Osprey © David Ennis

What To Do This Weekend: April 20-21

Take part in an egg hunt, check for osprey, clean up a beach, go birding, search for salamanders, look for wildflowers, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Osprey © David Ennis
Osprey © David Ennis

South of Boston

Go on an Egg Hunt at Oak Knoll in Attleboro. Dye eggs with natural dyes, create a bird nest, match different eggs to the animals that laid them, meet live rabbits, and search the sanctuary for hidden eggs! (families, registration required)

Help Allens Pond in South Dartmouth conduct Osprey Nest Checks along the Westport River. Along the way, learn valuable insight into the lives of osprey. (all ages, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

During Bird Research in Action! at Wellfleet Bay, meet James and the rest of the bird banding team to learn about banding methods and the information gathered from this research. You will likely get to see live birds up-close and observe the banding process. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

Take part in an Earth Day Beach Clean Up at Felix Neck in Edgartown. Walk along our shoreline collecting trash along the way. Afterwards head on over to the after-party at Sailing Camp Park in Oak Bluffs.

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Central Massachusetts

Get to know Spring Wildflowers during one of Broad Meadow Brook’s Essential Nature classes in Worcester. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

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)

Make a Cedar Bark Basket at Ipswich River in Topsfield. While working, discuss the harvest and preparation of materials, as well as the history behind the discovery and replication of these very old baskets. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

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.

During Salamanders and Citizen Science at Moose Hill in Sharon, hike to a vernal pool, look for egg masses, determine if they are yellow spotted salamander or wood frog, and count how many egg masses of each type we find. (families, registration required)

Become a Neighborhood Naturalist at Boston Nature Center. Using the iNaturalist app, identify the wildlife we find and help scientists collect valuable information on species populations and distributions. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon

Take 5: Salamander Swarm

Every year, warming spring days trigger amphibians like spotted salamanders and wood frogs to migrate en masse to vernal pools to breed on the night of the first soaking rain above 45°F—a phenomenon known as “Big Night.” This spectacular annual event is taking place all across Massachusetts.

Vernal pools are temporary, isolated ponds that form when spring rain and meltwater from ice and snow flood into woodland hollows and low meadows. These pools provide critical breeding habitat for certain amphibian and invertebrate species—since vernal pools eventually dry up, they are inaccessible and inhospitable to predatory fish.

To celebrate the return of spring and the mass migration now taking place all around us, here are five great photos of native salamanders. Note that not all salamanders migrate to and breed in vernal pools—the eastern red-backed salamander, for example, has no aquatic larval stage at all, so you’re most likely to find one under a moist, rotting log or rock while northern dusky salamanders are stream denizens and lay their eggs in flowing seeps in June or July.

Blue-spotted Salamander © Patrick Randall
Blue-spotted Salamander © Patrick Randall
Eastern Red-backed Salamander © Chris Liazos
Eastern Red-backed Salamander © Chris Liazos
Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon
Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon
Northern Dusky Salamander © Patrick Randall
Northern Dusky Salamander © Patrick Randall
Blue-spotted Salamander © Brendan Cramphorn
Blue-spotted Salamander © Brendan Cramphorn
Tree Swallow

What To Do This Weekend: Apr 13-14

Practice yoga, go on a nature walk, search for hawks, learn how to garden for butterflies, attend a sheep festival, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Tree Swallow

Greater Boston

Experience Yoga and Mindfulness at Habitat in Belmont. After a 45-minute slow and gentle yoga class indoors, head outside to explore the trails. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, exploring the sanctuary’s different habitats looking for signs of spring. (adults and children ages 12+)

Meet at Blue Hills Trailside Museum for a Woodcock Walk. Learn a little about these strange birds before venturing out in search of a male bird displaying. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

Enjoy a Spring Nature Walk at Boston Nature Center. Observe the beauty of spring flowers in bloom, listen to the birds as they start returning from their winter grounds, and watch for animals tracks in the fresh mud. (families, registration required)

Are you Wild about Reptiles? If so head to Broadmoor in Natick to meet some of the species of reptiles up close and take a short walk to see more reptiles in the wild.

Take a Sunday Saunter at Moose Hill in Sharon to experience nature through the seasons. This walk will focus on vernal pool ecology. (adults)

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North Shore

Head over to Ipswich River in Topsfield to learn how to Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds to Your Landscape. Get info on landscaping with native plants and learn why they are necessary to sustain native insect, bird, and animal species. (adults, registration required)

Experience Spring Hawkwatching with Joppa Flats in Newburyport. Start with an indoor presentation to find out everything you need to know before heading out on a field trip to Plum Island to practice your hawk ID skills. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Meet Finch, Monarch, Willow, and the rest of Wachusett Meadow’s flock during the Sheep and Wool Festival in Princeton. Enjoy sheep shearing demonstrations, local vendors, crafters, kid’s activities, and more.

Bring your preschooler to Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester for Story Hour. Listen to a story, go for a walk, and make a craft. (families, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Explore Arcadia’s unique floodplain forest during Canoeing Mill River in Easthampton and Northampton. Identify spring plants on the shore, as well as aquatic plants, look for returning songbirds, and watch for Great Blue Herons. (adults registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Cape Cod and Islands

Celebrate Spring at Wellfleet Bay during a leisurely hike to discover flowers blooming, birds returning and more as the sanctuary springs back to life. (adults registration required)

Spend the afternoon in the Chillmark Library for Chowder and Chat. Learn about Felix Neck’s citizen science programs and enjoy some chowder.

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Baltimore Oriole © Lee Millet

Take 5: Birds of the Rainbow

Spring is in the air and all of Massachusetts is eagerly awaiting the return of bright, beautiful color to the drab, grey-brown landscape of winter. In that spirit, here are five colorful birds to look for as the weather warms to make your day a little more colorful.

Scarlet Tanager © Jeff Carpenter
Scarlet Tanager © Jeff Carpenter
Baltimore Oriole © Lee Millet
Baltimore Oriole © Lee Millet
Yellow Warbler © Bernard Creswick
Yellow Warbler © Bernard Creswick
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female) © David Pallin
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female) © David Pallin
Indigo Bunting © Yunzhong He
Indigo Bunting © Yunzhong He
blue spotted salamander

What To Do This Weekend: April 6-7

Watch for woodcocks, explore vernal pools, learn how to bird by ear, get tips on how to garden for pollinators, go on nature hikes, attend a climate cafe, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

 Blue-spotted Salamander
 Blue-spotted Salamander

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)

During a Vernal Pool Exploration at Ipswich River in Topsfield, walk to these special wetlands and look for wood frogs and salamanders that use these pools to reproduce. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Take part in a Fiber Arts Exploration at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Spend the afternoon spinning, needle felting, and natural dyeing, then visit the ewes and new lambs. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Saturday Morning Hike at Moose Hill in Sharon to learn about the changing seasons, local geology, and conservation. (adults and children, registration required)

Head to Boston Nature Center for Marvelous Mud. Learn who lives in mud, how it helps the forest grow, and try your hand at some nature and art. (families)

Celebrate Big Night at Stony Brook in Norfolk by walking the lantern-lit trails to encounter costumed characters waiting to teach you about amphibians. Inside check out live specimens from vernal pools and make crafts. (adults and children, registration required)

Experience Wacky Woodcocks at Broadmoor in Natick. Watch and listen as they rocket up 300 feet, then call loudly as they zigzag during their dive back towards earth. (adults, registration required)

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South of Boston

On a Welcome Spring Nature Hike at Tidmarsh in Plymouth, observe all the sights and sounds — peepers chorusing, basking turtles, buds bursting — that come back to life with longer and warmer days after a long winter. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

During Timberdoodles and Tapas at North River in Marshfield taste a variety of delicacies and then witness the amazing courtship display of the male American Woodcock. (adults, registration required)

Attend a free Family Habitat Day at Oak Knoll in Attleboro to look for interesting animals, plants, and see what has visited the sanctuary. (families, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Berkshires

Learn how to Bird by Ear at Pleasant Valley in Lenox. Get tricks to sound identification while hearing how bird sounds go hand in hand with habitat, behavior, and other clues. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Connecticut River Valley

Find out how to Garden for Pollinators at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. Get ideas and tools for creating or transforming your garden into a pollinator haven. (adultes, registration required)

During Vernal Pools at Night, take a short evening walk to listen for these awesome amphibians at Arcadia’s vernal pool. (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Martha’s Vineyard

Attend a Climate Cafe at the Chillmark Tavern to have a conversation about oceans. Don’t forget to bring your mug! (adults and children ages 10+)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Central Massachusetts

Get to know Spring Tree Flowers during one of Broad Meadow Brook’s Essential Nature classes in Worcester. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Katydid © April Churchill

Take 5: Fooled You!

April Fools! Nature is chock-full of animals trying to “fool” potential predators with an amazing array of evolutionary tricks.

Take, for example, the beautiful, veined, leaf-green wings of the katydid or the “eyespots” on the wings of a polyphemus moth. The Eastern Screech Owl’s camouflaged plumage can render it nearly invisible against a tree trunk while expert mimics like the unspotted looper moth or the giant swallowtail caterpillar can be indistinguishable from a brown leaf and a dollop of bird poop, respectively.

Enjoy these five photos of wildlife that can easily fool you—they’re probably a bit more pleasant than your average office prank, anyway!

Katydid © April Churchill
Katydid © April Churchill
Eastern Screech-Owl © Brad Dinerman
Eastern Screech-Owl © Brad Dinerman
Polyphemus Moth © Martha Pfeiffer
Polyphemus Moth © Martha Pfeiffer
Giant Swallowtail "Bird Poop" Caterpillar © Mass Audubon
Giant Swallowtail “Bird Poop” Caterpillar © Mass Audubon
Unspotted Looper Moth © Kristin Foresto
Unspotted Looper Moth © Kristin Foresto

What To Do This Weekend: March 30-31

Celebrate all things sheep, experience Big Night, go on a bird walk, look at the stars, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Sheep and lambs

Greater Boston

Head to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln for Woolapalooza, the annual festival about all things sheep! Meet our new lambs, watch sheep shearing demos, shop items created by local fiber artisans, and much more.

Discover the connections between Henry David Thoreau, climate change science, and Concord while attending the Stone Memorial Lecture at The Center for the Arts in Natick. (registration required)

Go on a Woodcock Walk with Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton. Learn about these strange birds before venturing out in search of a male bird displaying. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

Enjoy a Spring Bird Walk at Boston Nature Center to observe resident birds and spring migrants. Local bird enthusiasts will help find and identify birds through field marks, sounds, and behaviors. (adults, registration required)

People of all ages and skill levels can meet up at Habitat in Belmont for a Morning Bird Walk. Look for signs of migrating species, mating behaviors, and nest building.

Take part in an Evening Wildlife Prowl at Stony Brook in Norfolk. The pace will be relaxed and senses heightened as you look for creatures that come out just as the sun is setting. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Head to Ipswich River in Topsfield for Deep Sky Astronomy to look for variable stars, binary stars, star clusters, gaseous nebulae, galaxies, and more using a large reflector telescope. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

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)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way through a guided Forest Breathing Walk at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Broad Meadow Brook field trip to Bird Sachuset Point in Rhode Island. Scan the rocky coast for Horned Larks, Buffleheads, Harlequin Ducks, and more. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

It’s Big Night at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. Spend an enchanted family evening celebrating the annual migration of thousands of amphibians. (registration required)

Cape Cod

Celebrate Spring at Wellfleet Bay with a leisurely, naturalist-guided hike to discover flowers blooming, birds returning and more as the sanctuary springs back to life. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

South of Boston

Help Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Team for a Coastal Waterbird Work Day in Westport by erecting fencing that is used to symbolically fence off areas where Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers nest. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Water drop © Greg Allison

A Day Older, a Day Water Wiser

Water is a precious resource and our use (or misuse) of water has a direct impacts on our energy footprint. The water we use at home to do laundry, shower, or clean the dishes all impacts how much energy we consume: it takes energy to clean and transport that water, to treat and dispose of wastewater after we are finished with it, and to heat it when needed.

© Greg Allison

These Water Stats May Surprise You

Americans are one of the least conscious water users, and therefore, energy consumers, withdrawing an average of 98 gallons each day. About 60% of that is used indoors for toilets, clothes washers, showers, and faucets. Another 30% is used outdoors for water lawns, gardens, and plants, and the final 10% is lost to leaks in the pipes that deliver water to us.

The EPA estimates that if one out of every hundred U.S. homes switched an older toilet out for new, efficient one, the country would save more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity –that’s roughly enough energy to power 43,000 households for a month.

On top of that, hot water is responsible for about a quarter of residential energy use worldwide and requires a surprising amount of energy. In fact, running hot water out of a facet for five minutes requires about the same energy it takes to burn a 60W incandescent bulb for about 14 hours.

Be Water Wise

The close link between water and energy use means when we enhance efficiency in one category, we are often increasing the sustainable use of the other. Here are a few ways to be water wise.

Install of water efficient appliances, low flush toilets, and efficient washing machines. Look for the WaterSense products, which backed by independent, third-party certification and meet EPA’s speciation for water efficiency and performance.

Cut your average shower time to five minutes and wash only full loads of clothes. Each of these actions can reduce average water use by 7 to 8% per shower or load of laundry.

Capture rainwater to water your garden or lawn, or simply shift to plants that do not require the same amount of water to sustain them.

Pledge to be Water Wise

Commit to being a more conscious water and energy consumer for the good of people and the planet.

Take the Pledge >

Marsh Wren © Matt Filosa

Take 5: Marsh Wren Splits

True to their name, tiny-but-fierce Marsh Wrens are denizens of wetlands and saltmarshes of North America, returning to Massachusetts to breed in the spring. With a sharp eye, you’ll spot them flitting about among the reeds, rushes, and cattails, picking at the vegetation for tasty insects and spiders and aggressively vying for resources and mates.

Rarely leaving the relative safety of the dense reeds, they have developed some acrobatic moves, including grasping a stalk in each foot and scuttling up and down with their tails cocked upward. Take a walk through a marsh this spring and look both between and above the reeds for Marsh Wrens: they will occasionally flutter up above the cattails and sing “on the wing” to make themselves more conspicuous to other wrens, both males and females.

Here are five great photos of Marsh Wrens “doing the splits”, all past submissions to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Visit the photo contest page on our website to see all the past contest winners and sign up to receive alerts when this year’s contest opens.

Marsh Wren © Matt Filosa
Marsh Wren © Matt Filosa
Marsh Wren © Davey Walters
Marsh Wren © Davey Walters
Marsh Wren © Mark Rosenstein
Marsh Wren © Mark Rosenstein
Marsh Wren © Craig Daniliuk
Marsh Wren © Craig Daniliuk
Marsh Wren © Matt Filosa
Marsh Wren © Matt Filosa
Woodcock © William Freedberg

What To Do This Weekend: March 23-24

Attend a maple sugaring festival, learn how to make cheese, watch for woodcocks, enjoy a pancake breakfast, celebrate seals, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Woodcock © William Freedberg
Woodcock © William Freedberg

Greater Boston

Head to the Blue Hill’s for Maple Sugar Days at Brookwood Farm. Taste maple syrup, warm up by a bonfire, watch skilled artisans will demonstrate traditional, hand-powered crafts, and grab a bite to eat from a food truck. (all ages)

Try your hand at Simple Cheesemaking at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Sample homemade cheeses while learning the skills you need to make your own cheese at home! (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Journey back in time to enjoy the time honored tradition of turning sap to syrup at Moose Hill in Sharon during a Sugaring Weekend. Savor maple delicacies such as hot pancakes with maple syrup, “sap” dogs on buns, and maple sugar popcorn.

During Wacky Woodcocks at Broadmoor in Natick, watch and listen as these birds rocket up 300 feet, then call loudly as they zigzag during their dive back towards earth. (adults, registration required)

Go on a morning Spring Tree Identification Walk at Boston Nature Center to take a closer look at the forest around us. Along the way, find out how climate change is impacting and changing the forest compositions in Massachusetts. (adults, registration required)

Scan the marshes and ponds at Stony Brook in Norfolk for Wood Ducks, Buffleheads, Mallards, and more on a Waterfowl Walk. (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Wrap up the maple sugaring season with our Spring Flapjack Fling at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Enjoy a hearty breakfast followed by an hour-long sugaring tour to see how to transform sap to syrup.  (all ages, registration required)

Celebrate the Seal at a Joppa Flats Family Open House in Newburyport. Play ocean-themed games, create seaworthy art, and find out how to protect our oceans and coastline as they show signs of climate change. (all ages)

More on the North Shore

South of Boston

Enjoy a Welcome Spring Walk at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. The peepers are chorusing, basking turtles emerging, and buds bursting. (all ages, registration required)

Go on a Wild, Wild Woodcock Walk at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth to witness their courtship ritual at dusk. (adults, registration required)

Find out Who’s Who in the World of Hoots at North River in Marshfield. Hone your observation and listening skills on a night walk and take part in activities like dissecting pellets. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

Explore Awesome Amphibians and their wetland homes at Oak Knoll in Attleboro. After a short talk, we’ll go for a hike to see where we might find some! (all ages, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

Meet up at the Chillmark Community Center on Martha’s Vineyard for a Climate Cafe on Extreme Weather. Enjoy coffee and community conversations; don’t forget to bring your mug! (adults and children ages 10+)

Go on a Wellfleet Bay field trip to Bird Sachuset Point in Rhode Island. Scan the rocky coast for Purple Sandpipers, Harlequin Ducks, loons, and grebes; then seek out sparrows, Horned Larks, and Eastern Meadowlarks in the grasslands. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Central Massachusetts

Learn all about Spring Tree Flowers at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester, part of their Essential Nature Series. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts