Tag Archives: Baltimore Oriole

Blooming slippers, climbing fishers, swooping swallows, and more

Natural History Notes for May & June

Although we are tucked right into the heart of suburban Canton, amazing natural history moments, capable of inspiring awe and wonder, pop up everyday on our wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary has been bursting with life and activity over the past two month and here are a few of the highlights.

First ever sighting of a fisher (Martes pennanti)

During our spring Ecology and Art homeschool class, our students were lucky enough to witness three fishers sauntering through the forest and then bounding up several trees. It was a spectacular sighting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A wave of migrating birds

This spring Owen Cunningham, our property manager, and Sean Kent started a series of Friday morning natural history hikes that coincided with a fantastic wave of migrants, including many warblers.

Magnolia Warbler

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




Yellow-billed Cuckoo


Wilson’s Warbler

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Birds have been busy building nests and caring for their fledglings

We have several pairs of nesting orioles, including one pair that has nested in the trees behind our bird blind, and their babies have recently fledged. During the last week of June, the Mulberry tree by our offices has produced copious amounts of ripe fruits that have been fattening up many species of birds on the sanctuary.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nesting Tree Swallows

This spring we have been lucky to host several pairs of nesting tree swallows. It’s been marvelous to witness the tree swallows raise their young, defend their nests against house wren intrusion, and grace the meadow with their majestic flight.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pink Lady’s Slipper

Every spring, starting in the middle of May and extending to early June, pink lady’s slippers, a majestic orchid, that thrives in acidic soils of our pine forest, emerge and bloom throughout the sanctuary.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hunting Hawks

The populations of chipmunks, red squirrels, and lots of other little critters have exploded thanks to a super abundant crop of acorns this past fall.


Red-tailed Hawk

Flowering plants in our meadow, bird garden,
and new native pollinator garden

Pollinators, including many native bees, have been taking advantage of all the species of flowering plants that have been blooming on our sanctuary. False indigo (Baptista australis) bloomed in early June and had many species of butterflies, bumblebees, leaf cutting bees, and mining bees collecting pollen and nectar from the flowers. Check out two videos of a bumblebee collecting pollen and nectar from a few flowers.


False indigo from the bird garden at the Museum of American Bird Art


Skipper gathering nectar from a False Indigo flower

Skipper gathering nectar from a False Indigo flower

A Lesson in Orioles

This is from a series of posts by MABA resident artist Barry Van Dusen

Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary, Falmouth on May 26, 2015 (part 2)
The area around the swallow barn is a good place to study oriole plumages. In addition to numerous adult male and female Baltimore orioles, I observe adult male and female orchard orioles, along with a first year male orchard oriole (that one had me puzzled for awhile!)

Orchard Oriole studies, Ashumet - at 72 dpi

sketchbook page, 9″ x 12″

Orchard orioles are on the increase in New England, and we should see more of them in the future. Although I have seen this species a number of times, this was the first opportunity I’ve had to draw orchard orioles from life!

Orchard Oriole, adlt male, Ashumet - at 72 dpi cropped for blog

Orchard Oriole in Apple Tree, watercolor in Stillman and Birn Delta sketchbook, 9″ x12″

Orchard Oriole, yg male, Ashumet - at 72 dpi

Young Male Orchard Oriole, watercolor in Stillman and Birn Delta sketchbook, 9″ x 12″

Along the Grassy Pond Trail were some of the shortest pink lady slippers I’ve ever seen! The entire plants were no more than four inches tall, but the blossoms were full size – giving the plant cute, gnome-like proportions.

Pink Lady Slipper at Ashumet