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The 'American Machine' takes over FlynnSpace

BURLINGTON Hey, look theres a hermit thrush!

Not an exclamation expected from factory workers watching a barnyard porn flick on the midnight shift. And not one you will hear from Teena as she and her co-workers view a bestiality movie in Jim Lantzs new play American Machine.

But if actress Bridget Butler were there as herself rather than as her character Teena, Butler would probably identify Catharus guttatus immediately.

Not because Butler averts her eyes from anything iniquitous. Involved in community and semi-professional theater for almost 15 years, she has been the wicked stepsister Joy in Cinderella and the kidnapped, pregnant rape victim in Keely and Du.

Rather, Butlers identifying cry would spring from delight rather than diversion. Bridget Butler is a birding geek!

After earning her degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of New Hampshire, Butler has worked throughout New England as a naturalist for 15 years. She is now the Conservation Education Coordinator for Audubon Vermont and is one of only two National Audubon Certified Teacher\Naturalists in the country. She also hosts the weekly BEEKSA Birding Geeks Radio Delight, WMRW-LPs eclectic talk-show (and podcast) focusing on bird watching and bird conservation issues in Vermont.

Not only would Butler excitedly point out the hermit thrush (Vermonts state bird), she would doubtless emphasize that the population of the finest songster in North America has sadly declined 63 percent since 1967. And she would underscore that the wood thrush, a similar-looking species, is one of the Birders Dozen, 12 birds that the Audubon Vermont Forest Bird Initiative is working hard to publicize and protect. For more info, go to vt.audubon.org .

The American Machine cast is well aware of Butlers bird expertise. Jim Lantzs fascinating blog tracing the development of American Machine contains an anecdote that Butler told the troupe about her recent trip to Maine. While sitting around a nighttime campfire with family and friends, Butler says she was able to fill the surrounding trees with owls responding to her calls.

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