Gibbet Hill, Groton, MA © Kirsta Davey

Take 5: Winter Landscapes

With our first major statewide snowstorm behind us, winter has certainly arrived in Massachusetts. The shoveling, snow blowing, and slippery driving conditions may not be ideal, but there’s nothing like a fresh blanket of snow to bring out the beauty of nature in winter.

In that spirit, here are five gorgeous winter landscapes from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2019 photo contest winners will be announced very soon, so keep your eyes peeled! Update: Check out the winners here >

DelCarte Conservation Area, Franklin, MA © Art Donahue
DelCarte Conservation Area, Franklin, MA © Art Donahue
Sunset on the Charles River, Newton, MA © Barry Hass
Sunset on the Charles River, Newton, MA © Barry Hass
Near Farrar Pond, Lincoln, MA © Lynn DeLisi
Near Farrar Pond, Lincoln, MA © Lynn DeLisi
The Esplanade, Boston, MA © Sylvia Zarco
The Esplanade, Boston, MA © Sylvia Zarco
Gibbet Hill, Groton, MA © Kirsta Davey
Gibbet Hill, Groton, MA © Kirsta Davey
Snowshoeing

What To Do This Weekend: Dec 7-8

Go snowshoeing, find nature-inspired gifts, look for owls, search for sea turtles, learn about coyotes, attend a potluck, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Snowshoeing

Connecticut River Valley

Attend a Holiday Craft Workshop at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton to make nature crafts using recycled, non-plastic materials. Bring your imagination and we’ll supply the rest! (families, registration required)

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Central Massachusetts

The snow is here! Head to Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester or Wachusett Meadow in Princeton for a Pop-up Snowshoe Adventure. (adults and children, registration required)

Enjoy a Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Broad Meadow Brook. Discover the immense variety of birdlife that exists at our large urban sanctuary as you explore its trails with an expert guide. (adults, registration required)

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North Shore

Shop nature-inspired gifts crafted by local artisans and find something unique for everyone on your list at Ipswich River’s Pop-up Holiday Market in Topsfield. Enjoy live music and purchase food from the Sacred Cod food truck and Pure Pastry.

During Joppa Flats’ Seabirds of Cape Ann field trip, visit Halibut, Andrews, and Eastern points as well as Brace Cove, Niles Pond, and the Gloucester Harbor area. Target species will include Red-throated Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Harlequin Duck, Black Guillemot, and three species of scoters. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Draw Owls from Life at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton. This hands-on workshop will help you explore methods for developing your owl sketches, as well as techniques for capturing depth, volume, and texture. (adults and children 15+, registration required)

Take part in Afternoon Chores at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. 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)

Go on an Owl Prowl Adventure at Broadmoor. Under the moon and stars, search and listen for our resident Screech, Barred and Great Horned owls. (families, registration required)

Learn about the behaviors and life history of the coyote, and to look for their signs and tracks as part of Wildlife in the City: Coyotes at Boston Nature Center. Leave with helpful hints on how to coexist with these new city neighbors safely and peacefully. (adults, registration required)

During Stories in Stone at Stony Brook in Norfolk, hike the sanctuary to see and identify various distinctive glacial landforms as well as the evidence of how those stones were put to use in developing New England. (adults, registration required)

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South of Boston

Take a Sunset Owl Prowl at Tidmarsh in Plymouth to look our resident owls and those who may just be passing through. (adults, registration required)

Head to North River in Marshfield for a Holiday Open House, where you can shop for unique and locally handmade gifts in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy free admission, cider, snacks, craft demonstrations, a Discovery Room for the kids, and more.

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

Join the Sea Turtle Patrol and search for cold-stunned juvenile sea turtles stranded on Cape Cod Bay beaches on the high tide. Learn about sea turtle biology, behavior, and conservation. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

Come one, come all to a special Community Potluck that’s kicking off a year-long celebration honoring Felix Neck’s 50th anniversary! Warm your heart by the fire, make new friends, and reflect on the sanctuary’s five decades of inspiring nature heroes. 

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Cedar Waxwings on a variety of crab apple © Stephen Kent

Take 5: Birds Love Berries

As winter closes in, many species of wildlife look to fuel up for the challenging conditions of winter. Fortunately, several plant species take advantage of this in their seed dispersal strategies by producing delicious and nutritious berries that wildlife will eat then excrete, depositing seeds in a new location along with a dose of fertilizer. While many of the fall berries have long since gone by, some varieties last well into winter, providing a larder for the fruit-eating species that are active all winter long.

If you have a fruit-bearing plant in your yard or neighborhood, you’ll have a better chance of capturing a great photo of some fruit-eating birds. Visit our website for more tips to attract birds to your feeders and enjoy these five photos of birds snacking on berries from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Cedar Waxwings on a variety of crab apple © Stephen Kent
Cedar Waxwings on a variety of crab apple © Stephen Kent
Pine Grosbeak on a variety of crab apple © Kevin Bourinot
Pine Grosbeak on a variety of crab apple © Kevin Bourinot
Eastern Bluebird on Winterberry © Cheryl Rose
Eastern Bluebird on Winterberry © Cheryl Rose
American Robin Eating Winterberries © Alan B. Ward
American Robin Eating Winterberries © Alan B. Ward
Northern Flicker on a variety of crab apple © Peggy Chao
Northern Flicker on a variety of crab apple © Peggy Chao

For Land, For People, and For Wildlife

Today, at a Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary near you, you helped to save something truly extraordinary. You did it last week, and the week before that. In fact, you did it every day this year.

And you are in the very best of company: your friends, neighbors, and 135,000 like-minded people all across the state are also taking action to protect the nature of Massachusetts.

On Giving Tuesday, we’ll share some stories via email and Facebook about how your support is making a difference for wildlife, wild lands, and people. We hope you will be encouraged by what’s possible when we all work together, and inspired to make a gift to Mass Audubon.

Your donation will have even greater impact thanks to a few wonderful supporters who have pledged to match all Giving Tuesday donations, up to $20,000!

Donate today >

Wild Turkey © Brad Dinerman

Take 5: Strut Your Stuff

As you may be dining on plenty of turkey this week, we thought we’d turn our attention away from the domesticated variety that graces many a Thanksgiving table, and instead “show off” that iconic show-off, the Wild Turkey.

Wild Turkey can stand four feet tall, with a large, bulky body covered with bronzy, iridescent feathers. The tom (male) has a reddish-blue head and a hair-like “beard” protruding from his breast. The smaller female is duller in coloration than the male.

In the spring, tom turkeys make their famous gobble in order to lure in females. Courtship begins when the tom spreads its tail, fluffs out its feathers, swells out the facial wattles, and struts in front of the females. This elaborate dance may be entertaining for us, but the (turkey) ladies love it! Males are polygamous and will mate with several females if given the opportunity. 

Want to impress your family with a few $5 words this Turkey Day? Brush up on your turkey vocabulary with our handy guide to Wild Turkey Terminology. And enjoy these five photos of toms strutting their stuff for the ladies, all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Wild Turkey © Jeffrey Dannay
Wild Turkey © Jeffrey Dannay
Wild Turkey © Mike Snow
Wild Turkey © Mike Snow
Wild Turkey © Brad Dinerman
Wild Turkey © Brad Dinerman
Wild Turkey © Mark Bethoney
Wild Turkey © Mark Bethoney
Wild Turkey © Patti Vartanian Vaughan
Wild Turkey © Patti Vartanian Vaughan
Turkeys

What To Do This Weekend: Nov 23-24

Learn about wild turkeys, attend a forest festival, improve your cell phone photography skills, go on a nature walk, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Turkeys
Wild turkeys

North Shore

Journey back in time during the Family Forest Festival at Ipswich River in Topsfield and learn about the people and wildlife who have called these forests home. Go on a hike, try your hand at building a kid-sized log cabin, see and use real historical carpentry tools, and learn the names and stories of towering trees and woodland wildlife. (families, registration for the hike is 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

Greater Boston

It’s Turkey Time at the Boston Nature Center. Search the sanctuary for turkeys, create turkey track posters, examine feathers under a microscope, and create a craft to take home. (families)

During Cell Phone Nature Photography at Moose Hill in Sharon, hike up our popular Bluff Trail while learning how to get the most out of your cell phone’s camera. (adults, registration required)

Go on a field trip from Drumlin Farm for Rhode Island Rarities. Species to be on the lookout for include Black-headed Gull, Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese, Eurasian Wigeon, Black Vulture, and Tufted Duck. (adults and teens 14+, registration required)

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South of Boston

What better way to get in the holiday spirit than a Walkin Talkin Turkey Walk at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. Explore the former cranberry farm and learn all about the star of many a Thanksgiving table, turkeys! (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

Take a Long Scenic Hike at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth. Cover at least 2 miles of uneven terrain and opens up the senses to the wonders of the sanctuary! (adults, registration required)

Head to Oak Knoll in Attleboro for Talkin’ Turkey to discuss an animal that is so quintessentially American it was almost made into the national bird. Learn turkey facts and turkey myths, and go on a hike to look for some on our trails. (adults and children, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Connecticut River Valley

Get a perfect introduction to nature during a First Child in the Woods Walk at Arcadia in Easthampton/Northampton. This one-hour hike will enable your child or children to gently discover the natural world around them and give you skills to confidently lead explorations of your own. (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Blue Jay © William Zhen

Take 5: Boisterous Blue Jays

Clever, pugnacious Blue Jays are well-known for their territorial behavior and raucous Jay! Jay! call, but they are actually capable of an amazing array of vocal sounds, including whistles, toots, and wheedle-wheedle calls. Blue Jays can even mimic the scream of a Red-tailed Hawk in order to scare other birds!

Like all blue birds, Blue Jays are not actually, in fact, blue! Most of the vibrant feather colors found in birds, like yellow and red, come from pigments in their food that absorb certain wavelengths of light, but no birds (and almost no species in the entire animal kingdom) are capable of producing blue pigments. Instead, the blue color is the result of light refracting off of tiny, specialized structures in the bird’s feathers.

Learn more about Blue Jays on our website, read a blog post on why they are so noisy this time of year, and check out our Blue Jay Quick Guide and enjoy these five photos from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Blue Jay © William Zhen
Blue Jay © William Zhen
Blue Jay © Owens Linehan
Blue Jay © Owens Linehan
Blue Jays © Jonathan Eckerson
Blue Jays © Jonathan Eckerson
Blue Jay © Sue Feldberg
Blue Jay © Sue Feldberg
Blue Jays © Jillian Alexander
Blue Jays © Jillian Alexander
Eastern Screech-Owl Kim Caruso

What To Do This Weekend: Nov 16-17

Look for owls after dark, practice yoga, take a photography workshop, celebrate bird migration, attend a Climate Cafe, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Eastern Screech-Owl © Kim Caruso
Eastern Screech-Owl © Kim Caruso

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)

Do you want to dive into the world of digital photography and learn what all of those buttons on your camera are for? During Digital Photography for Beginners at Moose Hill in Sharon, gain the confidence and skills to switch your camera to manual mode for good. (adults, registration required)

Bring your flashlight and explore Stony Brook in Norfolk after dark while going on a Beaver Walk. (adults and children, registration required)

Head to Broadmoor in Natick for Owl Prowl Adventures. Learn about local owls while walking through fields and forests under moon listening for resident screech, barred and great horned owls. (families, registration required)

Give a Hoot about Owls at the Boston Nature Center. Walk the trails and look for signs of owls, dissect an owl pellet, and make a take home craft. (families, 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)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Discuss birdwatching basics, how to choose the right binoculars, and what to look for in a field guide during Birding for Beginners at Ipswich River in Topsfield. After the indoor portion, head out onto the sanctuary and learn what to look and listen for. (adults, registration required)

It’s a Bird Migration Celebration at Joppa Flats in Newburyport. This fun, free family event features bird banding demonstrations, interactive games about bird migration, and lots of tabletop science.

More on the North Shore

South of Boston

Go on an Owl Prowl at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. Start the evening off by becoming familiar with their calls then take a twilight walk where we will stop, look, and listen for “whooooo” might be out there! (families, registration required)

Explore Oak Knoll in Attleboro after dark during their Owl Prowl. Start off indoors with an interactive presentation and owl pellet dissection. Then head outside for a night hike to listen for evidence of our feathery friends. (adults and children ages 5+, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Central Massachusetts

Head to Wachusett Meadow in Princeton for Classics & Curiosities, a once-a-year book club that pairs natural history books with interesting specimens from the sanctuary’s permitted natural history collection. This year, we’re reading Thor Hanson’s Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

During Terrific Turkeys and Fall Harvest at Laughing Brook in Hampden, learn about wild turkeys, go for a hike, and look for evidence of these impressive birds, all the while scouting for autumn’s woodland harvest. (adults and children, registration required)

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Berkshires

Spend the morning visiting several Berkshire lakes in search of migrating waterfowl that only briefly stop in the area as part of Birding in the Berks. End the outing with a stop at Bartlett’s Apple Orchard for hot cider and donuts. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Cape Cod and Islands

Gear up for Thanksgiving with this good-natured, naturalist-led Turkey Trek. On this walk learn about their behavior, natural history, and curious turkey facts while looking for birds and wildlife along the way. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

Attend a Climate Cafe at MV Public Charter School on Martha’s Vineyard. Enjoy coffee and community conversations about local environmental issues and climate related topics at different island businesses.

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Least Tern © Sandy Selesky

Take 5: That’s a Mouthful!

Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to talk with your mouth full? Apparently, these birds never got the memo. Here are five photos of birds that may or may not have bitten off more than they can chew, all submitted in the past to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2019 photo contest is closed, but we’ll be announcing the winners soon, so stay tuned!

Least Tern © Sandy Selesky
Least Tern © Sandy Selesky
Great Black-backed Gull © Susumu Kishihara
Great Black-backed Gull © Susumu Kishihara
Great Blue Heron © Jennifer Atwood
Great Blue Heron © Jennifer Atwood
Eastern Phoebe © Amy Severino
Eastern Phoebe © Amy Severino
American Robin © Raju Murthy
American Robin © Raju Murthy
Northern Pintail © Brian Vigorito

What To Do This Weekend: Nov 9-10

Go on a nature walk, search for ducks, learn how to make cheese, look for owls after dark, make a mandala, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Northern Pintail © Brian Vigorito
Northern Pintail © Brian Vigorito

Connecticut River Valley

During Trees at High Ledges in Shelburne, hike through the forests to the top of the ledges, all the while learning how to identify trees once their leaves have fallen. (adults, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Central Massachusetts

On the See Waterfowl in Greater Worcester Tour, explore Leesville Pond and other sites in the greater Worcester area by van in search of Hooded and Common mergansers, Green-winged Teal, American Widgeon, and Northern Pintail ducks. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

As part of The Ice Age Geologic History of Ipswich River in Topsfield, hike to key locations to observe and learn how to identify various distinctive glacial landforms, their characteristics, how they came about, and how they continue to influence the world around us today. (adults, 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

Greater Boston

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)

Head to Broadmoor in Natick for Owl Prowl Adventures. Learn about local owls while walking through fields and forests under moon listening for resident screech, barred and great horned owls. (families, registration required)

Get the Most from Your SmartPhone Camera at Stony Brook in Norfolk. Take a short photo tour and then head out to put those camera phones through their paces. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Nature Walk at Boston Nature Centre to stretch your legs and your mind with an exploration of our forests, meadows, and seasonal wetlands. Ask questions and learn about the biodiversity in an urban setting. (adults, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Sanctuary Director Lauren Kras and former Tidmarsh Farms owners Glorianna Davenport and Evan Schulman will lead a walk Celebrating the Legacy of Cranberry Farming and Innovative Restoration at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. (adults, registration required)

Go on a Fall Foliage Exploration at Attleboro Springs to explore the colors of fall and learn about the science of dendrology (trees). (all ages, registration required)

Make a Fall Leaf Mandala at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth. This ancient form of art can be very relaxing and some find that it helps deepen our spiritual connection with nature and the universe. (adults, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Cape Cod

Take a Seabird Cruise from Sesuit Harbor in Dennis into Cape Cod Bay aboard the Albatross. Search for alcids, loons, gannets, and sea ducks in flight and floating on the waves. You may also spot gray and harbor seals and other marine life. (adults, registration required)

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