Nestled in the heart of Middlebury, Vermont, Swift House Inn offers a unique opportunity to witness some of the state’s most fascinating bird species right from the comfort of your own room. From the majestic White-Breasted Nuthatch to the energetic Tufted Titmouse, the variety of birds that can be seen from the windows of the Carriage House, Gate House, and our Main House is truly remarkable. Join us on a journey to explore the birdlife that surrounds our charming inn.
Let’s start with the Downy Woodpecker and the Black-Capped Chickadee. These two birds are often found together and are easily recognizable with their contrasting black and white feathers. Downy Woodpeckers are common in yards and woodlots, often coming to feeders. They have the undulating flight pattern of many woodpeckers, alternating quick wingbeats with folding the wings against the body, and then dropping into a short glide.
As for the Black-Capped Chickadee, Audubon describes them as “social birds that are quick to investigate bird feeders, and easy to recognize by their bold black caps and bibs, white cheeks, gray backs, and whitish undersides.”
Next up, we have the Tufted Titmouse, which is a small, gray bird with a distinctive tuft of feathers on its head. They are among the most agile of the songbirds, able to hang upside-down on branches and descend tree trunks headfirst with ease. It’s no wonder why these tiny creatures are so beloved by birdwatchers!
Another bird that can be spotted at Swift House Inn is the White-Breasted Nuthatch. These birds also have a unique habit of climbing down trees headfirst, while searching for insects and seeds to eat. National Geographic describes their calls as “nasal and emphatic,” making them easy to identify.
Of course, we can’t forget the House Finch, which can be seen in both male and female variations at our inn. A recent introduction from western into eastern North America, these colorful birds are best known for their sweet, warbling songs and can often be seen perched on tree branches or feeding on seeds at bird feeders.
Though a common site in Vermont the House Finch is known for its cheerful song and bright plumage. Male House Finches have a red head and breast…
…while females have a more subdued brown and white coloration. Finches are common at backyard feeders and they’re quick to take advantage of any free meal. At Swift House Inn, you can see House Finches feeding on seeds as their colorful feathers add a splash of contrast to the garden.
The Plant Life
The Shadbush tree, also known as Serviceberry, is a beautiful and important tree species found in Middlebury. In the spring, it produces stunning white flowers that attract a variety of birds, including Robins, Bluebirds, and Cedar Waxwings.
As the flowers turn into fruit in the summer, the Shadbush becomes an important source of food for many bird species, such as the American Goldfinch and the Eastern Bluebird. These birds not only feed on the fruit, but also use the tree as a nesting site. According to the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the Shadbush is a “keystone plant” that supports a diverse community of birds and other wildlife. It’s clear that this beautiful tree has an important role to play in the ecosystem of our town.
Flowering Quince and Solomon’s Seal are two common shrubs found in New England that provide food and habitat for various bird species. Flowering Quince produces small, apple-like fruits that attract birds like Cedar Waxwings, Northern Mockingbirds, and American Robins. These birds are known to devour the fruits of this shrub in large quantities, particularly during the winter months when food sources are scarce. Solomon’s Seal, on the other hand, produces small blue-black berries that are enjoyed by birds such as Swainson’s Thrushes, Hermit Thrushes, and American Robins.
These birds not only consume the fruit but also use the shrub’s foliage as cover for nesting and resting. Overall, these two shrubs play an important role in supporting the bird population in New England.
There’s an App For That?
When birdwatching in the wild, it can be difficult to identify all of the different species you come across. Luckily, there are several online apps available that can help you identify birds based on their features and location. Some popular bird identification apps include Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab, iBird Pro Guide to Birds, and Audubon Bird Guide. These apps use advanced algorithms and machine learning to quickly and accurately identify bird species. So, next time you come across a bird you can’t identify, simply pull out your smartphone to collect and identify birds to your Bird Library.