"Onion Bagel Pholiota", Pholiota aurivella/limonella © Ed Anzures

Take 5: Fantastic Fungi

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you may not have noticed it’s been a banner year for mushrooms (although, “under a rock” might not be the worst place to find evidence of fungi). The classic “stem-and-cap” mushroom is typically the first thing that comes to mind when most folks think of a fungus, but estimates indicate there may be more than 2-3 million species of fungi worldwide, outnumbering plants by 10-to-1!

Biologists initially thought fungi were a part of the Plant kingdom since they have a similar lifestyle: largely immobile, often grow in soil, and produce “fruit” or fruiting bodies. However, Fungi received their own kingdom distinction in 1969 and it is now believed that fungi are actually more closely related to animals than plants—they are both “heterotrophic,” meaning they can’t produce their own food like plants, which photosynthesize. In short, both fungi and animals eat other things to get their energy, using digestive enzymes.

So the next time you’re in the produce section at the grocery store and reach for a package of mushrooms, remember that you may be more closely related to those baby bellas than the avocados across the aisle!

Here are five fantastic fungi you can enjoy thanks to submissions to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Visit our website to see and download a handy Fungi By the Numbers guide and keep an eye out for fungi on your next nature walk.

"Bear Tooth", Hericium americanum © John Zywar

“Bear Tooth”, Hericium americanum © John Zywar

"Fly Amanita", Amanita muscaria © Bruce Gilman

“Fly Amanita”, Amanita muscaria © Bruce Gilman

"Onion Bagel Pholiota", Pholiota aurivella/limonella © Ed Anzures

“Onion Bagel Pholiota”, Pholiota aurivella/limonella © Ed Anzures

"Turkey Tail", Trametes versicolor © Kathryn Dannay

“Turkey Tail”, Trametes versicolor © Kathryn Dannay

"Yellow Morel", Morchella esculentoides © Brigitte Flick

“Yellow Morel”, Morchella esculentoides © Brigitte Flick

 

Cedar Waxwing

What To Do This Weekend: Oct 20-21

Look for birds, go on a foliage or fungi hike, attend a farm festival, celebrate nature-inspired Halloween, harvest honey, band owls, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

South of Boston

Head to Attleboro Springs in Attleboro for a Fall Foliage Exploration to explore the fall colors and learn about the science of dendrology (trees). (adults and children, registration required)

Saturday is Farm Day at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield, where the grasslands will be transformed into a festival of fall farm fun including live owls, bluegrass music, hayrides, and more.

More 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)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Greater Boston

Go on a naturalist-led Fall Hike to the summit of Great Blue Hill in Milton to appreciate the fall foliage and scenic view. Learn about the area’s history, how to identify trees, and observe how wildlife is preparing for winter. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

Uncover the Secret Lives of Owls at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton.  There will a story, a sing along with the different owl calls, a clay-owl craft, and then a nature hike. (families, registration required)

During a Fungi Field Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, discover the crucial roles fungi have in the ecosystem, and methods for identifying mushrooms and other fungi in the field. (adults and teens 14+, registration required)

Enjoy Fall Birding at Broadmoor in Natick to find out what birds are staying and going and who is making what call or song. (adults, registration required)

Experience Saw-whet Owl Banding at Moose HIll in Sharon. After a presentation, take a night walk for a chance to see a saw-whet owl up close and watch the whole banding process. (adults, registration required)

Celebrate the Honey Harvest at Boston Nature Center. Learn why bees collect honey, where and how it is stored in the hive, and then, together, we will uncap the honeycomb, extract the honey in a hand-crank spinner, and enjoy some “liquid gold.” (adults and children ages 5+, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Ipswich River in Topsfield will be transformed into a magical forest for Halloween Happenings. Go on a a guided walk along our Halloween trail, home to some interesting creatures that come out just for Halloween. (adults and children ages 4+, registration required)

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

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Treat yourself to non-scary, educational fun at Broad Meadow Brook’s Boo Meadow Brook Halloween Hike in Worcester. There will also be face painting and snacks. Costumes welcome! (adults and children, registration required)

Learn how to Identify Sparrows at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. First get tips and techniques indoors before heading outside to search for sparrows in the field. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

During The Lives of Beavers at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton, learn about this animal’s amazing adaptations and life histories and search for signs of beavers. (adults, registration required

Visit Laughing Brook in Hampden and take a 3-mile, moderate Hike along the Neff Trail to a beautiful hemlock forest. Along the way we’ll talk about the past history of the area including the many stone walls that we see. (adults, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Canoe the Housatonic River with Pleasant Valley in Lenox. Along the way, watch for swallows, herons, kingfishers, muskrats, and signs of beavers. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

A Guide to Fall Foliage

All across Massachusetts, the landscape is lighting up with the brilliant colors of fall. Get the most of the season from great fall hikes to photography tips.

Top 10 Fall Foliage Hikes

The diversity of plant species across Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries means you can experience the radiance of fall foliage in an incredible variety of ways. We’ve gathered together 10 spectacular autumn hikes at wildlife sanctuaries across Massachusetts to inspire you to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the season.

Timing of Fall Foliage

Have you ever noticed that the progression of fall foliage follows a natural schedule? Certain plants become colorful early in the season, and others take their time. Here’s a quick viewer’s guide to autumn color changes.

Fall Photography at Mass Audubon

Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries are often the perfect place to snap a stunning photo of the landscapes, late-blooming flowers, and wildlife that make fall so special in the Northeast. In fact, many of the sanctuaries offer photography workshops.

See some exquisite fall photographs taken by some of the talented photographers that lead these programs, along with their best advice for lighting, composition, and technique to capture the highlights of fall in all its splendor.

The Science of Foliage

When you’re checking out nature’s painterly display, do you ever wonder why the leaves change color in the fall? Get the details.

Fall Color Activity Page

This coloring page is full of plants and animals that you can see in the fall—and it is ready for you to color! Download the page and get a quick guide to the species on the page and the colors they are in real life.

Before You Pick Up That Rake

Oh, leaves. There’s so much we love about you. The first sight of your flowers in the spring; the sound you make when you blow in the breeze during summer; your brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange come fall. And then you drop to the ground and become another thing on our to-do list.

If this sounds familiar, don’t fret—we can help. Before you break out the rake, check out our top 5 uses for fall leaves.

Happy leaf-peeping!

Green-winged Teal © Matt Filosa

Take 5: Migrating Waterfowl

Fall is a great time to see a variety of waterfowl as they pass through Massachusetts on their way to their wintering grounds. Brant, Surf and White-winged Scoters, and Red-breasted Mergansers are best viewed along the sea coast, while Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, and Ring-necked Ducks are more likely to be found in marshes or on open bodies of freshwater anywhere in the state.

To see waterfowl to best advantage, join an expert naturalist during a guided fall waterfowl program at one of Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries. Or simply enjoy these five spectacular images of migrants you might be lucky enough to spot yourself, all previously submitted to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Female Red-breasted Merganser © Nicholas Corvinus

Female Red-breasted Merganser © Nicholas Corvinus

Northern Pintails at Joppa Flats © Ken DiBiccari

Northern Pintails at Joppa Flats © Ken DiBiccari

Buffleheads © Myer Bornstein

Buffleheads © Myer Bornstein

Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega

Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega (also pictured: Mallard ducks)

Green-winged Teal © Matt Filosa

Green-winged Teal © Matt Filosa

What To Do This Weekend: Oct 13-14

Attend an owl festival, kick off the Halloween celebrations, practice yoga, look for fungi, visit a bog, start nature journaling, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Barn owl

Greater Boston

Give a hoot for owls at Trailside’s Owl Festival on Saturday and Sunday in Milton. There will be owls, crafts, food trucks, and fun for all ages.

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

Learn about the exciting ways in which monarch butterflies migrate as part of The Mighty Monarch at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, le. Start with a story, look through digital microscope to examine monarch butterflies up close, create a butterfly using air-dry clay, then go on a short nature hike. (families, registration required)

Go on a Fall Foliage Canoe down one of the most beautiful stretches of the Charles River with Broadmoor. Start from the Medfield marshes, enjoy the many colors along the bank and the smell of wild grapes. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Take a short hike to observe Autumn Colors at Boston Nature Center. Find out how and why leaves change color, and make beautiful autumn leaf suncatchers to take home. (families, registration required)

Teens can spend an Saw-whet Owl Banding evening at Drumlin Farm as we track the migration of the Northeast’s smallest native owl. (teens, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Witness the Great Duck Migration at Ipswich River. Hike down to Bunker Meadows and climb the observation tower to observe the magnificent spectacle of ducks coming in to roost. (adults and children ages 5+, registration required)

Visit the Banding Station in Newburyport to watch scientists capture, evaluate, and release migrant songbirds while you learn about migration and habitat use. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

South of Boston

Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary comes alive at night for Spooktacular. While walking through pumpkin-lit trails “meet” forest inhabitants who will share the history of the sanctuary through fun skits and stories. (adults and children, registration required)

Head to Tidmarsh in Plymouth for Sunsets, Snacks, and Coyotes. Take a sunset stroll to our overlook to enjoy a lively presentation about some of the sanctuary’s wonderful wildlife.

Try Outdoor Baking with Native Fruits at North River in Marshfield. Create several treats using the ancient art of fire building, including the bow and drill method of starting a fire. (adults, registration required)

More 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)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

Central Massachusetts

Head to Wachusett Meadow in Princeton to connect with your breath, body, mind, and nature during Yoga at the Sanctuary. This class is appropriate for all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners, as several options/modifications will be given for each pose. (adults, registration required)

Investigate the hidden world of Fabulous Fall Fungi at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. Get tips on how to recognize fungi and learn about their role in ecosystems. (adults registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Celebrate the wonders of nature with walks, stories, live animals, crafts, and games — all part of the Nature Festival at Laughing Brook in Hampden.

Experience an unusual ecosystem with Hawley Bog in the Fall. This pristine peatland contains all three types of carnivorous plants that are found in Massachusetts: sundew, pitcher plant, and bladderwort. (adult, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Relax into the beauty of the woods, waters, and trails of Pleasant Valley in Lenox while Nature Journaling. Guided writing and sketching deepens observations and expands creativity. (adults, registration required)
More in the Berkshires<

A Closer Look at New Climate Report

A new special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is waving a red flag on the effects of climate change. This report, written by over 90 scientists from 40 countries, warns that we need to make large-scale and rapid changes.

Scientists say we must limit average global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C (2.7°F). This temperature increase is considered the “tipping point” for many of the most severe threats posed by climate change. It is also an ambitious target given our current rising temperatures.

So far, average global temperatures have warmed about 1°C (1.8°F) since pre-industrial times (the second half of the 19th Century). According to the IPCC, without accelerated action, the planet will reach the 1.5°C threshold as early as 2030. This temperature increase would escalate the risk of extreme drought, floods, wildfires, and food shortages, impacting tens of millions of people.

Small Change, Big Impact

While half a degree difference might not sound like much, that shift will have devastating effects on our plants and animals, coral reefs, Arctic summer sea ice, and water availability. Every bit of warming matters, with higher temperature changes leading to increased risk of long-lasting or irreversible changes.

The warning is clear, but we still have a chance to put into place the “disruptive innovation” needed to change course if we act now.

You Can Be Part of the Solution

Global climate change must be addressed through both effective state and federal policy and our own individual actions. By reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and switching to clean, renewable energy sources, we can mitigate the worst effects of climate change before it is too late.

Our personal choices in areas like home energy use, travel methods, altering our diet to be less reliant on land- and energy-intensive animal products, and developing smart, green infrastructure throughout our communities can all contribute to a global shift in the right direction.

Here are a few ways you can make a difference:

There will also be an opportunity soon to oppose recent federal proposals to weaken emissions standards for methane—we’ll keep you posted!

— Alexandra Vecchio, Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Program Coordinator

© Ken Conway

Take 5: Fall Color

All across Massachusetts, the landscape is lighting up with the brilliant colors of fall foliage. Accordingly, we are sharing five photos of stunning autumnal color from past entries to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2018 photo contest is now closed, but stay tuned for updates as we sort through the thousands of entries to find the next batch of big winners!

To help you get even more in the seasonal spirit, check out our guide to the Top 10 Fall Foliage Hikes at Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries, get tips for taking great fall foliage shots from some of our top photography program leaders, and find a list of their upcoming fall foliage photography workshops in our program catalog.

Happy leaf-peeping!

© Ken Conway

© Ken Conway

© David Ennis

© David Ennis

© Eric Luth

© Eric Luth

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary © Christine Lockhead

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary © Christine Lockhead

© Michael Rossacci

© Michael Rossacci

What To Do This Weekend: October 6-7

Attend a Fall Fair, go paddling, take a hike, learn photography, witness fall migration, track box turtles, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Plymouth

Greater Boston

Head to Stony Brook’s Fall Fair & Wood Duck Derby in Norfolk for the local artisans, music, and crafts. And adopt a duck for a chance to win great prizes—whether you can make it to the fair or not!

During The Mighty Monarch at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton, learn about the exciting ways in which monarch butterflies migrate. Start with a story, look through digital microscope to examine monarch butterflies up close, create a butterfly using air-dry clay, then go on a short nature hike. (families, registration required)

Enjoy the fall sights on a 6.5-mile Hike from Stonehurst to Habitat in Belmont. (adults, registration required)

Celebrate the fall harvest by creating your own carved pumpkin, playing pumpkin games, and enjoying some fine fall food as part of Pumpkinfest at Boston Nature Center. Learn about the history of pumpkins and the Jack-O-Lantern story.

Go on a Fall Foliage Canoe down one of the most beautiful stretches of the Charles River with Broadmoor. Start from the Medfield marshes, enjoy the many colors along the bank and the smell of wild grapes. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Take in Fall Migration at Tidmarsh in Plymouth and observe the many migrants embarking on one of nature’s greatest journeys! Birders of all abilities and levels welcome. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

Explore the different habitats at Oak Knoll in Attleboro during a Family Day.  Look for interesting animals, plants, and see what has visited the sanctuary. (all ages, registration required)

More South of Boston

Cape Cod and Islands

Learn how to become a citizen scientist during Box Turtle Tracking at Wellfleet Bay. Discover our box turtle monitoring and research practices in an indoor presentation then go on an active excursion to track box turtles. (adults and children ages 8+, registration required)

Gathering Color: A Natural Dye Workshop at Long Pasture in Barnstable teaches the basics of dyeing with traditional raw, natural dyestuffs from ancient times. You will leave class with enough naturally dyed yarn for a small project. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

North Shore

It’s Family Day at the Joppa Flats Bird Banding Station on the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. See Mass Audubon scientists capture, evaluate, and release migrant songbirds while you learn about migration and habitat use. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Go on 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

Take a Fall Foliage Photography Hike at Laughing Brook in Hampden to learning about natural history, land use, and tips and tricks for capturing and creating beautiful nature photographs. (adults, registration required)

During the Art Trail Walk for Families at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton stop at 7 stations, each with fun and family-friendly activities for you to gain a better eye for observing nature through art skills.  (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Go Canoeing on the Housatonic River in Lenox, looking for swallows, herons, kingfishers, muskrats, and signs of beavers along the way. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Goldenrod © Katharine Randel

Take 5: Glorious Goldenrod

Ah…ah…AH…CHOO! Feeling a bit sneezy these days? Well, we’re here to clear the air—goldenrod is not to blame for your seasonal allergy woes. This bright, ubiquitous, late-flowering plant has been framed by the real culprit, ragweed, which blooms around the same time and often nearby. Ragweed’s light, dusty pollen is easily carried on the wind to hay-feverish noses but goldenrod’s pollen is much too heavy, making the latter all the more appealing for pollinators!

There are at least 15 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars that feed on the leaves and stems of goldenrods and the many species of insects that can be found on goldenrods, pollinating the flowers or feeding on their leaves and nectar, are far too numerous to count! Research from Cornell University suggests that Monarch butterflies actually face their greatest food shortage in the fall as they are migrating south, usually along the coast; so while milkweed is the primary food source for Monarch caterpillars, the adult butterflies rely on nectar from wildflowers such as goldenrod to fuel them on their long journey.

So before you go pulling goldenrods out of your yard or garden as a nuisance weed, give them a second chance. You might just be reward by a visit from some hungry butterflies. Here are five beautiful photos of goldenrod from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest entries. The 2018 contest is now closed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some gorgeous photography year-round!

Read and print out our By the Numbers: Goldenrod and learn how to plant a native pollinator garden in your backyard on our website.

Tri-colored Bumblebee on Goldenrod © Ellen Pierce

Tri-colored Bumblebee on Goldenrod © Ellen Pierce

Orange Sulphur on Goldenrod © Richard Welch

Orange Sulphur on Goldenrod © Richard Welch

Monarch Butterfly and Goldenrod © Kim Caruso

Monarch Butterfly and Goldenrod © Kim Caruso

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod © Karen Lund

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod © Karen Lund

Goldenrod © Katharine Randel

Goldenrod © Katharine Randel

Berkshires Hiking View

What To Do This Weekend: Sept 29-30

Attend a music festival, climb a mountain, learn how to preserve veggies, go on a mindfulness walk and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend. And don’t forget to enter the Photo Contest—the deadline is this Sunday!

Berkshires Hiking View

See great views as part of the Berkshires Hiking Series.

Berkshires

Climb Lenox Mountain with an experienced guide to enjoy several vistas, all part of the Berkshires Hiking Series. This hike is a three-mile round-trip trek through northern hardwood and hemlock forest for an elevation gain of 840 feet. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Connecticut River Valley

Attend the very first Arcadia Folk Fest, an outdoor, all day family-friendly music festival that brings the community together around music in the heart of the Pioneer Valley. (adults and children, tickets required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Central Massachusetts

Explore the question, “How do I fit into the big circle of life?” through an Eco-Art Workshop at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton that incorporates elements of mindfulness, introspective writing, natural-object exploration, and art. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

Go on an Autumn Forest Bathing Walk at Ipswich River in Topsfield to reconnect with the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of nature. Finish our walk with time for reflection and a relaxing cup of tea.

Celebrate the launch of Cheeky and Charlemagne, the latest children’s novel by local author Donna Seim (Newbury) and illustrator Susan Spellman (Newburyport) at Joppa Flats’ Fall Family Open House. Enjoy a day full of free family activities, including games, movies, handouts, snacks, autographed books, and more.

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Go on a Fall Foliage Canoe down one of the most beautiful stretches of the Charles River with Broadmoor. Start from the Medfield marshes, enjoy the many colors along the bank and the smell of wild grapes. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Learn the art of Pickling and Canning at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Practice simple, time-honored, and delicious methods for preserving the bounty of summer produce and go home with samples and recipes to share and inspire your preserving efforts. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Boston Nature Center is hosting their annual Rockin’ with Raptors festival. Get up-close with animals, build birdhouses, enjoy family-friendly entertainment, and eat delicious food.

Go on a Morning Bird Walk at Habitat in Belmont. Enjoy a gentle stroll through the sanctuary as we look for signs of change as winter approaches. (adults and children)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

Monarch Tagging at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth will give you a closer look at these delicate creatures and their migratory patterns. (adults and children ages 5+, registration required)

Wondering what is birding exactly and how can you tell different types of birds apart? During Birding for Beginners at Oak Knoll in Attleboro find out how to bird and why birding is a fun hobby for everyone. (adults and children ages 5+, registration required)

More 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)

Spend a gentle morning of birding and learning about our conservation activities on the beautiful island of Nantucket as part of Birds, Breakfast, and Conservation. (rsvp required, adults and children ages 12+)

More on Cape Cod and Islands