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Kent McFarland

Kent McFarland



A co-founder of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, I am a conservation biologist, photographer, writer and naturalists with over 20 years of experience across the Americas. My writing and images have appeared widely in magazines, newspapers and mobile field guides. I have coauthored over 25 scientific journal articles and book chapters as well as a field guide to the birds of Hispaniola. I have an extensive photographic library of butterflies, wildflowers, trees and other flora and fauna of the Northeast as well as other areas of North America that continues to grow. My artistic passion is centered on black and white photography that I first fell in love with years ago in college during a few sleepless nights in the dark room. You can see more of my work at

American Oystercatcher Winter

Published November 17th, 2012

The American Oystercatcher's long bill is specialized for prying open bivalves (oysters, mussels, clams, etc.). The eastern race has been identified as an extremely high conservation priority by the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan. The rationale for this designation is based on population estimates that are less than 25,000 birds as well as threats posed by the degradation and disturbance of beach nesting habitat. For more information on conservation of this unique bird, check out the American Oystercatcher Working Group at

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Gannets of Bonaventure Island

Published October 31st, 2012

The Bonaventure Island Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) colony grew by about 3% annually from the turn of the century until the mid-1960s, when its numbers fell by almost 25% in ten years, at the same time that the Newfoundland colonies were remaining stable. Scientists discovered that high concentrations of residual organochlorine substances detected in gannet eggs, including dieldrin and DDT, were responsible for the low reproductive rate. It was only in 1984 that numbers returned to near the 1966 levels, after having reached a low of 16,400 pairs in 1976. The colony has grown ever since to grow ever since, expanding from 24,125 pairs in 1989 to a population of over 60,000 pairs today, the largest colony in the world.

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Logging with Horses

Published October 21st, 2012

The Mount Tom forest is the oldest professionally managed forest in the United States. Forest management on Mount Tom began in 1869 when Frederick Billings purchased the land from the Marsh family and established an estate that would serve as a model of wise stewardship. Billings’s granddaughter, Mary, and her husband, Laurance S. Rockefeller, sustained this stewardship approach and entrusted the National Park Service to continue forest management on the property.

Recently, Ben Canonica and his team of horses, Roz and Jo, allowed me to follow them and capture how they carefully harvest trees in Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park for firewood, pulp and lumber.

For more information about the park and forestry management, visit

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The Man Behind the Mate

Published September 24th, 2012

Its hard to forget the oppressive summer heat in Paraguay. Terere, an ice cold tea made of Yerba Mate, was my only antidote. Circa 1990 while serving in the Peace Corps we visited a small, rural factory that processed Yerba Mate, the national beverage of Paraguay. In order to prepare the leaves for steeping like tea, they were baked over a wood furnace as they spun in a giant tub much like a clothes drier. This man's job was to to keep that furnace in the basement stoked red hot, like the Paraguayan sun.

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Fire in the Lighthouse

Published August 22nd, 2012

On a cool August day with thick fog drifting around us we headed out to the lighthouse perched on cliffs worn by the sea. The fog horn blew deep and loudly every few minutes. Tacked to the outside of the tower was the history. The Swallowtail Lighthouse was first lit in 1860 in response to a terrible shipwreck just a few years before. But what caught my attention was the story of fire.

In August of 1936 Elodie Foster was tending the Swallowtail lighthouse while her husband was at the other end of Grand Manan at the Southwest Head Lighthouse. She overfilled the alcohol burner in the lantern room. When she attempted to ignite the burner her clothes burst into flames. She managed to make it down the tower stairs and outside where her son and two daughters helped her. He son raced up the tower and put out the flames before the fire spread. Sadly, Elodie died the following day from her burns.

It might have been the fog, the moan of the horn, or the solitude of the place. Maybe it was my ...

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