Category Archives: Nature Notes

Nature Notes for Orchard Cove: June 4, 2020

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

This is a photograph of the recently emerged Eastern Tiger Swallowtail from the nature walk at Orchard Cove on June 3, 2020. The butterfly would have overwintered in a chrysalis at Orchard Cove. This butterfly will lay eggs on Magnolia trees – like the tulip popular – and Cherry Trees, like the Chokecherry and Black Cherry trees we saw on our walk.

Swallowtail Caterpillars from Sam Jaffe of the Caterpillar Lab

Sam Jaffe’s photograph of a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Top), Black Swallowtail (Middle), and Spicebush Swallowtail (Bottom). Learn more at: http://www.thecaterpillarlab.org/single-post/2015/12/01/SPICEBUSH-SWALLOWTAIL

Spicebush Swallowtail Chrysalis (similar to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail)

Spicebush Swallowtail chrysalis

Painted Turtles

Turtle Yoga by Barry Van Dusen

Hi everybody, each week I (Sean Kent – MABA’s education and camp director) deliver a live online illustrated lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove in Canton. I love nature and am infinitely curious with what is going on natural world. I am an educator, naturalist, accomplished landscape and wildlife photographer, and field biologist with expertise in native bee biology, species interactions, and ecology in general.

This post contains additional resources that correspond with the lecture, but might also be of interest to readers of Taking Flight in addition to the residents of Orchard Cove. Please contact me (skent@massaudubon.org) if you or your organization/residence might be interested in live online illustrated lectures, including lectures on The Secret Life of Backyard Birds and Native Bees and other Pollinators. Be well and safe.

Nature Notes for Orchard Cove: May 14, 2020

If possible, please participate in and support the Museum by donating to Our Bird-A-Thon team. We would love to have your support. Thank you!

Dogwood’s flowering at the Museum of American Bird Art

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Check out the iridescent red throat of the ruby-throated hummingbird that turns dark depending on the direction of the light.

Anna’s Hummingbird Building a Nest

A female Anna’s hummingbird builds a nest constructed of plant fibers and spiderwebs. From “Animal Homes” Nature on PBS. This first premiered April 8, 2015 on PBS.

Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Grounds in Mexico

Hi everybody, each week I (Sean Kent – MABA’s education and camp director) deliver a live online illustrated lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove in Canton. I love nature and am infinitely curious with what is going on natural world. I am an educator, naturalist, accomplished landscape and wildlife photographer, and field biologist with expertise in native bee biology, species interactions, and ecology in general.

This post contains additional resources that correspond with the lecture, but might also be of interest to readers of Taking Flight in addition to the residents of Orchard Cove. Please contact me (skent@massaudubon.org) if you or your organization/residence might be interested in live online illustrated lectures, including lectures on The Secret Life of Backyard Birds and Native Bees and other Pollinators. Be well and safe.

Nature Notes: Thinking Like a Scientist

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This blog post corresponds with a program for children and their caregivers by the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon about Thinking Like a Scientist, Bird Nesting, Searching for Signs of Spring, and making art by creating a bluebird and nest box out of household and common art materials.

Nature Story Time: Have You Heard the Nesting Bird

Eastern Bluebird Singing

What are Nests Made of?
From Nature on PBS


NATURE NUGGETS brings science and animals from NATURE on PBS to kids and their caregivers. Use the activities below to create active learning and engagement opportunities with your child.

Art Project: Create a Bluebird and Nesting Box

Build your own bird nest!

Use Mass Audubon’s Nature at Home resources and build your own bird nest!

Eastern Bluebird

Hooded Merganser Nest from Nature Nuggets on PBS

Trail Camera Scavenger Hunt

Check out our fun Trail Camera Scavenger Hunt on the Taking Flight Blog.

Mass Audubon’s Bird of the Day Series

Learn more about your neighborhood birds from Mass Audubon’s Bird of the Day Series.

American Robin

Northern Cardinal

Mass Audubon Bird Nest Resources

Become a Citizen Scientist
NestWatch

Using Citizen Science volunteers, Cornell’s NestWatch is a nationwide nest monitoring program. The Museum of American Bird Art participated in NestWatch, monitoring our nest boxes that usually have nesting Tree Swallows, House Wrens, Chickadees, and occasionally an Eastern Bluebird.
Click here to learn more about common nesting birds from NestWatch.

Nature Notes: Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly overwintering grounds in Mexico

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN for PBS. Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers.

This blog post complements a nature-based STEAM programming about butterflies and their life cycle.

Monarch Butterfly laying an egg on Common Milkweed

Monarch butterfly laying eggs on common milkweed, © Sean Kent

Monarch Caterpillar on it’s host plant Common Milkweed

Monarch caterpillar eating common milkweed, © Sean Kent
Monarch Caterpillar

Engineer a Butterfly Habitat

To engineer a butterfly habitat, you need to think about and create a list of what a butterfly needs to survive during it’s entire life cycle as an (i) egg, (ii) caterpillar, (iii) chrysalis, and (iv) butterfly. The following are a few things to think about when engineering a butterfly habitat.

  • Food 
    • Host plants for caterpillars
    • Nectar 
  • Water
  • Places to shelter or hide

After thinking about how to create a butterfly habitat, design your habitat to contain everything a butterfly needs and draw it on a piece of paper. After drawing your butterfly habitat, if you have a couple of pots for plants, a garden, or another area you could modify, you could engineer your own butterfly habitat.

To attract black swallowtail butterflies, you can plant parsley in your garden.

My Parsley Is Attracting Butterflies - Learn About Attracting ...
File:Black swallowtail caterpillar.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

How to Create a Nature Journal

Get outdoors and record your nature observations in your very own nature journal. You can make one with materials you have at home!

Barry Van Dusen’s Sketchbook Page of a Painted Lady Butterfly

If you’d like to learn about nature drawing, including drawing butterflies, enjoy this wonderful blog post by acclaimed artist Barry Van Dusen about Getting Started with Nature Journaling. Below is a sketch of painted lady butterflies.

Barry Van Dusen’s Sketchbook Page of a Monarch Butterfly

During his artist in residence, Barry Van Dusen visit …. and closely observed Monarch Butterflies. Here is an image of his sketchbook page from that day.

“On one liatris plant, I count eight Monarch butterflies – a phenomenal concentration of these handsome migratory insects, whose populations have been down in recent years.  There’s just time enough to do some sketches before I leave to catch the ferry at Vineyard Haven.”

~ Barry Van Dusen in Martha’s Vineyard

Nature Notes: May 7, 2020

This blog post complements our weekly virtual lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove. To learn more about our weekly virtual illustrated lecture series called nature notes, click here.

Support our Bird-A-Thon and Support Our Work at the Museum

Bird-a-Thon is an annual state-wide fundraising and birding event for Mass Audubon that began in 1983. Each spring birders from all over the state raise money to protect the nature of Massachusetts and count as many bird species as they can during a 24-hour period in mid-May. During this challenging time, all the money raised will go directly to supporting our work at the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon.

Check out Sean Kent’s Bird-A-Thon Page.

Check out Milly the Raccoon’s Bird-A-Thon Page and Blog.

Learn more about Bird Migration

Bird migration is in full swing and many new migrants have been arriving over the past week.

Yellow Warbler photographed on May 3, 2020 in Easton, Massachusetts

Migration Forecasting from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Click here to see amazing migration maps and forecasts at BirdCast
Click here to see the bird migration forecast for May 2020

Study of a Prairie Warbler by Barry Van Dusen

Weather Radar showing Bird Migration over the Florida Keys from February 17, 2020

The Yellow and Green hues represent bird migration being picked up on weather radar.

Annual nocturnal migration patterns from 1995 to 2018

Annual nocturnal migration phenology measured by weather surveillance radar from 1995 to 2018. Measures show the aggregate behavior of hundreds of species.

Click here to see these incredible resources at Colorado State University’s AeroEco Lab that studies Bird Migration, Light Pollution, and more.

SUPPORT OUR WORK and Donate to the Museum of American Bird Art

Hi everybody, each week I (Sean Kent – MABA’s education and camp director) deliver a live online illustrated lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove in Canton. I love nature and am infinitely curious with what is going on natural world. I am an educator, naturalist, accomplished landscape and wildlife photographer, and field biologist with expertise in native bee biology, species interactions, and ecology in general.

This post contains additional resources that correspond with the lecture, but might also be of interest to readers of Taking Flight in addition to the residents of Orchard Cove. Please contact me (skent@massaudubon.org) if you or your organization/residence might be interested in live online illustrated lectures, including lectures on The Secret Life of Backyard Birds and Native Bees and other Pollinators. Be well and safe.

Nature Notes for Orchard Cove: April 30, 2020

This blog post is complements our weekly virtual lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove. To learn more about our weekly virtual illustrated lecture series called nature notes, click here.

Signs of Spring: Great Blue Heron Finds Dinner

Great Blue Heron at the Norton Reservoir on April 29, 2020

Useful Links to Learn about Feathers

US Fish and Wildlife Feather Identification Tool

All About Feathers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Feather Iridescence: Anna’s Hummingbird

Videographer: Larry Arbanas. This video is archived at the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library, ML466291.

Feathers: Birds of Paradise

The Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise. From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
In the tropical forests of New Guinea, one male is dedicated to making an unforgettable first impression. From BBC Earth

Hi everybody, each week I (Sean Kent – MABA’s education and camp director) deliver a live online illustrated lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove in Canton. I love nature and am infinitely curious with what is going on natural world. I am an educator, naturalist, accomplished landscape and wildlife photographer, and field biologist with expertise in native bee biology, species interactions, and ecology in general.

This post contains additional resources that correspond with the lecture, but might also be of interest to readers of Taking Flight in addition to the residents of Orchard Cove. Please contact me (skent@massaudubon.org) if you or your organization/residence might be interested in live online illustrated lectures, including lectures on The Secret Life of Backyard Birds and Native Bees and other Pollinators. Be well and safe.

Nature Notes for Orchard Cove: April 23, 2020

This blog post is complements our weekly virtual lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove. To learn more about our weekly virtual illustrated lecture series called nature notes, click here.

Baby Osprey’s Hatched!
The Osprey Nest from Savannah, Georgia.

Enjoy this first look at the freshly hatched Savannah Osprey chick on April 21, 2020.
Watch live at www.allaboutbirds.org/savannahospreys

Mass Audubon Bird Nest Resources

Learn more about Bird Nests

Sharon Beals: Wondrous/Strange photography exhibit at MABA about Bird Nests

Sharon Beals is an incredible artist and photographer who had a wonderful exhibit, Wondrous / Strange, at the Museum of American Bird Art. The 2015 exhibit showcased her photographs of nests stored in natural history museums throughout the world.

San Francisco photographer Sharon Beals combines a keen aesthetic eye with a devotion to preserving the natural world. She says, “Photography is a way to chronicle what moves my heart and concerns my conscience, from  habitat  restoration, plastic in the ocean, to the ecology of rivers, and of course, birds’ nests.”

Sharon Beals, Tree Swallow nest and eggs in the collection of the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, photograph, 2012.
Sharon Beals, Tree Swallow nest and eggs in the collection of the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, photograph, 2012.

Wondrous/Strange presented her stunning photographs from two distinctly different subject areas: bird nests, in their astounding variety, and deceptively beautiful still-life assemblages made from plastic beach detritus.

Caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia). Collected from Scammons Lagoon, Shell Island, Baja California, Mexico, 1932. Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology.

Learn more about Sharon Beals from her website, her book Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them, and this wonderful article from Slate Magazine reviewing her book.

Sharon Beal’s Flickr Gallery of Bird Nests

Geococcyx californianus

NestWatch from Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology

Using Citizen Science volunteers, Cornell’s NestWatch is a nationwide nest monitoring program. The Museum of American Bird Art participated in NestWatch, monitoring our nest boxes that usually have nesting Tree Swallows, House Wrens, Chickadees, and occasionally an Eastern Bluebird.
Click here to learn more about common nesting birds.

Fantastic Nature Documentary about Hooded Merganser Ducklings from PBS

Hooded merganser ducklings brave a 50-foot drop from their nest high in a tree to the forest floor below. They are following the calls of their mother who is waiting to reunite with them at a lake nearby.
“Animal Homes: Location, Location, Location” premieres April 15, 2015 at 8/7c on PBS. Check your local listings. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/animal…

Article from National Audubon about the 50 common merganser ducklings with one mother.

Cooper’s Hawk Nest Camera

Red-tailed Hawk Nest Camera at Cornell

Get a close look at the Red-tailed Hawks’ clutch as Arthur rolls the eggs before taking over incubation duties. Watch live at allaboutbirds.org/cornellhawks

Hi everybody, each week I (Sean Kent – MABA’s education and camp director) deliver a live online illustrated lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove in Canton. I love nature and am infinitely curious with what is going on natural world. I am an educator, naturalist, accomplished landscape and wildlife photographer, and field biologist with expertise in native bee biology, species interactions, and ecology in general.

This post contains additional resources that correspond with the lecture, but might also be of interest to readers of Taking Flight in addition to the residents of Orchard Cove. Please contact me (skent@massaudubon.org) if you or your organization/residence might be interested in live online illustrated lectures, including lectures on The Secret Life of Backyard Birds and Native Bees and other Pollinators. Be well and safe.

Nature Notes for Orchard Cove – April 17, 2020

SUPPORT OUR WORK and Donate to the Museum of American Bird Art

Hi everybody, each week I (Sean Kent – MABA’s education and camp director) deliver a live online illustrated lecture called Nature Notes for the residents of Orchard Cove in Canton. I love nature and am infinitely curious with what is going on natural world. I am an educator, naturalist, accomplished landscape and wildlife photographer, and field biologist with expertise in native bee biology, species interactions, and ecology in general.

This post contains additional resources that correspond with the lecture, but might also be of interest to readers of Taking Flight in addition to the residents of Orchard Cove. Please contact me (skent@massaudubon.org) if you or your organization/residence might be interested in live online illustrated lectures, including lectures on The Secret Life of Backyard Birds and Native Bees and other Pollinators. Be well and safe.

Learning and Understanding Bird Songs

During our Nature Notes from April 10, several participants in the lecture expressed interest in learning more about how to identify bird songs. Here are a few references that will help with to learn bird songs this spring.

How To Listen To Bird Song—Tips And Examples From The Warbler Guide from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This article contains the three questions to ask about a song: (1) What Is The Sound Quality Of The Song?, (2) What Is The Pitch Of The Song?, and (3) How Many Sections Does The Song Have? It’s a really great introduction to learning bird songs along with great visualizations of bird songs.

How to Start Identifying Birds by Their Songs and Calls from National Audubon

Start Using Spectrograms to ‘Read’ Bird Songs and Calls by National Audubon

Buzzy Song – Prairie Warbler

Located on Youtube – © 2010 Lang Elliott musicofnature.org

For more bird songs and visualizations, please go to the bottom of the page.

Lyrid Meteor Shower

The Lyrid Meteor Shower will peak on April 21 and April 22. Here is more information from NASA.

Osprey

Enjoy our Nature in a Minute about an Osprey catching lunch.

Osprey Eggs laid at the end of March 2020

From YouTube: Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Watch live at www.allaboutbirds.org/savannahospreys

Live Osprey Camera from Savannah, Georgia

From YouTube: Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Watch live at www.allaboutbirds.org/savannahospreys

Bird of the Day from Mass Audubon: American Robin

Bird of the Day from Mass Audubon: The Northern Cardinal

Eastern Phoebe Natural History

From YouTube: Dominique Lalonde Films Nature

Eastern Phoebe Sonogram

Located on YouTube: Avian Vocal Behavior by Bruce Byers and Donald Kroodsma in the Handbook of Bird Biology 3rd Edition from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiley Publishing. http://birdbiology.org Recordist: Wilbur L. Hershberger. Courtesy of Macaulay Library/Cornell Lab of Ornithology/ID100741

Eastern Towhee

Located on Youtube – © 2010 Lang Elliott musicofnature.org

Eastern Towhee Song

Located on YouTube: Avian Vocal Behavior by Bruce Byers and Donald Kroodsma in the Handbook of Bird Biology 3rd Edition from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiley Publishing. http://birdbiology.org Recordist: Wilbur L. Hershberger. Courtesy of Macaulay Library/Cornell Lab of Ornithology/ID85179

SUPPORT OUR WORK and Donate to the Museum of American Bird Art