The searing heat of the dog days of summer has finally passed, and cool autumn weather is upon us. Some much-needed rain has perked up sun-scorched grasses and with each passing day, more and more trees are displaying their radiant fall splendor.
To celebrate the turning of the seasons, here are five great photos of birds in fall, all past submissions to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest.
Barred Owl © Cheryl Rose, Photo Contest 2013
Canada Geese © Harold Dubnow, Photo Contest 2012
Golden-crowned Kinglet © Mary Keleher, Photo Contest 2013
Blue Jay © Davey Walters, Photo Contest 2014
Black-capped Chickadee © Rich Lewis, Photo Contest 2014
September is National Mushroom Month and a perfect time to spot the fruiting bodies of fungi as they flourish in the cooling temperatures.
What are fungi, anyway? Fungi are neither plants nor animals. They may appear to be similar to plants, but they contain no chlorophyll and so cannot make their own food through photosynthesis. They get their food by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings. Many fungi play a crucial role in decomposition (breaking things down) and returning nutrients to the soil.
To learn about the crucial and sometimes astonishing roles these fascinating life forms have in the ecosystem and some methods for identifying mushrooms and other fungi in the field, join us for a Fungi Walk!
Here are five fabulous fungi photos (say that three times fast!) to inspire you to get out with your camera and take some shots of your own. The 2016 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest closes on September 30 so get your photos in today!
Deepest thanks to Bill Neill of the Boston Mycological Club for helping with the tricky task of identifying the fungi below.
Amanita flavoconia © Lena Mirisola, Photo Contest 2011
Amanita guessowii © Virginia Sands, Photo Contest 2013
Amanita rubescens © Sarah Sindoni, Photo Contest 2013
Xerula furfuracea © Sarah LaPointe , Photo Contest 2013
Exsudiporus frostii © Ruby Sarkar, Photo Contest 2013
With summer winding down and fall approaching, you may start to hear the sound of a friendly neighbor or two, knocking on your door (or drainpipe, or siding, or trees). Woodpeckers!
Each fall, woodpeckers excavate roosting holes in preparation for the coming winter, utilizing a behavior called “drilling.” When woodpeckers drill, they actually chip out wood and create cavities as potential sites for nesting or roosting.
A similar behavior, but for a different purpose, is “drumming,” which a woodpecker does to attract a mate or mark its territory by alerting the competition. Drumming occurs most commonly in spring.
Learn more about the species of woodpeckers found in Massachusetts, how they manage to peck without brain injury, and what to do if a woodpecker is drilling on your house.
Got a great picture of a woodpecker at work? Submit it to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest by September 30!
Red-Headed Woodpecker © Ken Lee, Photo Contest 2012
Pileated Woodpecker © Daniel Tracey, Photo Contest 2014
Red-bellied Woodpecker © Bette Robo, Photo Contest 2013
Northern Flicker © Jim Walker, Photo Contest 2011
Downy Woodpecker © Jacob Mosser, Photo Contest 2013
If you’ve ever enjoyed a day at the beach, no doubt you have been entertained by the antics of a few fleet-footed shorebirds as they scurry about in the waves, looking for morsels of food buried in the sand. As summer begins to wane, migratory shorebirds begin their long, annual journey south for the winter, and mid-August is the perfect time to catch the height of the annual shorebird migration at beaches and tidal wetlands along the Massachusetts coast.
Look for sandpipers, plovers, and sanderlings, among others, at many of our wildlife sanctuaries, including Joppa Flats in Newburyport, Long Pasture in Barnstable, and Felix Neck in Edgartown. Check our program catalog to find an upcoming shorebird migration program at these any many other locations.
Here are five terrific photos of common shorebirds you can look out for on their long trek south. And don’t forget to submit your own photos to our annual photo contest by September 30!
Piping Plovers © David Peller, Photo Contest 2014
Semipalmated Sandpiper © Scott Martin, Photo Contest 2015
Sanderlings © Denise Hackert Stoner, Photo Contest 2015
Greater Yellowlegs © Susumu Kishihara, Photo Contest 2015
Dunlins © Paul McCarthy, Photo Contest 2015
It’s common knowledge that beavers build dams, but do you know why? It’s so they can survive the cold of winter! Beavers build dams to form ponds that are deep enough that they won’t freeze at the bottom. That way, the beavers can store a cache of edible branches on the floor of the pond, which they can access from their cozy lodges by way of underwater entrances.
Beaver dams actually benefit other species (including people), as well. By building dams and flooding woodland swamps, beavers play an important part in the restoration of lost wetlands, providing habitat and food for a wide variety of plants and animals.
To learn more about beavers (which are easily confused with their cousin the muskrat, by the way), beaver dams, and how to deal with various beaver-related issues, check out the Nature & Wildlife page here.
If you’ve got some great wildlife shots of your own, we’d love to see them! Enter the 2016 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest today!
Beaver © Martin Espinola, Photo Contest 2013
Beaver © John Kloczkowski, Photo Contest 2014
Beaver © Sandra Taylor, Photo Contest 2014
Beaver © David Zulch, Photo Contest 2015
Beaver © Karen Riggert, Photo Contest 2015
Take a scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a lot of pictures of food. Be it soulfully-prepared, home-cooked meals, fancy restaurant plates with artfully-drizzled sauces, or indulgent, cheesy diner dishes, it seems we can’t help but be captivated by food.
We’re not the only ones! Our friends in the animal kingdom have appetites just as healthy as our own, so today we’ve lined up five photos of professional eaters in action, from honeybees to herons. If you’ve got great pictures of your own of hungry wildlife in action, enter the 2016 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest. Bon appétit!
Baby Mallard © Nathan Goshgarian, Photo Contest 2014
Very Hungry Caterpillar © Alyssa Mattei, Photo Contest 2015
Eastern Chipmunk © Colleen Bruso, Photo Contest 2015
Honey bee © James Engberg, Photo Contest 2015
Black-Crowned Night-Heron © Derrick Jackson, Photo Contest 2015
It’s National Moth Week! Okay, maybe not everyone is as excited about it as we are—but they should be!
Although they sometimes get a bad rap (only a handful of the thousands of species of moths are actually harmful pests), moths are crucial pollinators for many species of plants and are also key food sources for everything from bats to birds and from spiders to shrews.
And because they are sensitive to changes in their environment, moths are important bioindicators, giving us clues to the health and diversity of their ecosystems as a whole.
If you’d like to learn more about these fascinating creatures, sign up for Moth Night at Long Pasture in Barnstable on July 31. In the meantime, check out these five beautiful photographs of moths from past entries to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest and enter your own images by September 30 for your chance to win!
Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus) © Nancy Rodriguez, Photo Contest 2012
Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) © Suzette Johnson, Photo Contest 2012
Small-eyed Sphinx Moths (Paonias myops) © Christine Silver, Photo Contest 2013
Luna Moth (Actias luna) © Jane Morrisson, Photo Contest 2014
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) © Jose Mendes, Photo Contest 2014
The July heat wave that has swept over Massachusetts has everyone sweating. Shorts and sundresses abound as people strive to keep cool in as few layers as possible. Cars parked in the sun become solar ovens, hot enough to bake cookies on the dashboard. Even the most stubborn hold-outs have succumbed and dug into the attic for the air conditioner (energy-savers, of course!).
To help you try to beat the heat, we’ve lined up some gorgeous waterfall photographs, so you can picture yourself basking in the cool, shady air near a quiet forest stream. Enjoy these five past Photo Contest entries and submit your own images to the 2016 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest by September 30. Stay cool!
2012 Photo Contest © Robert DesRosiers
2012 Photo Contest © Lisa Gurney
2012 Photo Contest © John Elliott
2013 Photo Contest © Dan Sullivan
2010 Photo Contest © Deanna Wrubleski
Did you know that there are two species of cottontail rabbits in Massachusetts? The New England cottontail, and the Eastern cottontail. While there are very slight differences in appearance between the two species, it can be nearly impossible to tell them apart by just looking at them. The Eastern cottontail was introduced into the state before 1900 to bolster the rabbit population and is now the most common rabbit in Massachusetts.
Wild cottontails have a life expectancy of less than two years. Nearly half the young die within a month of birth, largely because cottontails are a popular menu item for foxes, weasels, raccoons, minks, snakes, crows, and several common species of hawks and owls.
These furry little cuties can be quite the menace to flower and vegetable gardens. For tips on what to do if your shrubs and veggies are being ravaged by bunnies, check out our Cottontail Situations & Solutions page, and enjoy these photo contest entries of cottontails (at least the pictures won’t nibble your carrots!).
© Susumu Kishihara, Photo Contest Entry 2013
© Frank Vitale, Photo Contest Entry 2012
© Julia Swerdlov, Photo Contest Entry 2014
© Priya Ramachanriya Surendranath, Photo Contest Entry 2014
© Jeremy Lane, Photo Contest Entry 2015
Don’t forget: the 2016 Photo Contest is now open. Enter your photos today!
June 29 is National Camera Day, a day to celebrate how the incredible power of photographs has changed the world. Photographs have allowed us to learn and observe so many things about the natural world that we couldn’t before the invention of the camera.
In honor of National Camera Day, here are the Grand Prize Winners from the last five years of the Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest.
The 2016 Photo Contest is now open for submissions! Show us your best photographs taken in Massachusetts (or at Mass Audubon’s Wildwood camp in New Hampshire) that show off everything from wildlife to scenic landscapes to people enjoying the wonders of nature.
2015 Photo Contest Winner © Steve Flint
2014 Photo Contest Winner © Arindam Ghosh
2013 Photo Contest Winner © Paul Mozell
2012 Photo Contest Winner © Ken Lee
2011 Photo Contest Winner © Mary Dineen