Journal archives for November 2021

02 November, 2021

October 2021 Photo-observation of the Month: Hairy Woodpecker

A Hairy Woodpecker with a bill deformity appears to investigate its reflection in a mirrored surface. © Craig Hunt

Congratulations to iNaturalist user Craig Hunt for winning the October 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. His photo of a Hairy Woodpecker with a bill deformity appearing to ponder her reflection in a pane of glass received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

Bill deformities such as this are the result of a disease known as Avian Keratin Disorder (AKD) which affects many species of birds and often results in uncontrolled beak growth to the point where the upper and lower mandibles completely cross over. Sadly, AKD increases bird mortality due to the increased difficulty of feeding and preening with a deformed bill, though it seems that this individual at least has been able to find enough food to survive to adulthood even with its severely crossed bill.

A team of researchers at the United States Geological Survey’s Alaska Biological Science Center have been studying birds with AKD since 1999, compiling reports of birds with deformed bills and looking for patterns and potential causes. Recently, they discovered that a virus known as Poecivirus could be linked to AKD. Species such as Black-capped Chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and others that often visit bird feeders seem to rarely but regularly suffer from AKD. If you encounter any birds with wonky bills at your feeders, be sure to report them to this USGS site.

With 10,818 observations submitted by 1,303 observers in October, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Posted on 02 November, 2021 16:23 by nsharp nsharp | 1 comment | Leave a comment

04 November, 2021

Join the Vermont Silk Moth Cocoon Watch This Month!

As November begins, we enter stick season, surrounded by the bare​ ​twigs of deciduous trees and shrubs. However, the lack of leaves reveals other jewels, if you know where to look for them—giant silk moth cocoons​.​ Giant silk moths (Saturniidae) are massive by moth standards, including the well-known Luna Moth (Actias luna). In Vermont, five species in this group have been recorded: Luna Moth, Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus), Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia), Promethea Moth (Callosamia promethea), and Columbia Moth (Hyalophora columbia).

These species overwinter as pupa, wrapped snugly in their silken cocoons.​ ​This November, ​the Vermont Atlas of Life is asking you all to join ​our Cocoon Watch ​on iNaturalist by locating and ​photographing giant silk moth cocoons​. Learn more about the project and how to find/ ID cocoons at and join us on iNaturalist ​at

Posted on 04 November, 2021 14:02 by jpupko jpupko | 0 comments | Leave a comment

10 November, 2021

Reminder: The Cocoon Watch has begun!

It's November, and the VAL team has kicked off the giant silk moth cocoon watch. To join this project, click the link here and select "Join" in the upper right hand corner of the page. Be sure to check out our recent journal post on locating silk moth cocoons and adding more information to your iNaturalist posts! View this post by clicking the link here .

Happy cocooning!

Posted on 10 November, 2021 23:52 by jpupko jpupko | 0 comments | Leave a comment

30 November, 2021

Cocoon Watch is being extended through December

Hello everyone!

The Giant Silk Moth Cocoon Watch is being extended through December 31, 2021! We hope that this will give a greater number of people time to participate. If you have not already joined the iNaturalist project and would like to do so, you can join the project here. Visit the VAL Cocoon Watch page here to learn more about cocoon ID and where to find them.

Stay tuned for future cocoon-related events!

Posted on 30 November, 2021 14:51 by jpupko jpupko | 0 comments | Leave a comment