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Vote for the Conte!

Posted on Mar 21, 2015

This special edition Winter Bird Forecast #8 is brought to you by Audubon Connecticut in partnership with the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.


USA Today is currently running a poll to determine the top 10 National Wildlife Refuges in the country. We have a chance to highlight the Connecticut River and the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. You can vote once a day through noon on Monday March 30th. Please take a few moments and help to highlight this special Refuge by voting here:

To learn more about the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge please use the numbered links below.
The above snowshoe hare was photographed by Lloyd W. Alexander at the Pondicherry Division of the Conte Refuge in Coos County New Hampshire. https://www.facebook.com/pondicherryfriends

Feature Photo of the alpenglow on the Presidential Range taken at the Pondicherry Division by David Govatski



From the Roof of New England

The Connecticut River Watershed is a great place to highlight the changes of spring. While it is feeling like spring at the mouth of the river, winter is still in full control in the headwaters of the Connecticut River in northern New Hampshire. Eventually spring will come to all of everywhere.  No matter the time of year the northern divisions of the Conte are a great place to see the iconic wildlife of Northern New England like the moose, black bear, American marten or Canada lynx (if you’re really lucky!).

Moose at the Pondicherry Division, photo credit David Govatski, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Don’t forget to vote every day! http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-national-wildlife-refuge/silvio-o-conte-national-fish-and-wildlife-refuge/

To learn more about the Conte, please see the Friends of Conte Facebook page:


Great Variety

The Refuge comprises the entire 7.2 million acre Connecticut River Watershed from Vermont and New Hampshire, through central Massachusetts and Connecticut to the mouth of the river in Old Saybrook and Old Lyme. While the Refuge does not own (nor will it ever) all of this land, the Conte is a Refuge unlike any other.   A key tenant of the Refuge is partnership, working together with states, municipalities, universities, non-profit partners and private landowners to achieve our common goals for a vibrant and healthy river and watershed which benefit wildlife and people alike.   The Refuge and partners work from the boreal forests of the north to the grasslands of central New England to the globally important tidal marshes of the lower river to keep the Connecticut River one of America’s special places!

Bobolinks nest in abundance at the Fort River Division in Hadley Massachusetts.


More than 50 Years of Success

Fifty years ago the Connecticut River was so degraded it was called America’s best landscape sewer. Today it is a haven for hundreds of species of birds, abundant migratory fish and a thriving outdoor recreation industry. Like the Bald Eagle the Connecticut River has made a tremendous comeback. Winter and early spring is a great time to see our nation’s symbol along the Connecticut River. Many dozens of eagles call the Connecticut River home in the winter and each year there seems to be a new eagle nest discovered along the river.

This Bald Eagle was photographed in Hartford.


A Welcome Addition

Next time you find yourself in the Hadley, Massachusetts area be sure to stop by the new universal access tail on Moody Bridge Road. Both the views and the birding are spectacular!
For more information on the Fort River Division and the partnership that is making this place even more special: http://www.gazettenet.com/home/15959537-95/at-silvio-o-conte-national-fish-and-wildlife-refuge-partnerships-key-to-conservation-efforts


Great Place to Transition to Spring!

The Connecticut River is a great place to catch waterfowl and other waterbirds as they head back to their northern wintering grounds. You never know what you will see along the river this time of year as these birds race the melting ice to be the first to arrive on the prime nesting grounds. This Northern Pintail was photographed on Barton Cove in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Other great places to see these birds are Wethersfield Cove, the Barnes Boat Launch in Enfield and Ferry Park in Rocky Hill.


Connecticut’s Slice of the Conte

Connecticut hosts four units of the Conte Refuge, the largest of which is the Salmon River Division in East Haddam. The Refuge’s holdings contribute to a landscape of more than 1,000 acres of protected land where the Salmon River meets the Connecticut. An important wintering area for thousands of waterfowl and an important rest stop on the Atlantic Flyway for migratory landbirds this special place will remain so for future generations of people and wildlife alike!


A bit of Canada

The northern divisions of the Refuge are a great place to see northern birds that one normally has to travel to Canada to see. Birds like this American Three-toed Woodpecker call the Nulhegan Division home. Nulhegan and Pondicherry are also great places to see birds like Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee and Spruce Grouse.

American Three-toed Woodpecker. Photo by David Govatski


Peterson’s Legacy

Roger Tory Peterson called the Connecticut River Watershed home. He had traveled all around the world but often said that the most spectacular avian phenomenon he had ever seen was the spectacle of the Tree Swallow fall migration roost on the lower Connecticut River. Dr.. Peterson’s property in Lyme is now a unit of the Conte Refuge.


Hundreds of thousands of Tree Swallows return to the marshes of the Lower Connecticut River to roost each evening in from September through October. The Conte Refuge comprises amazing natural features within reach of tens of millions of Americans, from the rooftop New England (the Pondicherry has amazing views of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range), to Canada Lynx, to boreal birds and some of the best foliage views in America at Nulhegan Basin, to one of the finest universal access trails in New England and nesting grassland birds at the Fort River Division to habitat for threatened and endangered species like the dwarf wedge mussel and the puritan tiger beetle , to Piping Plovers at the entrance to Long Island Sound.

Don’t forget to vote every day!

The Winter Bird Forecast is brought to you by Audubon Connecticut and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.

Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Connecticut
Scott Kruitbosch, Conservation & Outreach Coordinator, Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History