Author Archives: Lindall

Birders Meeting Registration Open!

Merchandise with this design will be available to purchase on the day, by Kristin Foresto.

Merchandise with this design will be available to purchase on the day, by Kristin Foresto.

Registration for Mass Audubon’s 24th Annual Birders Meeting is now open! The 2016 meeting will take place on Sunday March 13th at UMass Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard Boston.

The theme of the meeting is SEABIRDS: DIVERS AND THEIR DRIVERS. Following last fall’s dramatic concentration of seabirds off Cape Cod, the program will focus on seabirds and their remarkable characteristics, adaptations, behaviors, and varied forms and functions. Special emphasis will be given to the factors that influence their distribution and ecology, along with some of the outstanding conservation efforts being directed at protecting seabirds in a rapidly changing world.

A star-studded lineup of speakers will include keynote speaker, Dr. David Wingate (savior of the Bermuda Petrel), in addition to Dr. Steven Kress and Derrick Jackson (restoration of the Atlantic Puffin in the Gulf of Maine), and Sophie Webb (acclaimed artist, author, and veteran student of seabirds). Other speakers will discuss seabird identification techniques and research and monitoring efforts right here in Massachusetts.

Whether you are a seabird junkie or not, you will be after attending this event! Don’t miss out, Register now!

Climate Change Symposium

Tufted Titmice have taken Massachusetts by storm in the past thirty years. Copyright John Sill.

Tufted Titmice have taken Massachusetts by storm in the past thirty years. Copyright John Sill.

Bird Conservation staff were in attendance at our climate change symposium last week, to enjoy a two part presentation about the impacts of climate change on the nature of the Northeast United States. Mass Audubon’s Regional Scientist Robert Buchsbaum, described the current and projected impacts of climate change on the nature of New England. Robert discussed changes that have already occurred due to warming temperatures, using examples from salt marshes, fisheries, forests, and vernal pools.

The impacts of warming are particularly evident for birds. Robert presented data from our Breeding Bird Atlases and State of the Birds work, which show that the range distribution of many species has changed. Several species, such as the Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Wren, are experiencing range expansions and are now more abundant throughout Massachusetts. Other familiar species such as Tree Swallows and Black-capped Chickadees are predicted to decrease.

Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Assistant Research Director, David Publicover, focused on the impacts of climate change in the mountains of the Northeast. The AMC has been collecting weather measurements on Mount Washington’s summit since the 1930’s and this is now used to study climatic trends and their impact on northeastern mountain ecosystems.

This event was part of a series: Climate Change, Energy, and the Outdoors—an educational series co-sponsored by the Appalachian Mountain Club, Mass Audubon, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Documentary Film Premiere: The Messenger


Special Event- December 3, 2015

Don’t miss out! Join Bird Conservation’s Wayne Petersen and Joan Walsh tomorrow night at the Regent Theatre in Arlington for this documentary premiere.

The Messenger: Imagine a World Without Birdsong, is a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of the imperiled songbird.

Learn more and book tickets.

Save The Date

Birders Meeting logo

Sunday, March 13, 2016 at UMASS Boston, MA

Seabirds: Divers and Their Drivers

Plans for Mass Audubon’s 24th Annual Birders Meeting are well underway! We hope that you will plan to join Mass Audubon for what promises to be another informative and fun filled event. Stay tuned for further details on our website in the weeks ahead.

Extinct And Back Again: The Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey, John Sill.

Wild Turkey, John Sill.

With Thanksgiving approaching, turkey is on everyone’s mind. While best known as a delicious Thanksgiving centerpiece, the Wild Turkey is also an exemplary icon of conservation success. This quintessentially American bird can now be found roaming free in every state except Alaska, but this was not always the case.

For nearly 100 years, there were no Wild Turkeys in Massachusetts—the state where Thanksgiving began. Hunting and the loss of forest habitat caused the Wild Turkey to be extirpated from Massachusetts by 1851. People attempted conservation action by releasing captive-bred turkeys into Massachusetts, efforts which were unfortunately unsuccessful.

Success came in the 1970’s, when wild-caught New York turkeys were released in Berkshire County. This ‘turkey transplant’ technique proved to work exceeding well: in less than 50 years, Wild Turkeys went from being locally extinct to nearly ubiquitous as a breeder in Massachusetts. No reintroduction program in the history of the Commonwealth has been as wildly successful as that of the Wild Turkey. Perhaps it is time to herald these birds in a new light, as a conservation ambassador!

Read more in our Breeding Bird Atlas account, and amaze your friends and family at the dinner table.

One of our Wild Turkey residents at Mass Audubon Headquarters.

One of our Wild Turkey residents at Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln.

Give a Hoot About Owls


Short-eared Owl, by John Sill.

Halloween is a fitting time for us to shine a spotlight on owls, birds of prey who are well-known for their nocturnal activities and haunting hooting.  There are eight regularly occurring species of owl in Massachusetts and they are found in a variety of habitats, including your residential neighborhood!

Although they are quite common, owls can be very mysterious and little is known about their habitat needs or population dynamics. Unfortunately, data from our State of the Birds monitoring suggests that three species, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl and Barn Owl are declining in Massachusetts. These species require urgent conservation action and we need your help to fill knowledge gaps about their populations.

Our Owl Citizen Science project is helping to unravel the mystery of where owls occur; we have had more than 300 reports of areas where owls have been seen or heard. The majority of data have been on the location of breeding owls, and many people have even reported nests. While these data are valuable, we are also interested in information on wintering owl populations. This citizen science project runs year round so give a hoot about owls and report your sightings today!

We were lucky enough to have Barred Owls breed outside the Bird Conservation office at Mass Audubon Headquarters this spring. Photo by Marj Rines.

Managing Forests for Birds

Eastern Towhee, by John Sill.

Eastern Towhee, by John Sill.

On October 15th Joan Walsh and Jeff Ritterson joined their partners from  MassWildlife,  the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Franklin Land Trust to present an integrated land management program to interested citizens in (gorgeous) Leyden, MA.

Leyden is one of the focal towns in our Foresters for the Birds program, and our staff spent the day introducing landowners to the thoughts behind the program, as well as introducing land management ideas to benefit grassland nesting birds.

Many thanks to Scott Sylvester, Consulting Forester,  Drew Vitz, our State Ornithologist, as well as DCR Service Forester Alison Hunter Wright and Wendy Sweetser Ferris from Franklin Land Trust for making it a successful day. And thanks to Mother Nature for putting on her party dress, and making the leaf peepin’ nearly perfect.


Foresters and landowners learning about bird friendly management practices in Leyden, MA.


Fantastic fall colors, Leyden MA.


Fellow for Forest Birds Update


Mass Audubon’s Fellow For Forest Birds Jeffrey Ritterson.

Jeffrey Ritterson, our new Bird Conservation Fellow for Forest Birds has been very busy since starting in September. Jeff came to us having just completed his Masters at Umass and is now working to expand our Foresters for the Birds program to new parts of the state. During the past few weeks, he has been reaching out to landowners interested in improving bird habitat in their forests and conducting walks on properties with foresters to review management options.

Additionally, as Mass Audubon embarks on a partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to actively improve habitat for at risk forest species, he will be designing studies and monitoring protocols to assess the effectiveness of any actions. This will include studying the effects of creating early-successional forests – a rare habitat type in Massachusetts.

Grassland Management Workshop

Savannah Sparrow, by John Sill

Savannah Sparrow, by John Sill

Grassland birds are disappearing at an alarming rate and require urgent conservation action. Last Friday, Bird Conservation staff Dr Jon Atwood and Lindall Kidd presented at a grassland management workshop at Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary in Barnstable.

The grassland workshop — a collaboration between the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts and Mass Audubon — aimed to help land managers develop sustainable management practices and find creative ways to make safe environments for breeding birds.

Land managers and owners can make a real difference in protecting grassland species through a number of beneficial management practices. With over 25 Cape Cod land steward professionals in attendance, the workshop was a resounding success.  Mass Audubon is considering co-hosting further workshops in the future, so keep an eye on Long Pasture Sanctuary’s news for announcements.


Participants exploring Long Pasture’s grasslands during the workshop.

Saving Our Swifts

Chimney Swift, John Sill.Chimney Swifts are the only swift species that regularly occur in Massachusetts. Their chattering calls and cigar shaped silhouettes are a sure sign that spring has arrived. Unfortunately these enigmatic little birds are experiencing steep population declines. Chimney Swift numbers have dropped dramatically over the last 30 years and research has shown that declines are more prevalent towards the northeast of North America.

Declines are exacerbated by a loss of nesting and roosting sites. The traditional brick chimneys that swifts nest or roost in are deteriorating or being capped by homeowners. Furthermore, the logging of old growth forests reduces natural nest and roost site availability. Protecting these sites may be key to slowing population declines.

To take action, we launched the Chimney Swift Project which aims to map spring and fall roosting sites, as well as summer nests across the northeast. The project is a partnership with the University of Connecticut and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

The location of Chimney Swift Sighting reported by citizen scientists in 2015 as part of Mass Audubon's Chimney Swift Project.

Chimney Swift sightings reported by citizen scientists in 2015.

Since it’s initiation in the summer of 2014, more than 100 people have participated in the project. Our citizen scientists have made tremendous efforts reporting 5500 Chimney Swifts at over 150 sites. This year, the maximum number of birds reported at a single chimney was estimated at 300! Breeding takes place from late May through early August and this year participants estimated that 64% of observed swifts were breeding.

Very little is known about the winter roost locations of Chimney Swifts so if you are lucky enough to be heading to South America on a birding trip this winter, any observations you make will have huge conservation value. Keep the sightings coming and expect to see us expand this work next year!

Additional Resources

Learn more about chimney swifts and what do if you’re concerned about a nest in a chimney.