Wild Turkey poults perched on a deck chair © Barbara Berresford

Take 5: Poult Following

Wild Turkey poults have hatched and can be found foraging for nutritious insects in fields with their mother hen. By the time they are three weeks old, turkey poults can fly into a nearby tree or shrub at a command from the hen at the first sign of potential danger. As they grow into adulthood, their diet will shift from mainly insects to mainly plant materials like nuts, berries, and seeds.

Here are five adorable photos of turkey poults in all their fluffy, awkward cuteness. Learn more about what’s happening in nature right now with our Outdoor Almanac and submit your fantastic nature photography today to the 2019 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Wild Turkey Poult © Ronald Grant
Wild Turkey Poult © Ronald Grant
Wild Turkey poults perched on a deck chair © Barbara Berresford
Wild Turkey Poults © Barbara Berresford
Wild Turkey Poults with Hen © Elizabeth Fabiano
Wild Turkey Poults with Hen © Elizabeth Fabiano
Wild Turkey Poult © Cheryle Yankun
Wild Turkey Poult © Cheryle Yankun
Wild Turkey Poults © Judith Montminy
Wild Turkey Poults © Judith Montminy
Tree Swallow © Will Sweet

What To Do This Weekend: June 15-16

Celebrate Father’s Day, take a full moon hike, look for birds, go on a canoe trip, try block printing, look for insects, listen to night sounds, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Tree Swallow © Will Sweet
Tree Swallow © Will Sweet

Greater Boston

Take a free Coastal Bird Walk at Belle Isle Marsh to learn more about Boston’s coastal birds. Belle Isle Marsh offers a unique birding experience as it is close to urban life, but also has a highly productive coastal ecosystem. (adults, registration required)

Take a Father’s Day Weekend Canoe on the Charles with Broadmoor in Natick. Watch the morning mist rising off the river while keeping an eye out for Great Blue Herons and other birds gliding over the water. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Go on a Dad and Me self-guided scavenger hunt at Moose Hill in Sharon. Once you decipher your first clue, head out on the trail to get to your new destination and find the next clue.

Curious about block printing but not sure how to begin? Join artist Sherrie York at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton for Exploring Block Printing to design, carve, and print two small blocks inspired by natural forms. (adults, registration required)

During Ants in Your Pants at Boston Nature Center grab the nearest log or rock, flip it over, and collect insects to look at under hand lenses. Then make an insect-themed craft to take home. (families, registration required)

Have Breakfast with Dad at the Great Blue. Meet at Trailside Museum for a light breakfast. Afterwards, go on a guided hike to the top of Great Blue Hill with a naturalist. (adults and children, registration required)

Go on a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to explore the many habitats of the wildlife sanctuary while building an understanding of ecological communities and our mutual interdependence. (adults and children ages 13+, registration required)

Learn about the Martins and Swallows at Stony Brook in Norfolk. Take a walk around the field and explore the lives of the Tree Swallows and Purple Martins that travel thousands of miles annually to nest here. (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Enjoy Nature Walks & Journaling with Joppa Flats in Newburyport. Discover seasonal vegetation and blooms on short walks then create memorable journals using writing, drawing, watercolor painting, and photos. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Explore the Night Sights & Sounds at Pierpont Meadow in Dudley. Look at the stars and fireflies, and listen for owls, beavers, coyotes, frogs, crickets, and more. (adults, registration required)

Connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way through a Shinrin-Yoku “Forest Breathing” Guided Sanctuary Walk at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Celebrate the coming of Summer Solstice and Father’s Day with a leisurely Canoe Trip. Watch for wildlife and learn how to identify wetland plants. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Listen and look for beavers, owls, loons, and other wildlife at a Moonlight Canoe Trip on Buckley Dunton Lake in October Mountain State Forest. Stealthily explore the coves and inlets, then enjoy refreshments while we listen for nocturnal wildlife sounds. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

South of Boston

On the Strawberry Moon Hike at Tidmarsh in Plymouth, stop, look, and listen for creatures that awaken with the setting of the sun. Slow your pace and heighten our senses to experience the sanctuary under the cover of darkness. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod

Go on a Full Moon Hike at Wellfleet Bay to look and listen for nocturnal wildlife as you enjoy the sun setting over Cape Cod Bay and the full moon rising over the treetops to the east. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Clouds © Wendy Wolfberg

Take 5: Cloud Nine

For something that we don’t tend to give much thought, clouds are pretty amazing. Made up of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air, clouds are categorized and named based on their shape and how high they are in the atmosphere. They can be important indicators of shifts in the weather, help protect us from the sun’s intense rays, and are a great source of entertainment—after all, what’s more relaxing on a warm, sunny day than lying in the grass, gazing at cloud formations and trying to spot familiar shapes in their seemingly random formations?

Here are five fantastic photos of clouds from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, which is now open for submissions for 2019. Submit your weather photography or other nature shots now!

Clouds © Karen Gardner
Clouds © Karen Gardner
Clouds © Wendy Wolfberg
Clouds © Wendy Wolfberg
Clouds © Nick SJ
Clouds © Nick SJ
Clouds © Megan O'Leary
Clouds © Megan O’Leary
Clouds © Joanne McKinnon
Clouds © Joanne McKinnon

What To Do This Weekend: June 8-9

Take a photography workshop, pull invasive plants, draw songbirds, learn about gardening, look for birds, search for horseshoe crabs, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak © Will Freedberg

Greater Boston

Help Habitat Education Center in Belmont Remove Invasive Plants including buckthorn, bittersweet and others. These plants make it difficult for native plants to thrive. Free. (adults and children, registration required)

Get Top Tips for Spring and Summer Nature Photography at Broadmoor in Natick. Find out what to do with everything from tricky lighting to moving wildlife as you explore beautiful habitats around the sanctuary. (adults, registration required)

Attend an Artisan Fair and Native Plant Sale at Moose Hill in Sharon. Meet local artists and see there nature-inspired work and pick up some native plants for your garden.

Head to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln for Afternoon Chores and More. Feed chickens and collect eggs, then bring hay to the sheep, goats, and cows. After we finish up we’ll treat ourselves to a farm fresh snack. (families, registration required)

Draw Songbirds from Life at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton. Observe, study, and sketch three or four rescued songbirds. You will also have a chance to learn all about these birds from a Mass Audubon naturalist. (adults and children ages 13+. registration required)

Head to Scarboro Pond at Franklin Park in Boston for Pond Life to learn about all the creatures that live in and around ponds. Use dip nets to collect pond creatures, and observe them under microscopes before returning them to their home. Free. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Dig deeper into the relationship between milkweed and Monarch butterflies during a Milkweed and Monarchs Workshop at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth and Westport. Learn how to foster and monitor your own milkweed patch and find out how to join a citizen science project. (adults and children, registration required)

Spend a warm evening with friends and community members enjoying delicious food and drink, strolling candle-lit gardens, and getting up-close with wildlife at Oak Knoll’s 7th annual spring fundraiser Night at the Knoll. (adults ages 21+, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod

Go In Search of Horseshoe Crabs with Wellfleet Bay. Meet at Priscilla Landing in Orleans to search for horseshoe crabs coming up on the beach to spawn at high tide, and talk about their behavior, biology, conservation, and management. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

Take a family-friendly Tidal Flat Creature Search Expedition to the mud flats of Barnstable Harbor. Search for the predatory moon snail and ancient looking horseshoe crab, hold a jelly-like lugworm egg case, and learn how these creatures survive the the intertidal zone. (adults and children, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

North Shore

During Summer Gardening & Seasonal Blooms at Joppa Flats in Newburyport learn about plant height, color combinations, and others’ summer bloom success stories. Explore local gardens, then return to Joppa Flats to discuss bulb planting, perennials, annuals, and shrub selection. (adults, registration required)

As part of Breeding Birds of Ipswich River in Topsfield look for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers, swallows, warblers, bluebirds, and more. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Take a closer look at grass as part of this month’s Essential Nature Series at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Berkshires

Go Birding in the Berks at Post Farm Marsh in Lenox. It’s the perfect place to look and listen for marsh birds such as the American bittern, Virginia rail, sora, common gallinule, and marsh wren. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

American Goldfinches © Roberto De Souza

Take 5: Baby Food

Brace yourself for a serious cuteness overload. It’s baby bird season in Massachusetts! Baby birds can be a lot of fun to watch (from a distance) as they hatch, grow, and eventually fledge.

It’s true that young birds face naturally tough odds for survival, but that’s nature’s way of maintaining a sustainable balance in the environment and makes it all the more special when we have the opportunity to witness baby birds successfully mature and leave the nest.

If you happen upon a helpless-looking baby songbird bird out of the nest, check out our primer on when to take action and when to leave well enough alone.

Here are five photos of baby birds and their parents from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2019 photo contest is officially open, so send us your beautiful nature photography for a chance to win!

Baltimore Orioles © Susumu Kishihara
Baltimore Orioles © Susumu Kishihara
Barn Swallows © Kim Caruso
Barn Swallows © Kim Caruso
Pileated Woodpeckers ©Daniel Tracey
Pileated Woodpeckers ©Daniel Tracey
American Robins © Grace Chu
American Robins © Grace Chu
American Goldfinches © Roberto De Souza
American Goldfinches © Roberto De Souza
Great Blue Heron © Don Miffitt

What To Do This Weekend: June 1-2

Celebrate National Trails Day, look for birds at sunset, learn how to plant for pollinators, attend family-friendly festivals, buy native plants, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Great Blue Heron © Don Miffitt
Great Blue Heron © Don Miffitt

Cape & Islands

Go on a Climate Change Walk & Talk at Felix Neck in Edgartown to see areas that have been impacted by climate and weather events. Look at two ongoing projects that aim to address the changes and learn what Mass Audubon is doing to address climate change. (adults)

Enjoy Shorebirds at Sunset at Wellfleet Bay. You may see willets, whimbrels, black-bellied plovers, and peeps galore! (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

South of Boston

It’s Trailapalooza at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth. Take a guided hike to celebrate their newest trail on National Trails Day. There will also be activities for all ages and a bake sale. (adults and children, registration required)

Shop for native plants that will brighten your gardens and provide habitat for birds and butterflies during North River’s Native Plant Sale & Open House! Spend the day enjoying free snacks, fun activities, and a special art exhibit.

More in South of Boston

Greater Boston

Take a free Coastal Bird Walk at Belle Isle Marsh to learn more about Boston’s coastal birds. Belle Isle Marsh offers a unique birding experience as it is close to urban life, but also has a highly productive coastal ecosystem. (adults, registration required)

Go Birding at Broadmoor in Natick on National Trails Day and hear about planned trail improvements. Watch for Green and Great Blue Herons, warbling vireos and Ovenbirds, along with Yellow Warblers and Common Yellowthroats. (adults, registration required)

During Drawing at Habitat: The Shape of Flowers in Belmont, look at strategies flowers use to attract pollinators. Then move outside to seek inspiration for your drawing. (adults, registration required)

Plant for Pollinators at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Learn about beneficial and beautiful native shrubs, perennials, grasses, and trees, and how to utilize them in your landscape to enhance the habitat value of your yard. (adults, registration required)

Head to Moose Hill in Sharon for Family Exploration Sundays to explore the wonders of nature as a family. Destinations won’t be too far, which will leave us plenty of time to observe, explore, and discover. (families, registration required)

Families with young children can enjoy a Nature Story Hour at Boston Nature Center. Listen to a nature-themed story and take a short walk to learn about the resident animals and plants that call the BNC home. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Go Saturday Morning Birding in the Newburyport/Plum Island are — one of the best year-round birding locations in the country. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

Join Ipswich River in Topsfield for Audubon Nature Festival, a day of nature and fun featuring Marcia and Mark Wilson of Eyes on Owls. An unforgettable natural history experience for the whole family!

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Head to Wachusett Meadow in Princeton for Yoga at the Sanctuary. In this outdoor class, connect with your breath, body, mind, and nature with Wachusett Meadow as your backdrop. (adults, registration required)

Enjoy a Saturday Morning Bird Walk for Adults at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. We’ll teach you the basics of birding and bird identification during an easy-to-moderate walk along the trails.  (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Have you ever wanted to raise butterflies? During Raising Black Swallowtails at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton, watch a presentation on butterfly life cycles, host plants, and nectar sources. Then find out how to set up your own indoor butterfly enclosure to get started at home. (adults, registration required)

Take a Spruce-Fir Forest Plant Hike and experience a unique, high-elevation forest at Tamarack Hollow. Learn to identify tree species such as balsam fir, red spruce, tamarack, and black, white, and yellow birches.

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Enjoy nature exploration activities, live-animal presentations, music, and nature arts and crafts during a Free Family Fun Day at Pleasant Valley in Lenox.

More in the Berkshires

Just Graduated College? Give TerraCorps a Try

Nick Tepper on Nantucket as part of the Alternative Spring Break.

It had been five minutes since we reached Nantucket’s southern shores, and a beautiful sunset was fading to afterglow over the dunes. All was calm when one of the students pointed and said ”a big bird just landed in that dune!”

Immediately, a Barn Owl floated effortlessly across the moors. We began passing binoculars like hot potatoes, unaware that magnification would soon become obsolete. One of the owls came so close that everyone could see his heart-shaped face and golden wings with the naked eye. It then hovered 20 feet from the van, grabbed a vole, ate it, and then exploded off into the night. 

This experience all happened thanks to TerraCorps. For the past six of months, I have been working at Mass Audubon as part of my TerraCorps service year. I’ve had the opportunity to work on many projects from launching Mass Audubon’s presence on iNaturalist to leading naturalist excursions during an Alternative Spring Break for UMass Boston students on Nantucket. 

As a recent college graduate, reading the “2-5 years of experience” requirement on job postings is pretty discouraging. TerraCorps supports young professionals like myself as they gain valuable experience and connections into the ecological field through hands-on work with ecologically based nonprofits. 

When I applied for this position, I only knew Mass Audubon as a legendary name in the world of conservation. Now I can personally attest that it is so much more. The people I’ve met, adventures I’ve had, and lessons I’ve learned have become permanent building blocks in my professional career.  

I am excited to say that Mass Audubon is actively looking to bring on more TerraCorps members throughout the state. Apply for a service year with Mass Audubon for a chance to learn from the best naturalists, stewards, and educators in Massachusetts. If your position is anything like mine, you will have dozens of Barn Owl-type moments that you will remember for a lifetime!

— Nick Tepper

Water droplets on a blade of grass © Heather Armata

Take 5: Drip, Drop

All throughout April and into May, it seemed as though the rain were never going to stop. At long last, the clouds have parted and the sun is shining! Although a lot of rain can be a real downer, a little bit of rain can make for some truly beautiful nature photography.

Here are beautiful shots of water droplets on plants that have been submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Be sure to sign up for photo contest updates so you’ll be the first to know when the 2019 contest opens for submissions (hint: it’s coming soon!)

Water droplets on a daisy © Ann Marie Sweetsir
© Ann Marie Sweetsir
Water puddled on a lily pad © Ashok Boghani
© Ashok Boghani
Water droplet hanging from the end of a yellow flower petal © Don Bullens
© Don Bullens
Water beaded along a blade of grass © Heather Armata
© Heather Armata
Water beaded on a leaf © Claire Vail
© Claire Vail
Scarlet Tanager

What To Do This Weekend: May 25-27

Go birding, practice mindfulness, take photographs, do some gardening, kayak, explore the seashore, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanager

Greater Boston

Visit birding hotspots in the Blue Hills during Saturday Morning Birding in Milton. Experienced birders will be leading the group to a variety of locations in the area in search of the most interesting birds. (adults, registration required)

Explore Broadmoor in Natick with your camera as part of Nature Photography: The Beauty of Spring. See how composition techniques, use of natural light, and changes in exposure and depth of field can help in successfully capturing and strengthening natural images. (adults, registration required)

Discover Moose Hill in Sharon in a new way during Forest Bathing, a guided, slow-paced therapeutic combination of leisurely walking, sitting, and observation. Unplug, slow down, and de-stress through a series of gentle sensory-opening invitations that welcome us to deepen our connection with nature. (adults, registration required)

Birders and non-birders of all ages and skill levels are invited for a Morning Bird Walk at Habitat in Belmont. Look for signs of migrating species, mating behaviors, and nest building. (all ages)

Do a little Spring Gardening at Boston Nature Center. Learn how garden plants affect the soil quality, how to protect against drought and insects, and anything else you wonder about gardening! (families, registration suggested)

Enjoy a Members-only Sunday Stroll at Stony Brook in Norfolk to see what is happening on the sanctuary and stop to enjoy any interesting and unusual sights you come upon. (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

Use dip nets and magnifiers to search for swimming, flying, and burrowing wildlife during a Seashore Ramble at Wellfleet Bay. The hope is to see crabs, turtles, fish, and much more! (families, registration required)

Go on an Osprey Watch by Kayak with Long Pasture off Gray’s Beach. Learn all about this fantastic summer resident with Mass Audubon naturalists on a guided excursion through this wetland. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

North Shore

Kids 9-14 can take part in a Youth River Survival Challenge at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Learn the basics of canoe safety, paddle strokes, and the river knowledge. Then on Perkins Island, craft your own paddle from natural materials and test it out on the way back to the mainland. (children ages 9-14, registration required)

Go Birding on Ward’s Reservation in Andover. Spectacular hilltop vistas of the Boston skyline can also contain a kettle of raptors on their way north. Try to find the many birds that will be both passing through and setting up breeding territories. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Connecticut River Valley

Sharpen your bird identification skills during the spring migration season. Early Morning Birding at Laughing Brook in Hampden is a great opportunity to see and learn about the many birds that pass through our area at this time. (adults, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Head to Pleasant Valley in Lenox for Birding by Ear Brunch to eat a pancake breakfast while listening to a talk on identifying birds by ear. Then take a short walk around the sanctuary to listen for the songs we just learned. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Spring Wildflower Walk at Cold Brook in Otis. Learn to use guides to look up plants we discover along the way. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Compost Bucket via Elaine/Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Compost for the Climate

Compost Bucket via Elaine/Flickr Creative Commons 2.0
Compost Bucket via Elaine/Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, food waste makes up one-quarter of our state’s trash. That means your biodegradable apple cores and other plant based materials are needlessly taking up space in landfills and causing negative environmental impacts. But there’s an easy fix. Enter composting.

Composting is not new. In fact, as long as plants have been growing, compost has been happening. What do you think happens to all those leaves that fall off the trees in the forests? That’s right –- Mother Nature is the original compost queen!

Any good farmer will tell you that good compost is one of the best soil amendments around. What you should also know is that composting helps alleviate climate change.

Ready to take action? Sign the pledge and start composting. Or keep reading to learn more.

It Works Like This

When organic materials like food and yard waste break down in a compost pile, with plenty of air and water present, the carbon that is released is stored in the new compost, instead of being sent out into the atmosphere. This carbon sequestration –- keeping the carbon “locked up” — helps reduce the greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.

If those same organic materials break down in a landfill, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are released, contributing to warming our planet.

An Easy to Access Solution

According to calculations from Project Drawdown, an estimated 38% of food waste was composted in the U.S. in 2015. In the European Union, that number is much higher: nearly 57%.

Compost can happen on large or small scales. Some cities already collect household food waste. In 2009, San Francisco passed an ordinance that makes composting the city’s food waste mandatory. In Copenhagen, Denmark they have not sent organic waste to landfill for more than 25 years

Many towns in Massachusetts have a compost facility or “stump dump” for yard waste that homeowners and landscapers can use. They won’t take your kitchen waste of course, but it’s not hard to compost in your own yard.

How to Compost at Home

There are a few ways to compost. If you want reduce your waste and get all of the resulting “black gold” dirt, you can set up a compost pile relatively easily at home — find out how. Or, you can take advantage of curbside composting with companies like Black Earth, Dirty Boys, and Bootstrap Compost. In some towns, you can even drop off diverted food materials. 

Interested in learning more about composting basics and the relevant Massachusetts facilities, check out the resources provided by Mass DEP

Pledge to Compost

If each one of us reduces our personal carbon footprint through composting, it can lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across the state.  

I pledge to start composting at my home or in my garden. If I am already composting as an individual, I will work with my school, employer, or community group to set up a pilot composting program in the next 6 months. 

Sign the pledge >

Updated May 30, 2019 to include Bootstrap Compost.