ICYMI: Museum of American Bird Art’s Instagram Takeover

In case you missed it, the Museum of American Bird Art (MABA) in Canton took over the Mass Audubon Instagram feed for the week. Check out their posts below!

What To Do This Weekend: January 14-15

Up for a hike? How about an owl prowl? Or a watercolor workshop? Just a few examples of what’s happening wildlife sanctuaries this weekend.

Red-breasted nuthatch

Central Massachusetts

Winter is an excellent time of year to explore Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton with your family. Take a Winter Hike, then warm up with hot chocolate, and toast marshmallows by the campfire. (Adults and Children ages 7+, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Greater Boston

Spend time outside tracking down the different pine trees and evergreens that are found at the Boston Nature Center. During Winter Tree Identification, you will learn about the adaptations that help trees survive the harsh conditions of winter and identification techniques. Inside we will warm up while taking part in sap and leaf comparisons. (Adults, registration required)

Take a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to observe, explore, and appreciate the world around you. We’ll cover habitats across the sanctuary from wetlands to uplands as we look for wildlife, trees, shrubs, lichens, and fungi. (Adults)

Go on a Family Owl Prowl at Broadmoor in Natick and learn about owl calls, behavior, and habitat. Explore the sanctuary under moonlit skies listening for our resident screech, barred, and great horned owls. (Families, registration required)

Bird Away the Winter Blues at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Enjoy a peaceful walk in this historic and beautifully landscaped cemetery looking for winter residents and some surprises like possible yellow-bellied sapsucker and red-breasted nuthatch. (Adults, registration required)

Lend a helping hand at Habitat in Belmont as part of MLK Day of Service. Warm up by cutting firewood, shoveling out our goat yard, or other hearty projects. (All ages, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North of Boston

During the Mammals in Watercolor workshop at Ipswich River in Topsfield take a quick walk around the sanctuary to search out mammals such as white-tailed deer, red foxes, weasels, squirrels, and more. Then return to the Barn to learn different watercolor painting techniques. (Adults, registration required)

Drop in at Joppa Flats in Newburyport for Meet Backyard Birds, an up-close winter wildlife experience! You’ll learn about your own backyard birds and why they’re here while watching scientific research in action. (All ages)

More North of Boston

South of Boston

Head to Oak Knoll in Attleboro for Roots & Shoots, a program that builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and resources for creating practical solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people. (Children ages 8-13, registration required)

During Family Explorations at Stony Brook in Norfolk, join a naturalist to explore the sanctuary’s wetlands, woodlands, and winter wildlife. Bring your camera, binoculars, and curiosity for an enjoyable walk to learn about the natural history of our area as well as some of the animals and plants that can be found here. (Families, registration required)

Enjoy birding but prefer not to walk long distances? Go Birding by  Van on the south shore. We will step outside occasionally and take short walks on level ground, but no need for hiking boots! (Adults, registration required)


ICYMI: Long Pasture’s Instagram Takeover

In case you missed it, Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable took over the Mass Audubon Instagram feed last week. Check out the posts below and be sure to follow along this week to see what the Museum of American Bird Art has in store!

It may be snowing today but this is the view of Barnstable Great Marsh in spring/summer. Lying just west of Long Pasture, it covers several thousand acres adjacent to
Sandy Neck Barrier Beach. The marsh ecosystem experiences a tidal exchange of up to 14 feet and serves as an important embayment on the north side of Cape Cod. In the spring, Atlantic mackerel run
along the deep channels as they are pursued by striped bass. On shore, nesting oystercatchers forage
among the dunes while keeping a watchful eye for predators. The marsh serves as a nursery for many
species such as summer flounder and Atlantic silversides. #sanctuarytakeover #takeover #massaudubon
#getoutdoors #visitma #longpasture #barnstable #capecod #capecodlife #capecodinsta #visitcapecod
#igersmass #igersmassachusetts #scenesofmassachusetts

A photo posted by Mass Audubon (@massaudubon) on

What To Do This Weekend: January 7-8

Go on nature hikes, search for owls and hawks, make a bird feeder, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Parker River boardwalk

Central Massachusetts

Enjoy fresh air, beautiful trails, good company, and some seasonal natural history along the way during New Year’s Hike at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. We will either hike or snowshoe, depending on conditions. (Adults, registration required)

Greater Boston

Head to Broadmoor in Natick for Owl Prowl Adventures. Learn about local owls while walking through fields and forests under moon listening for resident screech, barred and great horned owls. (Adults, registration required)

Lend a helping hand at Habitat Education Center in Belmont by taking part in their New Year Trail Tending.

Get out your listening ears to learn about the Sounds of Winter at Boston Nature Center. Listen for wind in the tree branches, crunch some snow and ice underfoot, and see if we can make out sounds of animals moving through the woods. Indoors, take part in sensory activities and create a take-home craft. (Families, registration required)

North of Boston

Beat the winter blahs with a high-energy search for birds as part of Birds of Prey and Brownies. Start off at Joppa Flats with a short presentation and homemade brownies. Then, bundle up and head out to Plum Island to look for snowy owls, bald eagles, and various hawks. (Families, registration required)

Take a Sense of Wonder Walk at Ipswich River in Topsfield and meet some of the birds that live at the sanctuary. Afterwards, make a simple feeder for the feathered friends in your backyard. (Adults and Children, registration required)

South of Boston

Go on a Family Nature Hike at Oak Knoll in Attleboro. Each trip is its own adventure dependent on what nature wants to share with us. (Adults and Children, registration required)

Most Popular Facebook Posts of 2016

No surprise, but our most popular Facebook posts of the year involved wildlife in one form or another. Enjoy this top 10 and do let us know in the comments what you would like to see more of in the coming year!

1. A Dove in the Cloud

2. Snowy Owl Release

3. Turkeys at HQ

4. Hummingbird Eggs

5. A Moose at Habitat

6. An Albino Hummingbird

7. Big Night

8. Snowy Owl Video

9. Turtle Crossing

10. Banding Falcons

In Your Words: Norman Smith

In Your Words is a regular feature of Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter. Each issue, a Mass Audubon member, volunteer, staff member, or supporter shares his or her story—why Mass Audubon and protecting the nature of Massachusetts matters to them.

Norman Smith releasing a snowy owl photo © John Cole

Norman Smith releasing a snowy owl. Photo © John Cole

It’s been 50 years since I first started working at Blue Hills Trailside Museum—51 if you count volunteering. When I was a kid, my parents always let me pick a special outing on my birthday. And every year, I picked visiting Trailside. When I turned 13, I sent in a letter asking if there was anything I could do to help out. The staff accepted.

Every weekend and after school, I would ride my bike 10 miles each way to Trailside to empty trash barrels, pick up litter, clean cages, feed the animals—all routine stuff, but I loved it. Eventually, I got a part-time job taking care of the animals, collecting tickets, and assisting with any other task that needed attention. In 1970, after graduating high school, I started full time as an assistant naturalist. Back then, Garret VanWart was the sanctuary director—and a mentor. He took us out on field trips to Marina Bay in Quincy, and through a scope he set up, I saw my first snowy owl. I was hooked.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am not a tech person (I still use a flip phone). But I was the first person to put satellite transmitters on wintering snowy owls back in 2000 to understand their migration patterns. Our research was the first to prove that snowy owls returned to the arctic each spring. During this time, I used to take my son and daughter out with me to capture and release snowy owls. The transmitters have changed and so have my assistants—now I bring my granddaughters.

Over the last half century, there hasn’t been one day that I have thought of leaving the museum. This is more than just a job. This is my life’s work. I want to inspire as many people as I can to care about these precious resources that we have: to encourage and kindle excitement in every child that walks through the door; to get kids and adults to put down their phones and experience the wonders of nature up close; and to help embolden the next generation of stewards to carry on the legacy to help people better understand, appreciate, and care for the world around us so future generations have the same opportunities and more.

See a slideshow of photos from Norman’s 50 years with Blue Hills Trailside Museum and share your favorite Norman stories in the comments below!

You Made 2016 Amazing

The past year was one for the record books! Thanks to you, endangered terrapins hatched, more bobolinks fledged, a century of sanctuaries was celebrated, and a remarkable amount of land was protected for wildlife and people to enjoy.

Below, just a snapshot of 2016 by the numbers. You can help us achieve even more in 2017 by making a donation today.


terrapins hatched from the two-acre Terrapin Cove in Eastham, which Mass Audubon and the town recently protected from future development. That’s 92 more hatchlings then last year!

Diamondback terrapin © Patrick Randall

Diamondback terrapin © Patrick Randall


land conservation projects culminated in protecting 1,234 acres of important habitat, a 287% increase from the previous fiscal year.

Lady slipper

Lady slipper


bobolinks successfully fledged from farms around New England thanks to the innovative Bobolink Project, which raise money to pay farmers to delay haying their fields—up from an estimated 500 fledglings from the previous year.

Bobolink © Phil Doyle

Bobolink © Phil Doyle


stars, the highest rating from Charity Navigator, were awarded to Mass Audubon. This designation indicates that Mass Audubon demonstrates strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.


Mass Audubon camps that brought in 10,000 campers, including the newest camp to open at Oak Knoll in Attleboro.

Campers at Arcadia photo Phil Doyle

Campers at Arcadia photo Phil Doyle


volunteers pitched in at 19 different sanctuaries as part of the 10th annual Statewide Volunteer Day. Mark April 29 on your calendars to help out in 2017.


years of Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries celebrated throughout the year, including a 100th-day celebration that welcomed more than 5,000 visitors to sanctuaries across the state.

Sanctuaries 100th

For more of the year’s accomplishments, check out the Special Land Edition Annual Report.

ICYMI: Laughing Brook’s Instagram Takeover

In case you missed it, Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden recently took over the Mass Audubon Instagram feed. Check out the images below.

Lighting Up the Pru

31nol_logo_2016_bThe Pru will turn blue—Mass Audubon blue, that is—this Wednesday, December 21, at 5 pm! We’ve been selected to be part of this year’s 31 Nights of Light, hosted by the Prudential Center.

This special event was created in 2009 as a way to bring awareness to nonprofit organizations during the holidays. Each night, the top of the Prudential Tower is lit a different color in support of that night’s partner.

Mass Audubon President Gary Clayton will be on site along with Boston Nature Center (BNC) Director Julie Brandlen and BNY Mellon YouthLeaders to give some remarks before flipping the switch on behalf of Mass Audubon.

In or around the Pru thisWednesday? Stop by to say “hello” during the lighting ceremony, and meet some of Boston’s young conservation leaders!

What To Do This Weekend: December 17-18

Get a head start on solstice celebrations, learn how to track mammals, go on nature and bird walks, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend. Keep reading for details…

Tufted titmouse © Lee Fortier

Tufted titmouse © Lee Fortier

Greater Boston

This year’s winter solstice occurs on December 21, but Habitat Education Center in Belmont will host a Winter Solstice Celebration early with history and lore, poetry, a solstice story, and a sunset walk. (Adults and Children 10 and up, registration required)

Boston Nature Center is also celebrating the Winter Solstice. Learn about the science and myth behind the winter solstice, make and decorate a paper luminary to take home, and help out the birds this season by making your own bird feeder. (Families, registration required)

Take a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln and follow the seasonal changes at the sanctuary by observing, exploring, and appreciating the world around us. (Adults and Children 12 and up)

North of Boston

Get an Intro to Tracking Mammals at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Following the indoor introduction, we’ll hike the sanctuary to search for tracks, chews, and scat. (Adults, registration required)

Enjoy Saturday Morning Birding with the team from Joppa Flats in Newburyport and check out some of the best birding locations in the country. (Adults)

South of Boston

Go on an Wintering Bird Walk at Great Neck in Wareham to search for the birds who are spending the winter with us. Be sure to bring your binoculars and/or spotting scope and dress for a hike outdoors. (Adults, registration required)

Spend the afternoon of rocking good fun at Moose Hill in Sharon. During Geology Rocks, learn how to use a simple key to identify rocks, play our rock cycle game, and compare a cookie to the different stages of the rock cycle…then enjoy the cookie. A short outdoor hike will take us to a mystery rock. (Families, registration required)

Central Massachusetts

Listen to the story North Country Night, make a craft, and take a short nature walk as part of Broad Meadow Brook’s Preschool Story Hour in Worcester. (Families, registration required)