West Rutland Marsh IBA

Tips for Birding

Birdwatching in Vermont, p. 76.

The West Rutland Marsh is a designated Important Bird Area having met the necessary Vermont ornithological criteria as essential habitat for one or more species of birds. With the sustainability of the marsh in mind, Audubon in partnership with the Town of West Rutland and State and Federal agencies has already established certain conservation and easement plans for the watershed while continuing to advocate for their expansion.

The West Rutland Marsh is more than a boardwalk, it is more than the birds that find sanctuary in the marsh, it is more than the marsh itself, it is an interdependent community of plants, animals, and soils, and the waters that sustain them and we the people with our awesome potential to affect change.

Birds of Interest

Special birds of West Rutland Marsh include Virginia Rail and Sora as well as American Bittern and Marsh Wren. If you listen carefully, you may hear Least Bittern and, if you are really lucky, you’ll catch a quick glimpse of one. This is one of the few places in Vermont the Least Bittern can be found reliably in season.

Even more rare is the Sedge Wren, with only a handful of records. In May of 2009, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, way off course, put in an appearance. Just two days prior, one was observed in Arlington, Vermont.

West Rutland Marsh hosts waterfowl, rails, and other wetland birds and provides breeding habitats for several rare and priority species. Most notably perhaps, the elusive Least Bittern, one of Vermont’s rarest known breeders, inhabits the marsh’s cattail edges along with American Bittern. Other important species include Virginia Rail, Sora, Pied-billed Grebe, Common Moorhen, and Blue-winged Warbler. The state-endangered Sedge Wren has nested here and Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Bobolink, Marsh Wren, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo have all occurred here as well.

About West Rutland Marsh Important Bird Area

See all hotspots at West Rutland Marsh Important Bird Area

West Rutland Marsh is a long, narrow, and extensive cattail marsh and associated upland fields along the Castleton River just north of the town of West Rutland. It is bordered and crossed by roads on all sides and by old marble quarries on the east. Natural Communities include Cattail Marsh and Buttonbush Swamp.

Parts of the West Rutland Marsh have been protected at both the local and state level. However, the marsh has been used perennially as a dump. Rutland County Audubon has conducted annual clean-up days and has initiated “Marsh Appreciation Day” in conjunction with a citizen committee and the town government. A new boardwalk for wildlife viewing was installed in 2003. The proximity of housing and some industry is always a potential source of water pollution. Development is another potential problem for the marsh.

Notable Trails

The TrailFinder website has a description and map of a hike at West Rutland Marsh.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Entrance fee

  • Roadside viewing

Content from West Rutland Marsh Important Bird Area Official Website and Susan Elliott, Rutland County Audubon Society