Author Archives: Hillary T.

About Hillary T.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln Who: Massachusetts transplant by way of Florida and New York. Raising two young girls, who she hopes will be budding naturalists Favorite part of the job: Learning something new every day from some of the smartest and most enthusiastic groups of people

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)

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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)

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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)

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Central Massachusetts

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

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A Greener Way to Fly

Reducing or avoiding air travel is one of the most effective steps we can take as individuals to combat climate change. But, it’s not the most realistic proposition for many of us.

Through a new initiative called Jet-Set Offset, when you can’t reduce air travel, you can mitigate the impact of carbon emissions from flying by contributing to organizations like Mass Audubon working to reduce carbon emissions in other ways.

Here’s How it Works

You sign up at Jet-set Offset via email and select Mass Audubon as your favorite environmental cause.

Then, every time you fly, you will automatically donate one cent per mile to Mass Audubon. Why one cent per mile? It’s an average estimate of the cost to offset carbon emissions from individual air travel based on multiple carbon calculators.

Why Choose Mass Audubon

By partnering with us, Jet Set Off-Set participants will respond to a changing climate through our work:

Advocacy – Mass Audubon fights for legislation and funding that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps communities adapt to the inevitable challenges of a changing climate.

Education – By teaching people of all ages about climate change, we inspire them to take direct action and combat climate change in their homes, schools, and communities. We also host Climate Cafes and Youth Climate Summits to convene people around this urgent issue.

Conservation – Scientific research helps determine how climate change affects the most vulnerable and endangered birds, amphibians, and mammals. With this research, we protect the land and habitats – and wildlife corridors – those animals need to thrive.

Learn more and read the FAQs >

loving our local outdoors in partnership with REI

Shop at REI and Support Mass Audubon

REI is awarding grant money to three local nonprofits, including Mass Audubon! But how much we get depends on you.

If you’re an REI member, shop at one of their stores in Massachusetts or Cranston, RI, now through April 8 to cast your vote for us!

The money we receive will go toward building universally accessible trails at our Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in South Dartmouth and Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick so everyone can get out and enjoy nature.

© Sarah O'Connor

An Alternative Spring Break

While some college kids will be heading to the beach during Spring Break, Mass Audubon has teamed up with UMass Boston to offer its conservation-minded students another option.

During the first-ever Alternative Spring Break for Aspiring Environmental Leaders, an idea hatched by TerraCorps member Sam Kefferstan, six students will spend six days getting a “crash course” in Mass Audubon, including our work in conservation science and research, advocacy and community engagement, and education.

© Sarah O’Connor

UMass Boston Connection

UMass Boston’s student population reflects the remarkable diversity of its Boston surrounds, with 57% of the student body being students of color and 56% first generation college students. As part of our commitment to becoming more inclusive and equitable, Mass Audubon partnered with UMass Boston to develop the Environmental Career Pathways Program. As part of this program, Mass Audubon will recruit students to employ in a variety of internships, work-study placements, and summer jobs.

The Alternative Spring Break is just another option to give students exposure to the environmental field through hands-on programming where they will actively participate in on-going conservation projects. This program will also provide professional development and networking to students who may not be able to take summer conservation internships due to financial barriers.

The Itinerary

First up is Nantucket where students will conduct deer density monitoring research at Sesachacha Heathlands Wildlife Sanctuary and water quality monitoring at UMass Boston’s field station.

Following the time on Nantucket the group will head to Drumlin Farm and Mass Audubon’s Headquarters in Lincoln, where students will meet with Mass Audubon’s leadership to determine where their skillset and passions could best be utilized.

Last stop is Wildwood, Mass Audubon’s overnight camp in Rindge, New Hampshire. Here, the students will participate in a Leave No Trace trainer course, in which they’ll learn how to enjoy shared natural spaces while preserving their integrity for future generations as well. The course will conclude with a winter hike up nearby Mount Monadnock where students can put their new skills into action.

The Payoff

Sam’s hope (as well as Mass Audubon’s) is that the students who participate in the Alternative Spring Break will come out of this program as more confident, experienced, and qualified job candidates, leaving them better prepared for future careers in conservation.

What To Do This Weekend: March 9-10

Enjoy a pancake breakfast, learn about maple sugaring, go on a calming nature walk, look for winter birds, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Sap to Syrup Breakfast at Drumlin Farm

Greater Boston

Head to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln for their annual Sap to Syrup Breakfast on Saturday or Sunday. Enjoy a breakfast of hearty pancakes with real maple syrup and then see how the syrup gets made! (adults and children, registration required)

Tap, collect, and boil down sap from the maple trees during Maple Sugaring at Boston Nature Center. Enjoy a tasty maple treat as well! (adults and children, registration required)

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Central Massachusetts

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

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North Shore

Attend a Sugaring Off Tour on Saturday or Sunday at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Observe tapping and sap collection methods, watch the sap being boiled down in the sugarhouse, and get a sweet taste of the final product. (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

South of Boston

Look for Winter Ducks at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth as you hike along the beach loop trail. (adults, registration required)

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Cape Cod

Now in its 24th year, the annual Cape Cod Natural History Conference features speakers from environmental organizations across Cape Cod discussing a wide array of natural history topics. (adults, registration required)

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Destination Spotlight: Armenia

Located in the mountainous Caucasus region bordering Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran, Armenia has everything you may want in an exotic trip: history, culture, food, and birds. And this September, you can join Mass Audubon naturalist Amber Carr on a 15-day adventure. Here, a snapshot of what you could experience:

Rich History

Armenia has an ancient and complex history. Among the earliest Christian civilizations, it’s rich with historic and religious sites including Khor Virap Monastery (a pilgrimage site near Mount Ararat) and a dormant volcano just across the border in Turkey.

Among the sites you will see is Selim Caravanserai. Built in 1332 by Prince Chesar Orbelian to accommodate travelers between China and Europe, it’s one of the few artifacts left from the Silk Road.

Birds!

Bearded Vulture © Francesco Veronesi

Armenia’s country list includes 349 species of birds. Armenia lies on the main migration route between the Northern and Southern hemisphere, with species flying from as far away as South Africa.

So many of the great birding spots are near historic sites that date as far back as the 8th century BC: you’re likely see raptors near Geghard Monastery (a UNESCO world heritage site) and various species of larks near the Selim Caravanserai. Highlights include: Pied Avocet, Squacco Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Bearded Reedling, Long-legged Buzzard, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, and Bearded Vulture (aka Lammergeier).

A Varied and Stunning Landscape

© Clay Gilliland

Visit a semi-desert gorge occupied by a colony of Eurasian Griffons; a 500 year old juniper woodland that is home to birds such as Sombre Tit and Fire-fronted Serin; a spectacular canyon of the Azat River where cliffs are formed by basalt columns and called the “Symphony of Stones;” and drive to the highest elevations to see Alpine Accentor and Cinereous Vulture.

Food & Drink

Every day you will taste the delicious fruits grown in Armenia, including grapes, figs, pomegranates, apricots, and apples, as well as vegetables, nuts, and locally produced honey.

A variety of meat dishes as well as breads such as lavash (a thin flatbread) will fill your dinner table. Plus see how Armenian Brandy (the favorite drink of Winston Churchill) is made. You will also learn how Armenian wine is made in Areni, where the tradition dates back 6,100 years.

Adventure!

On her last visit to Armenia, Mass Audubon Council Member and frequent traveler Roxanne Etmekjian recalls one excursion that was so awe-inspiring that it was added to our tour’s itinerary. Waking up pre-dawn, you will head up the alpine mountain of Gndasar in a 4X4 to look for the elusive Caspian Snowcock in the early morning light.

View the full itinerary or contact Mass Audubon’s Travel Team to learn more.

What To Do This Weekend: March 2-3

Go maple sugaring, attend the Birders Meeting, learn how to raise chickens, go birding, look for animal tracks, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Greater Boston

Get a Behind the Scenes Look at Maple Sugaring at Moose Hill in Sharon Friday night. Try maple syrup, Mead made with our own honey and maple syrup, see our reverse osmosis machine, and get an up close tour of the evaporator in action. (adults, registration required)

As part of Magnificent Mysterious Mammals at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton, have a close encounter mysterious and sometimes misunderstood resident mammals, the Striped Skunk. There will also be a story and a craft. (families, registration required)

Find out how to raise Backyard Chickens at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Topics covered in this hands-on workshop include feeding, checking for egg laying, and any other chicken questions that come up. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Winter is a great time to look for signs of animals as they forage for food and shelter at Broadmoor in Natick. During an Adult and Family program, learn to identify the tracks, chews, scat, burrows and other clues left by many creatures including deer, otter, and coyote.

Go Backyard Birding at Boston Nature Center. Learn how to use binoculars, go on a bird hike, and create some seed and fruit art for the birds to enjoy. (families, registration required)

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Central Massachusetts

The Birders Meeting is this Sunday in Worcester and the theme is The Beauty of Birds. Among the speakers: Pulitzer Prize-nominated evolutionary biologist and ornithologist Richard Prum. (registration required)

Go on a Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester to discover the immense variety of birdlife as you explore its trails with an expert guide. (adults, registration required)

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

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North Shore

Attend a Sugaring Off Tour on Saturday or Sunday at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Observe tapping and sap collection methods, watch the sap being boiled down in the sugarhouse, and get a sweet taste of the final product. (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

Connecticut River Valley

Get an Ecological Update at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton to find out what Mass Audubon is doing to protect habitat and how local wildlife populations are affected by our efforts. (adults, registration required)

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South of Boston

Head to Oak Knoll for a Family Habitat Day and explore the different habitats found around the sanctuary. Look for interesting animals, plants, and see what has visited the sanctuary. (families, registration required)

Discover the beauty of tree Buds and Bark in the Winter. Guided by local experts learn to identify local trees by their winter characteristics. (adults, registration required)

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Meet the TerraCorps Crew

This year, Mass Audubon has been fortunate to welcome four members of TerraCorps to our team. TerraCorps partners with AmeriCorps to pair emerging leaders with land-based organizations in Massachusetts. The TerraCorps service members gain valuable, real-world experience, and Mass Audubon benefits from their energy, enthusiasm, ideas, and hard work.

Say “hello” to the team and read a little bit about what they are working on.

Nick Tepper

Hometown: Stow, MA
College: B.S. in Wildlife Biology from University of Vermont
Interests: Birding, reading, photography, canoeing, and breakfast food.
Working on: Creating an iNaturalist platform for Mass Audubon, estimating deer density via a citizen science camera trapping effort at Moose Hill, normalizing amphibian cover-board monitoring throughout the sanctuaries, and pioneering a window strike initiative for Boston.
Hopes for the position: Hope to make connections, and get experience in my field.
What’s next: Travel to see more of the US/world, and eventually go to grad school

Sam Kefferstan

Hometown: Andover, MA
College: B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation & B.A. in Sociology from UMass Amherst
Interests: Backpacking, fishing, baking, and photography
Working on: Incorporating best practices to facilitate diversity and inclusion at Mass Audubon, leading an Alternative Spring Break program for UMass Boston students, volunteer coordination for sugaring at Moose Hill, developing a boundary monitoring protocol for Mass Audubon sanctuaries, and pioneering a window strike initiative for Boston.
Hopes for the position: Professional networking and exposure to ecological restoration/dam removal efforts in Massachusetts.
What’s next: I would love to live out West for a few years and then serve in the PeaceCorps somewhere in South America.

Sara Semenza

Hometown: Tewksbury, MA
College: University of Rhode Island College: University of Rhode Island
Interests: Spending time outside, birding, running, playing and watching sports
Working on: Helping to standardize Mass Audubon’s nest box data collection,  updating Salt Marsh Science Project data and web content, analyzing losing ground satellite imagery providing by Boston University, and pioneering a window strike initiative for Boston.
Hopes for the position: Gaining real-life experience, setting up a study design, collecting data, and networking. I hope to continue meeting new people and expanding my knowledge of nature and conservation. I am not taking anything for granted and trying to make the most out of my experience here.
What’s next: Work for a couple of years to continue to gain experience. Then go back to school to get my masters, maybe in California. Then head home to New England.

Nicole Wilhelmi

Hometown: Grafton, MA
College: Becker College
Interests: Travel, hiking, and photography
Working on: Nature Lovers Trivia Night at Central Sanctuaries, Climate Cafe, Butterfly upcycle art project.
Hopes for the position: To make an impact to my community.
What’s next: Continue my contribution within another local nonprofit.

What To Do This Weekend: February 23-24

Go for a nature walk, build a nestbox, look for tracks, learn how to work with wool, tap a maple tree, attend a climate cafe, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Eastern Bluerbird

Berkshires

During the hands-on Build a Bluebird Nestbox Workshop at Pleasant Valley in Lenox get crafty while finding out where and how to place the boxes in ideal habitats. (adults and children, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

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

Central Massachusetts

Learn to identify Wildlife Tracks at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton. Get techniques and track and trail patterns while exploring the sanctuary’s diverse habitats. (families, registration required)

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North Shore

The theme of this week’s Sunday Morning Science at Joppa Flats in Newburyport is Papermaking & Nature Journals. Meet live creatures and design something “green.” (children ages 7-11, registration required)

Focus on Seabirds on Cape Ann. Look for many species of sea ducks, loons, grebes, and gulls as they feed and seek shelter in the cape’s many coves, inlets, and protected harbors. (adults, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

During the Wonders of Wool class at Drumlin Farm, get familiar with basic needle felting tools and techniques. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you catch on as you create and personalize a felted creation of your own! (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Celebrate Maple Sugaring at Boston Nature Center. Tap, collect, and boil down sap from the Maple trees found at the sanctuary. Enjoy a tasty maple treat as well! (adults and children, registration required)

Head to the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton to view works from young artists, part of the juried Taking Flight Exhibition.

Have fun with Animal Footprints at Broadmoor in Natick by looking for tracks and signs of otters, rabbits, deer, coyote and many other animals. (families, registration required)

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South of Boston

Attend a free Climate Cafe in Middleborough for an informal conversation on climate change and renewable energy sources . Enjoy some drinks and snacks, share your ideas, engage with your fellow community members, and learn how to how to take action! (adults and children, registration required)

Go Birding by Van with a Tutor in Marshfield. Learn the basics to set you up for a lifetime of birding adventures! (adults, registration required)

Enjoy a Family Adventure Day at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. We may read a story, make a craft, or sing songs but we will always explore the outdoors and have fun! (families, registration required)

More in South of Boston

Red Fox Pups © Janet MacCausland

What To Do This Weekend: Feb 16-17

Look for wildlife after dark, go on a nature walk, learn about animal tracks, see a nature documentary, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Red Fox Pups © Janet MacCausland
Red Fox Pups © Janet MacCausland

Greater Boston

Head to Broadmoor in Natick for a Full Moon Family Owl Prowl to search and listen for our resident Screech, Barred and Great Horned Owls. (families, registration required)

Travel with Trailside Director and raptor researcher Norman Smith to several Massachusetts locations in search of Winter Raptors. (adults, registration required)

Take a Naturalist Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to explore the sanctuary’s different habitats. (adults and children ages 12+)

Go on a Winter Nature Walk at Boston Nature Center to observe the tracks left by animals and spot birds in their wintering plumage. (families, registration required)

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South of Boston

Once dusk has settled take a Snow Moon Hike at Tidmarsh in Plymouth. Stop, look, and listen for creatures that awaken with the setting of the sun. (adults and children ages 10+, registration required)

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Cape Cod

Watch the PBS Nature film Fox Tales In Wellfleet for an intimate views of red foxes’ lives–from inside a den with fox kits; young foxes wrestling for dominance; and even the view from inside a garbage can as a fox makes a raid. (tickets required)

More on the Cape & Islands

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)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

During the Nature of Your Backyard at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester, meet some common animals such as a fisher, skunk, turtle, fox, or even a flying squirrel. (families, registration required)

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Connecticut River Valley

Go on a Winter Nature Walk for Families at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton to look for animal tracks and signs and play a few games to learn about winter wildlife survival. (families, registration required)

During Tracking and Animal Signs at Laughing Brook in Hampden learn to read the tracks and signs left by animals that live in our area. (families, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley

Berkshires

Strap on snowshoes (or microspikes, depending upon conditions) and enjoy a Snowshoe Hike at Pleasant Valley in Lenox. Track wildlife and watch for animal activity around ponds, streams, meadows, and woodlands. (adults, registration required)

More in the Berkshires