In Memory of Chris Pratt

Posted on Sunday 30 April 2017

The Mad Birders are sad to announce the passing of a beloved member of our birding community, Chris Pratt, who left this world on March 20, 2017. Indubitably the ‘better half’ of Team Pipit, Chris was the constant companion of her husband Fred, of 61 years. Chris was affectionately known to the Mad Birders as “Mrs. Pipit”, and could reliably be seen in the driver’s seat whenever Team Pipit was off chasing birds, which was most of the time. In addition to being an excellent birder, Chris was a world traveler, an opera buff and an excellent cook. We will miss her eloquence, her charm, her generosity and her quick wit. Fortunately, we have the recipe for her Syrian Nutmeg Cake, featured at many Mad Birder Pot Luck Celebrations. We look forward to serving it again in her memory. May your spirit soar forever upward on gossamer wings.

Jeannie Elias @ 10:56 am
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Remembering Ave Haviland

Posted on Tuesday 16 August 2016


The Mad Birders lost one of their own earlier this month as our dear friend Ave Haviland passed from this life into the next. An enthusiastic birder, Ave was also knowledgeable about wildflowers and native plants. She and her late husband Walt were avid hikers and skiers even as they entered their 80’s. Ave especially loved cycling with the local biking group known as the “Silver Streakers” and lamented when she had to decline a bird walk because of a conflict with a Silver Streakers ride.  Ave enjoyed watching birds at her feeders as much as she loved seeing them in the field. Many Mad Birders looked forward to regular chats with Ave to exchange the latest news on what we had seen at our bird feeders during the winter months. We will miss the twinkle in your pretty blue eyes Ave, and will always remember you in your Periwinkle Blue Mad Birders Hat.

Jeannie Elias @ 8:51 am
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Pony Farm Road Walk – Birding before the Deluge

Posted on Sunday 5 June 2016

Thanks to the generosity of our hosts: Cory and Chris Stephenson, the Mad Birders enjoyed a field trip to the old Pony Farm property on Pony Farm Road in Moretown. Varied habitat including fields, river corridor, meadows, wetlands and forests produced a wide array of species. Participants practiced birding by ear skills and several sharp eyed birders spied a Savannah Sparrow on a ground nest, and after the adult flew off, we witnessed the tiny mouths of young nestlings still in the nest. The rains began as we concluded our walk and what’s more fun than birding in the rain anyway?IMG_0308

Jeannie Elias @ 7:31 pm
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Birding By Ear Workshop Sunday May 22nd at 4PM

Posted on Tuesday 17 May 2016

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) perched on a branch and singing in Long Point, Ontario, Canada.

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) perched on a branch and singing.

Join the Mad Birders and the Moretown Memorial Library on Sunday May 22nd at 4PM for a two-part workshop to learn about birding by ear. Whether you are an experienced bird watcher or just at the beginning of this delightful life long hobby, this workshop is for you. Meet at the Moretown Elementary School Library at 4PM on Sunday May 22nd and join Cory Stephenson and Jeannie Elias to learn some tips and tricks for listening to and identifying birdsong.  For the second half of the workshop we will head outside to the field on Sunday June 5th at 7:30 am to 182 Pony Farm Road in Moretown to practice our newly learned skills. Both events are free and open to the public. For details contact Cory at 496-9728 or Jeannie at

Jeannie Elias @ 6:01 am
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Mad Birders Flock to State Farm Property in Duxbury

Posted on Sunday 15 May 2016

More than a dozen Mad Birders plus representatives of the Duxbury Land Trust took in the avian wonders of the State Farm Property on 5/14/16

More than a dozen Mad Birders plus representatives of the Duxbury Land Trust took in the avian wonders of the State Farm Property on 5/14/16

Jeannie Elias @ 4:11 pm
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Spring Birding is HERE!

Posted on Sunday 8 May 2016

Black-throated-Green-Warbler-1440x1035Spring migration is underway, and the Mad Birders are the beneficiaries of this marvelous annual miracle. Black-Throated Green Warblers (pictured above) have returned to the Mad River Valley, along with many other colorful warblers and songbirds. We have walks scheduled throughout the month of May. Join Jeannie Elias on Thursday mornings at 7am for our Thursday Mornings in May series, or on Saturdays. Zac Cota will be leading a walk on the State Farm Property in Duxbury on May 14th and Nancy Turner will lead a walk at Knoll Farm in Fayston on May 21st. We will also be co-sponsoring a Birding by Ear workshop and birdwalk with the Moretown Library on May 22nd and June 5th in Moretown. Check the calendar for details or email us at

Happy Birding!


Jeannie Elias @ 1:37 pm
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Come Join the Mad Birders for a Woodcock Walk – Thursday 4/14 at 7:30PM

Posted on Tuesday 12 April 2016

American Woodcock

Come join us this Thursday 4/14 at 7:30PM to look for and listen for American Woodcocks, who will be doing their fantastic mating ritual. Meet at the cemetery on Freeman Hill Road in Moretown. For details consult the calendar or email




Jeannie Elias @ 7:17 am
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116th Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Posted on Sunday 15 November 2015

Common Redpolls in Winter Photo by Ian Clark

Common Redpolls in Winter
Photo by Ian Clark

The Mad Birders will be participating in the 116th Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Our circle includes parts of the Mad River Valley, Roxbury, Northfield and Berlin (Pond) and our count day this year is Friday, December 18th. Teams of Mad Birders will set out at first light in whatever weather nature gives us that day to count as many birds as they can see or hear on predetermined routes throughout our circle. Our statistics will become part of one of the longest running citizen science projects in history, which gathers data on the presence or absence of various species of birds throughout the world. After our day in the field we will gather together for a sumptuous pot luck supper to report on the birds we found, swap stories and celebrate nature and friendship. All are welcome to participate.

Please contact





Jeannie Elias @ 10:34 am
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Join the Mad Birders for an Autumn Birdwalk and Brunch on Saturday 10/10/15

Posted on Saturday 26 September 2015

The Mad Birders will be holding an Autumn Birdwalk at 7:30am on Saturday October 10th at the home of Jeannie Elias and Craig Goss on Center Fayston Road. Songbird migration will mostly be over but we will see what we can, and then circle back to Jeannie’s for a Mad Birder Brunch. We will be celebrating birds, community AND the recent nuptials of Mad Birder Founder Pat Folsom and her beloved, Sei Tokuda in September out in New Mexico. Join us. For details call Jeannie at 496-4730.

Jeannie Elias @ 5:24 pm
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4th Annual Mad Birder ‘Big Morning’ is a Big Success!

Posted on Wednesday 27 May 2015

Big Morning 2015

Well, the 4th Annual “Mad Birders Big Morning and Birder BBQ” is in the books.

And this one proved to be just as satisfying and surprising as its three cousins.
Today, 58 people from across Vermont (and a couple from Connecticut), spanning ages from 12 to 81 gathered to bird CrossHaven Farm in Moretown, and enjoy some mighty tasty breakfast and lunch fare.
The group split up into five groups with Jeannie Elias, Pat Folsom, Zac Cota-Weaver, Ali Wagner and Ken Copenhaver doing navigator duties around the property.
Sixty four species were tallied.  A bit less than some years.  But it was cold!!! — and as Ken said, “The bugs aren’t out, so the birds aren’t out”.  Even so, the groups were treated to some good sightings.  A Peregrine Falcon offered good views to one group.  Several Parulas were present.  Blackburnians were everywhere in the woods.  Happily, Bob-o-links were found in the fields.  Alder and Willow Flycatchers said hello.  A Brown Thrasher provided singing accompaniment.  And, Pat Sainsbury’s many Hummingbird feeders were humming.  At one point there were eight at the feeders in the back yard, and, at the same time, a even more in the front yard!  Everyone had close encounters of the pointy-nosed kind as the hummers went about their business jousting with each other at the feeders on the porch — with birders standing just inches under them.
But, the big surprise for this year was a magical appearance by a pair of Evening Grosbeaks!  As we were drinking coffee and getting organized, the pair (male and female) flew in out of nowhere, landed on the tube feeder in the front yard, not more than a few feet away from 40 birders, and only 3’ off the ground.  They sat and chatted with each other, enjoyed a little breakfast, and disappeared up over the house and out the back.   Zac asked, “What do you do, pay for these birds to show up?”   I checked ebird, and I have not recorded one on the property since 2011!  It all happened so mysteriously, at such close range and with so many people completely spell-bound and silent that is was one of those moments that 10 minutes later you’re asking, “Did I really just see that?”  Indeed we did.  Really wonderful.
As always, we joined together to celebrate the birds and natural world we so appreciate.  And, once again, everyone was generous with donations for the great programs at North Branch Nature Center and Vermont Center for Eco-studies.  For the fourth time, we raised over $1,000 that will be divided between those organizations.  Amy Butler and Larry Clarfeld were present from NBNC.  Amy is Director of all Education Programs at the Center, and shared with us some delightful stories from the incredible ECO (Educating Children Outdoors) program that NBNC runs in seven Central Vermont schools.  Thanks Amy!
Many, many thanks to everyone who came and shared their friendship and their generosity on a beautiful Memorial Day Weekend morning.  It was a great day.
If you missed this year, hopefully you will join the Mad Birders next year for the 5th annual event!

Scott Sainsbury
for the Mad Birders
Jeannie Elias @ 8:24 pm
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