What To Do This Weekend: Dec 15-17

Look for winter birds, gaze at the stars, make snowman ornaments, celebrate the solstice, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Red-breasted nuthatch

Greater Boston

Spend your Friday night Star Gazing and looking at other night objects through big telescopes at Moose Hill in Sharon. (adults and children ages 6+)

At the Museum of American Bird Art, make Snowman Ornaments and a winter landscape collage inspired by the art of Charley Harper. After creating your artwork, go on a naturalist-guided hike around the wildlife sanctuary. (families, registration required)

While this year’s winter solstice occurs on December 21, Celebrate the Solstice early at Habitat in Belmont with history, lore, poetry, a solstice story, and a walk as the sun sets. (adults and children ages 10+)

Go on a Family Bird Walk at the Boston Nature Center to look for the most common birds found in Boston. Learn how to tell them apart and the best way to use binoculars. (families with children ages 8+)

Enjoy a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. The walk will focus on one particular area or habitat as we build our understanding of ecological communities and our mutual interdependence. (adults and children ages 12+)

Look for golden and ruby crowned kinglets, rusty blackbirds, juncos, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, and many more birds during a Family Winter Bird Walk at Stony Brook in Norfolk. Along the way, learn just how these creatures survive the harsh New England winters. (families with children ages 6+, registration required)

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North Shore

Go on a Lantern-lit Solstice Walk at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Stroll the trails to light up the night and then enjoy hot cider and cocoa at the bonfire. (adults and children)

Search out avian activity in the Newburyport/Plum Island area, one of the best year-round birding locations in the country, at Saturday Morning Birding. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

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Central Massachusetts

Head to Broad Meadow Brook for bear-themed Preschool Story Hour. Listen to a story, enjoy an activity, and then go on a naturalist-led walk. (families, registration required)

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South of Boston

Oak Knoll is Attleboro is hosting a Teen Conservation Club series. During it, teens will delve into environmental science with activities like creating enrichment for our nature center’s animal collection and investigating local conservation topics. (ages 13-17, registration required)

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Cape Cod

Look for Winter Ducks at Long Pasture in Barnstable and other spots around town. Be on the lookout for black scoters, American wigeons, northern pintails, gadwalls, and ring-necked ducks. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

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Ladybug © Allyson Via

Take 5: Lovely Ladybugs

Everyone loves to catch a glimpse of ladybugs—especially gardeners. Ladybugs (which are not technically bugs, but beetles) feed on pesky aphids that harm apple, peach, and plum trees, as well as maples and pines.

Both native and non-native species of lady beetles abound in New England, but the ones seen inside and outside homes in huge numbers during the fall are non-native lady beetles (Harmonia axyridis) introduced from Asia. How the non-native ladybug came to the United States is still a matter of some debate, but in any case, you can now find them in all New England states, and they apparently do no harm to our native lady beetle species.

Learn more about ladybugs/lady beetles, including what to do if they have invaded your home this fall, on our website.

To celebrate these harmless, beautiful, beneficial beetles, here are five photos submitted to past years of our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Ladybugs © Rose Grant

Ladybugs © Rose Grant

Ladybug © Allyson Via

Ladybug © Allyson Via

Ladybug © Eric Magnussen

Ladybug © Eric Magnussen

Ladybug © Ashok Boghani

Ladybug © Ashok Boghani

Ladybug © Krystyana Roman

Ladybug © Krystyana Roman

© Mary Weafer

What To Do This Weekend: Dec 9-10

Look at the night sky, make a holiday craft, go on a holly hike, observe backyard birds, and more!

© Mary Weafer

© Mary Weafer

Central Massachusetts

Come to the Holiday Nature Crafts Open House at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester to see our tree that’s been decorated with imaginative ornaments handcrafted from natural materials. Then join us in the Program Room to make your own!

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North Shore

Get ready for the Geminid meteor shower with an Astronomy Program at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Learn about its origin and the best ways to observe it. Weather permitting, we’ll step outside to catch a glimpse of the Geminid shower in its early stages. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

Search out avian activity in the Newburyport/Plum Island area, one of the best year-round birding locations in the country, at Saturday Morning Birding. Beginners and birders of all levels are welcome. (adults)

More in the North Shore

Greater Boston

Looking for unique, adorable, handmade gifts? During Wonders of Wool: Holiday Ornaments at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, use cookie cutters to create needle felted wool ornaments or pins. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Go Animal Tracking at Broadmoor in Natick to look for signs of animals as they forage for food and shelter. Learn to identify the tracks, chews, scat, burrows and other clues left by many creatures including deer, fisher and coyote. (adults, registration required)

During Winter Backyard Birding and Crafts at the Boston Nature Center get tips on how to use binoculars, go on a bird hike, and create some seed and fruit art for the birds to enjoy. (families w/ children ages 5+, registration requested)

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South of Boston

Enjoy a Sensory Exploration hike along the accessible Reflection Trail at Attleboro Springs. This trail was designed to be accessible by wheelchairs & strollers! (adults and children, registration required)

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Cape Cod and Islands

Go on a Holiday Holly Hike at Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary in Falmouth, home to one of the largest holly plantations in New England. Bring a grocery bag to fill with holly boughs for the holidays! (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

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Mass Audubon T-Shirt with Spring Peeper Frog

Let Us Help With Your Holiday Shopping

To help you get a jump on your holiday shopping, we’ve curated our favorite nature-themed holiday gifts from the Audubon Shop into a handy Holiday Gift Guide. There’s a little something for everyone in there, from the Entertainer to the Young Explorer, so poke around and find the perfect gifts for the nature-lovers on your list!

DON’T MISS A DEAL: Sign up for the Audubon Shop newsletter to be notified of upcoming sales, new products, and author events.

Here are a few of our top picks for the holiday season:

For the Entertainer:

Moon Ice Mold

Moon Ice Mold
Price: $10.00

Forget “on the rocks”; have your drinks “over the moon!” This silicone ice mold makes one large (1.9″ in diameter) ice moon, complete with bumps and craters.

See All Gifts for the Entertainer >>


For the Outdoor Adventurer:


10-in-1 Multi-Tool Flashlight
10-in-1 Multi-Tool Flashlight
Price: $22.00

This handy tool has it all: a knife, flat-head & Philips-head screwdrivers, can & bottle openers, scissors, hex wrenches (in two sizes), safety hammer, seat belt cutter, and an LED flashlight with five focusing settings and an emergency flashing setting.

See All Gifts for the Outdoor Adventurer >>


For the Birder:

Woodpecker Stapler

Woodpecker Stapler
Price: $22.00

The perfect desk pet, this little woodpecker will happily sit on your desk, ready to assist with all of your paperwork stapling.

See All Gifts for the Birder >>


For the Young Explorer:

Adventurer's Vest

Adventurer’s Vest
Price: $25.00

This adorable vest is perfect for your little explorer. It has pockets with zippers and pouches with velcro, great for storing tools and treasures. Available in Small (~3 years), Medium (~5 years), and Large (~7 years).

See All Gifts for the Young Explorer >>


For the Ardent Mass Audubon Supporter:

Mass Audubon Nalgene Water Bottle with Spring Peeper

Mass Audubon Nalgene Water Bottle
Price: $17.00

Featuring a bright illustration of the native Peeper frog, this 32-ounce wide mouth bottle by Nalgene is rugged and leakproof. We have a whole collection of exciting new Mass Audubon gear, including t-shirts, hats, drinkware, and more, so check it out!

See All Mass Audubon Gear >>

American Robin © Lee Fortier

Take 5: Ravenous Robins

Many backyard birders are surprised to see this traditional “herald of spring” hopping about in the depths of winter. Although many of our robins do migrate (hence the species name migratorius), an increasing number of these red-breasted songsters are passing the winter in Massachusetts each year. Winter robins rely on berries and other small fruits to survive the winter, so if you’d like to attract them to your yard, consider planting more native fruiting plants.

Learn more about how robins survive the cold months of winter on our website, and enjoy these five lovely photos of robins from past years of our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

American Robin © Richard Antinarelli

American robin © Richard Antinarelli

American Robin in an American Holly © Megan O'Leary

American robin in an American holly © Megan O’Leary

American Robin © Jane Parker

American robin in a cedar tree © Jane Parker

American Robin © Lee Fortier

American robin eating berries © Lee Fortier

American robin eating berries © Elizabeth Fabiano

American robin eating berries © Elizabeth Fabiano

What To Do This Weekend: Dec 2-3

Go on full moon hikes, draw winter trees, learn about backyard birds, attend a holiday open house, and more this weekend.

Greater Boston

Tap into your inner artist and learn about trees during Drawing at Habitat: Winter Trees in Belmont. Begin indoors discussing different branching patterns. Then move outside with sketchbooks and pencils to draw what you find. (adults, registration required)

Get into the holiday spirit and attend a Wreath Making Workshop at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton. Start with a balsam wreath base and add evergreen cuttings, cones and other natural elements. Finish your creation with your choice of ornaments and ribbon. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

Go on a Full Moon Family Owl Prowl at Broadmoor in Natick. Learn about owl calls, behavior, and habitat while exploring Broadmoor under moonlit skies. (families w/ children ages 6+, registration required)

Discover the beauty of Moose Hill in Sharon at night during a Full Moon Hike. Call for owls, test your night vision, and search the skies for constellations. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

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North Shore

Enjoy an early-morning guided Bird Walk at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Birds you may see include great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, pileated woodpeckers, cedar waxwings, and more. (adults, registration required)

Drop in at Joppa Flats in Newburyport for an up-close winter wildlife experience! During Meet Backyard Birds, watch demonstrations on bird research and banding and learn about your own backyard birds. (all ages)

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Central Massachusetts

Explore Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester during a Saturday Morning Bird Walk and discover the immense variety of birdlife that exists at this large urban sanctuary. We’ll teach you the basics of birding and bird identification during an easy-to-moderate walk along the trails. (adults, registration required)

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Connecticut River Valley

Explore the beauty of Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton as you hike the sanctuary trails at a relaxed pace during a Sense of the Season Walk. A naturalist will share info natural history along the way. (adults and children ages 4+, registration required)

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South of Boston

Attend the Holiday Open House at North River in Marshfield and enjoy cider and snacks while shopping for unique and locally handmade gifts created by the South Shore Woodturners and other local artisans.

Explore Oak Knoll in Attleboro at night during a Full Moon Hike. Take time to let your eyes adjust to the dim light and practice using your natural night vision.  Learn about nocturnal animals of Massachusetts as you hike the trails and listen for night sounds. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

Go on a Moonrise Owl Prowl at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth and Westport. We’ll use our best night vision skills as we walk and listen to calls of multiple species of owls and will learn more about each species, as well as interesting facts and information about any other nighttime wildlife that is discovered. (adults, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cardinal Barbara VanDingstee

Save on Gift Memberships!

Looking for the perfect gift? Think outside the box! This holiday season give the gift of rivers, forests, marshes, and meadows.

Now through November 30, Mass Audubon gift memberships are just $32—half off the regular rate!

Members enjoy free admission to more than 50 wildlife sanctuaries, and many other great benefits, including Explore, our quarterly newsletter, and member-only discounts on walks, talks, classes, and camps.

Learn more about all the great benefits of Mass Audubon membership, and purchase your gift memberships today for half off the regular rate.

A personal e-card notification to your gift membership recipient is available for memberships purchased online.

Offer valid through November 30, 2017, for new members only.

What To Do This Weekend: Nov 24-26

There are so many ways to Opt Outside this weekend, starting on Black Friday. Go for a walk, attend a festival, or join a program.

Greater Boston

Spend your Black Friday away from the malls and outside in nature! During Drumlin Farm’s Giving Thanks for Nature in Lincoln, take a walk through the sanctuary as local artists give trailside performances, then contribute your own expressions of thanks with family-friendly crafts and activities.

Head to the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton for a Free Black Friday Hike and Art Activity. During a guided hike, be creative by constructing landscape art with natural materials. After the hike, head indoors to create Eric Carle-inspired art in our studio space. (families, registration required)

As the natural world turns into shades of browns and tans, odd shaped objects begin to take center stage. During Galls, Burs, Pods, and More at Boston Nature Center, discover surprises in a meadow that is filled with fantastic seed shapes. Collect a bouquet of dried flowers and learn about the variety of flower structures and shapes. (adults, registration required)

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South of Boston

After a filling Thanksgiving dinner, join Allens Pond for their Great, BIG “Walk it Off” Hike in South Dartmouth and Westport. Travel from the Allens Pond field station along the beach and onto the Quansett Trail—a scenic, calorie-burning blitz of approximately 6 miles. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Friday Morning Bird Walk at North River in Marshfield. Birders of all levels will enjoy spending the morning searching for birds in a variety of habitats year-round. (adults)

Oak Knoll is Attleboro is hosting a Teen Conservation Club series. During it, teens will delve into environmental science with activities like monitoring local amphibian populations, exploring the health of local wetlands, creating enrichment for our nature center’s animal collection, and investigating local conservation topics. (ages 13-17, registration required)

More in South of Boston

North Shore

Go Birding from Nahant to East Boston with Joppa Flats. Look for sea ducks, loons, grebes, and winter shorebirds such as purple sandpipers. Other possible sightings include black-headed and mew gulls, king eiders, and Barrow’s goldeneyes. (adults, registration required)

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Cape Cod and Islands

Felix Neck is hosting its annual Fall Festival in Edgartown on Friday. This celebration of fall is a Vineyard tradition featuring hayrides, face painting, live music, food, wreath making, a weather station and crafts for kids, live animals, and trail walk. (all ages, registration required)

Drop in anytime on Saturday at Wellfleet Bay for their Sea Turtle Open House. Learn more about sea turtles and why they strand on the beaches of Cape Cod in the fall. Get a behind-the-scenes look at rescue efforts.

More in Cape Cod and the Islands

Western Massachusetts Youth Climate Summit / Phil Doyle

Thankful For Young Climate Leaders

As we head into Thanksgiving during this tumultuous political era, I find myself reflecting back on the challenges and progress of the past year, both close to home and around the globe. It’s easy to get discouraged by the nightly news, but something that continues to inspire me is the vision of young people.

Western Massachusetts Youth Climate Summit / Phil Doyle

As Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Program Coordinator, I had the privilege of meeting Alice and Mari, two of the three girls that successfully lobbied Lexington to change its bylaws to allow for more solar energy, protected a local tract of forest, and helped convince their school to put solar panels on the roof. They spoke with the poise of many adults, but are still years away from driving.

I also helped out with a casual gathering known as a “climate café,” in which kids ages 6-11 expressed imaginative, fearless ideas of how to address climate change while wondering why the grown-ups had yet to solve such an obvious problem.

And last week, I watched the Western Massachusetts Youth Climate Summit unfold at the Hitchcock Center and Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Area high school students learned about real-world sustainability practices, the value of natural ecosystems in fighting climate change, and they heard from other young climate leaders at COP23 in Bonn, Germany via Skype. Never was there a question of what should we do, only how can we do it.

Younger Americans are far more likely to believe that climate change is real and driven primarily by our burning of fossil fuels. They are also more likely to support actions to address climate change. For those coming of age now, future projections of sea level rise and extreme heat at the end of the century are not an abstract future–they will live to see the consequences of our collective action.

As we head into Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for young people, their clarity of thought, and their ambition. Let’s make sure they inherit a world that allows them to rise to their potential.

— Daniel Brown

Everyday Nature Heroes

As the season of giving approaches, I want to thank you  for what you do to protect the nature of Massachusetts every day.

Together, you are 125,000 strong: members, volunteers, and passionate advocates who act, speak, and even march on behalf of wildlife and wild lands.

Because of you, there are beautiful landscapes to explore and enjoy, from the mountains of Western Massachusetts to barrier beaches on the Cape and Islands.

I hope you are encouraged by what’s possible when we work together, and are inspired to make a gift to Mass Audubon. We are counting on you to meet the challenges the new year will bring.

Your gift will have even greater impact thanks to three wonderful supporters who have pledged to match all donations from today through Giving Tuesday, up to $15,000! 

We need you. Nature needs you. And now, more than ever, we all need nature.

Gary Clayton
President

One more thing! As a way to say thank you, if you make a donation of $35 or more, we’ll send you a free “Nature Needs You” Mass Audubon tote bag!