiar sound in cities and towns throughout New Hampshire, where they nested on flat, pea stone gravel roofs and fed on insects attracted to city lights. New Hampshire Audubon initiated Project Nighthawk in 2007 to investigate the potential for restoring nesting nighthawks by placing simple gravel “nest patches” on flat rooftops. Find out what we’ve learned about patches and nesting nighthawks and see photos of nests and chicks. Becky Suomala is a biologist with NH Audubon and the coordinator of Project Nighthawk.

Learn more about Common Nighthawks at:

Driving Directions to UU Church located at 21 Fairground Road, Springfield, VT 05156

From I-91 and New Hampshire: Take Route 11 West into Springfield. Follow Route 11 through downtown and take a left at the shopping Plaza. Turn right onto Fairground Road right after Riverside Middle School . Church is on the right after Riverside Middle School.

From South and West: Route 11 East into Springfield. Turn left onto Fairground Road just before Riverside Middle School. Church is on the right after Riverside Middle School.

From North and West: Route 106 into Springfield. Turn right onto Route 11 West. Turn right onto Fairground Road right after Riverside Middle School. Church is on the right after Riverside Middle School.

Christmas Bird Counts

Saturday Dec. 15 Saxtons River Count: meet at Allen Brothers on Route 5 at 6:45 AM for route assignments. Please contact Don Clark if you will be joining the count group this year at 802-843-2347 or

Sunday Dec. 16 Springfield Count: meet at Springfield McDonalds at 6:45 for route assignments. Please contact Hugh Putnam if you will be joining the count group this year at 802-886-8430 or

Noteworthy Event

Americorps NCCC Team at the North Springfield Bog

On Saturday, 24 August 2018, an Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) team cleared vegetation that had overgrown portions of the bog boardwalk. This clearance was long overdue as portions of the boardwalk were impassable. (AMAS board members had attempted the clearance last spring, but left most of the job incomplete due to the strenuous nature of the work). The connection between AMAS and Americorps NCCC was made at the July BioBlitz at Hoyt’s Landing when Nick Skarmeas, a Corps Member, approached AMAS to offer services related to a local environmental stewardship project. Needless to say, the offer was very welcome.

The Americorps NCCC team made up of Emily Brough, Kyla Cahal, Darius Leiba, and Fisher Ream was a wellspring of youthful enthusiasm and strength. The team was pleased to provide this service; each of them commented on the unique and special environment of the bog. None of them had seen a bog prior to their visit; now they can say that they have been in a bog, literally!

AMAS sincerely thanks these wonderful young adults for their dedication to service. See pictures below:



Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society selected Sadie Wood from Green Mountain High School as the recipient of its 2018 $1,300 scholarship.  The scholarship is awarded to a graduating high school senior who lives within certain Vermont designated towns and has demonstrated a strong commitment to the environment.  Students are required to submit an application to the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) during the annual application time period.


Sadie plans to attend Duke University this fall and will be studying environmental engineering. Sadie says, “I plan to use my environmental engineering degree to help make the world a better place. A degree in environmental engineering is at the intersection of my interests in science and civic engagement. I believe that with this study I can combine these passions and gain the understanding of our planet and its processes that I need to find solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.”
Sadie has been involved in community service since she was very young and has been very active in the Interact Club, which is a branch of Rotary International.  She helped start an annual Interact community service trip to Nicaragua.  She said that her trip there “helped her to understand the value of helping others and our environment.”
Sadie thanked AMAS saying,” I am very grateful to AMAS for their generosity in awarding me this scholarship. It means so much to me.” AMAS congratulates Sadie and wishes her much success in her environmental studies and college career!  

For more information about the annual AMAS college scholarship, please contact Wilda Pelton at 802-885-9517 or consult with your school guidance department for information on VSAC scholarships.

AMAS also offers scholarships to youth and adults for attendance at conservation and nature camps this summer. Camps include those offered by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and by Audubon at Hog Island in Maine. Please contact Ellen Allman ( to apply for a scholarship. Scholarships are from a fund established in memory of Wally Beals.