Author Archives: Sean K.

About Sean K.

Education Coordinator at Mass Audubon's Museum of American Bird Art

Nature in a minute…The restorative power of Spring

Although it remains mysterious to science how nature calms and restores our brain, it never ceases to amaze me how a brief respite walking through a garden to watch seedlings emerge after a long winter or sauntering through a woodland and hearing the songbirds sing for the first time in many months revitalizes the spirit.


Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.


― Mary Oliver, How I go to the Woods

The woods and meadows at the Museum of American Bird Art are alive with sounds, sights, and spirit of spring – renewal and rebirth.

The wood frogs and spotted salamanders have come and gone from the vernal pools, leaving tens of thousands of eggs that will soon hatch. The young tadpoles and salamander larvae that emerge are tenacious. In their struggle to survival and transform, their tiny bodies expend so much energy that the pond is constantly full of tiny ripples that are visible only when you slow down, look closely, and remain still. Oh, what joy these splendid little puddles in the woods bring after a long winter.

Wood frog male calling on April 1, 2019 in our main vernal pool on the main loop trail at the Museum of American Bird Art

Spotted Salamander in our main vernal pool on April 1, 2019
A wood frog playing peek-a-boo in an interior vernal pool at the Museum of American Bird Art
A few amphibian eggs on a leaf in our wildlife sanctuary on April 1, 2019. I still wondering if they hatched when we had a few good rainfalls…

While the vernal pool awakes, it’s bounty will nurture the nearby woods and the Barred Owl eagerly watches and waits…

Barred Owl watching over the vernal pool on the main loop trail. April 17, 2019

Join us for our Owls Live! Festival, March 16 from 1-4 pm

Join us for our Owls Live! Festival on Saturday, March 16, 2019, from 1:00-4:00 pm.

It will be an afternoon filled with fun activities and a chance to see live owls from Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Find out what makes owls unique and which owls you can find in your own backyard!

Live Owl Shows
1:00 pm, 1:35 pm, 2:10 pm, 2:45 pm, 3:20 pm, 3:45 pm

Other Highlights
Crafts, owl cookies to decorate, face painting, an outdoor owl quest, art projects, refreshments for sale, and more. Pick up some free bird seed and enter a raffle, both courtesy of Chickadee Seed & Feed in Walpole.

Cost (adult/child)
Members $6/$5 • Nonmembers $8/$5 • Free for ages 2 & under
Admission price includes all festival activities, entrance to the art gallery, and nature walks through our beautiful sanctuary.

Proceeds of this fundraiser provide scholarships for our Wild at Art! summer camp.

Whooos woods are these…Nature, Awe, and Wonder in a Minute

Rarely does the moment arrive when everything seems to fit together perfectly and converges at just the right moment, but that’s probably why transcendent moments are so rare and special and our vacation campers had this type of moment this morning.

Over the past few weeks, we have been keeping tabs on a pair of Great Horned Owls and a single Barred Owl that have been very active in our wildlife sanctuary. For one week, a Barred Owl has been roosting during the day in the same tree in our pine grove, but was not there today. Alas, I thought our vacation campers wouldn’t get to see this amazing owl.

Barred Owl from February 7, 2019

BUT the reason it wasn’t in it’s daytime roost was because it had taken up residence in a nest that was in perfect view of the trail in our pine grove. This is the first Barred Owl nest we have ever found on the sanctuary.

So with the snow sparkling in the mid morning sun, an owl resplendent in it’s nest, the first people to see it were our vacation program campers and the look on their faces just tells it all, so much more than words could.

“ Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”


― Mary Oliver

Nature in a Minute: Whose woods these are…

On January 1, 2019, Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening entered into the public domain and I have been pondering the lines from that poem, especially

Whose woods these are…

Robert Frost, 1923

as I take people on programs through the wildlife sanctuary – like high school photography students, develop STEAM curriculum inspired by our natural world, and continue to learn about our amazing natural world right here in Canton. Whose woods are these…

A Great-horned Owl has taken up residence in our pine grove.

As I quietly walked through our wildlife sanctuary, through a grove of tall, spindly white pines and oaks looking for the aforementioned great-horned owl, a white-tail flashed and a “herd” of deer bounded away my foot steps. My attention was draw to a quieter, subtle sound of faintly rustling leaves and breaking twigs gave away the location of a no longer resting coyote.

Coyote, January 8, 2019

Here is a video from our trail camera of four white-tailed deer bounding across the pine grove late one afternoon this new year.

Four deer bounding through the pine grove

Here is a trail camera video from the past week of a single coyote a little past dawn moving through the pine grove.

Coyote in the pine groove

Since the New Year, our wildlife sanctuary has been bursting with activity fueled by an eruption of pine cones. Each day there is a cacophony of squirrels, both red and grey, and seed eating birds, like red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches, brown creepers, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadees, and more. The ground is covered with pine cones, including this pile near a vernal pool on the property.

A cache of pine cones. January 8, 2019.

A red squirrel moved frenetically – both eating pine seeds and remaining vigilant for predators – like the coyote and great horned owl that have both taken up residence in the pine grove.

A red squirrel frenetically collects and eats pine seeds

As a raptor hunted near by and blue jay’s mobbed the bird, a grey squirrel hung tightly to the trunk of a tree and tried to blend in until the danger passed. Whose woods are these…

Robert Frost reading Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Art, Nature, and Photography

Sticks cracked, boots splashed in the stream, and the sanctuary burst with life as students from Canton High got into position to take the perfect photograph of our natural world. On December 11, Patricia Palmer’s photography class from Canton High School visited the wildlife sanctuary to take nature photographs. We spent time exploring near our vernal pool, pine, maple, and oak forest, and Pequit Brook.

Along the photography hike, we encountered lots of birds, including red-breasted nuthatches, a fisher (Martes pennanti), an extremely rare sighting, and a raccoon all curled up in a tree hole along the vernal pool trail. Special thanks to the Marilyn Rodman Council for the Arts for supporting these wonderful programs. 

A fisher ambled up a large white pine while we hiked to the brook. It spent most of the afternoon in the late fall sun high up in the tree.

The light and reflections of the ice were wonderful. Enjoy these photos of the trip.

Student photographing reflections on the ice
A raccoon all curled up in a tree by the vernal pool. It spent over 7 hours curled up in this spot right along the trail
Students photographing ice, water, and nature at the Pequit Brook

Drawing Hawks and Falcons from Life – December 2, 2018 from 10 am to 12 pm

Do you love birds of prey? Do you love drawing? Join us on Sunday, December 2, 2018 at the Museum of American Bird Art for our Drawing Hawks and Falcons from Life workshop. Click here to register!

During this class you will be able to see hawks and falcons up close and discover more about these beautiful birds of prey from a Mass Audubon naturalist while you learn to draw them from life with pencil and paper. You will be able to explore methods for developing your sketch, as well as techniques for capturing depth, volume and texture. All skill levels are welcome! Preregistration is required. Suitable for adults and older children.

Nature in a Minute: Cedar Waxwings

As the leaves have dropped to the meadow and forest floor, the beautiful fall color has not migrated from the wildlife sanctuary, but has transformed with color radiating from the birds and fruit that are ever-present in the fall and winter. The bright red berries, from cherries, crabapples, and dogwoods, have been attracting hundreds of birds each day, including cedar waxwings. We have been fortunate to photograph large flocks of waxwings on the sanctuary.

We hope you enjoy these photographs of the Cedar Waxwings from the past two weeks.

Selected artwork from our 3rd annual Taking Flight juried youth bird art exhibition (Part VIII)

We are extremely excited to display a selection of art from our third annual juried youth bird art exhibition. All artwork will appear in this series of posts. This annual exhibition is open to any children and young adults age 4 to 18 years old. All selected entries will be on display at the Museum of American Bird Art from November 10, 2018 to March 30, 2019. Entries for our fourth annual exhibition will open in January 2019 and close in June 2019.

Come see the artwork on display at the Museum of American Bird Art by appointment or during 3 open houses:

January 26, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm

February 23, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm

March 23, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Caroline Pollan, Age 13

Hummingbirds are one of my favorite birds not only because they are beautiful, but they can fly unlike any other bird. They are incredibly fast despite their size, so fast that I’ve never been able to take a picture of one. That’s why I painted one of these amazing birds – to try to capture the joy of seeing a hummingbird.

Gentoo at Home, Samantha Taylor, Age 9

Gentoo penguins are my favorite bird. I love how they have such bright orange beaks and feet. I think it’s very interesting how the patterns on their feathers change from being grey and black fluffball babies to 24-inch black, white, and orange adults. The dots and shapes around their eyes are especially cool. They also build interesting nests out of grass and rocks, hunt for food in the water, and waddle around with their young as they grow up. I created this particular image of a Gentoo penguin because the baby is on the parent’s feet. It shows a perfect impression of what a Gentoo penguin family might look like while waiting for family time, lunch or dinner. I also like how the landscape changes from stones galore to a sandy beach to a deep blue ocean to a cloudy sky.

Peacock, Lucy Modern, Age 7

I drew a peak because they have beautiful puffy tails.

Selected artwork from our 3rd annual Taking Flight juried youth bird art exhibition (Part VII)

We are extremely excited to display a selection of art from our third annual juried youth bird art exhibition. All artwork will appear in this series of posts. This annual exhibition is open to any children and young adults age 4 to 18 years old. All selected entries will be on display at the Museum of American Bird Art from November 10, 2018 to March 30, 2019. Entries for our fourth annual exhibition will open in January 2019 and close in June 2019.

Come see the artwork on display at the Museum of American Bird Art by appointment or during 3 open houses:

January 26, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm

February 23, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm

March 23, 2019 from 12 to 2 pm

Sparrow Hawk on a Winter’s Day, Anna Rose, Age 17

I took my reference photos for this piece in my backyard while a Cooper’s Hawk was perched atop my bird feeder. I love Cooper’s Hawks because of their gorgeous yellow eyes and extreme agility. Their free spirit and elegant strength easily makes them one of my most favorite birds.

Sandpiper, Maris Van Vlack, Age 16

This is based off of a picture I took at the beach. I really like the patterns of the feathers and the way that the bird camouflages because its feathers are the same color as the sand.

Raven, Claire Grant, Age 15

I always liked drawing animals. Birds were a bit of a challenge but I always liked to draw their anatomy, more specifically, wings. Hence, I drew a raven flying. As to why I chose a raven, I enjoyed the supernatural lore behind them. People usually associate ravens with witchcraft and cunning. They are one of my favorite birds.

Bluejay, Ethan Cross, Age 11

Hummingbird, Ehtan Cross, Age 7