Author Archives: Kaylin D.

A man in a white button-down shirt with a sight stick and sunglasses, holding one hand onto the elbow of a woman with a blue shirt. They are walking in the woods.

Bird-a-thon for All

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mass Audubon’s annual fundraiser and birding competition, Bird-a-thon. During Bird-a-thon, teams of birders work to identify the most species of birds over a 24-hour period, beginning Friday, May 12 at 6pm and ending Saturday, May 13 at 6pm.

This year, as part of the suite of exciting programing that Mass Audubon educators are offering for Bird-a-thon, you can also experience accessible birding programs across the state.

Birding on Accessible Trails

A man in a white button-down shirt with a sight stick and sunglasses, holding one hand onto the elbow of a woman with a blue shirt. They are walking in the woods.

On Saturday, May 13, join the staff from Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary at the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge in Hadley to bird along the one-mile accessible trail, composed of crushed stone and boardwalks, with seating located every 200 feet.

Later in the day, at Tidmarsh in Plymouth, join naturalists as they bird on the approximately one mile long flat and even crushed stone and boardwalk on Mass Audubon’s newest All Persons Trail.

Want to bird on your own? Our sensory-rich All Persons Trails located at 15 wildlife sanctuaries across the state invite visitors of all abilities to explore nature on wide, even paths of crushed gravel, or boardwalk.

Birding by Ear

Yellow and black bird standing on a stick.
Magnolia Warbler © Jim Sonia

You don’t have to see a bird for it to count for Bird-a-thon – hearing one also counts!

Saturday morning, head to Cedar Pond in Wenham to join the North Shore’s Big Sit, which will be focused on identifying birds by ear with the guidance of Mass Audubon Program Ornithologist, Sarah Courchesne.

Saturday afternoon, join Mass Audubon’s former artist-in-residence, Barry Van Dusen, at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton for a bird walk where you will learn to bird by ear. By focusing on identifying birdsong, you will unlock the potential to identify many more species of birds and practice an extremely useful birding skill.

These Birding by Ear programs are open to anyone, and they are designed to be especially helpful to birdwatchers who may have limited vision.

Birding in Place

An older white man and woman sitting on a bench in the woods. Both are looking up with the woman pointing at something in the trees above.

Accessible birding in place programs, like the previously mentioned North Shore Big Sit, will be happening across the state as teams vie for the Sitting Duck Award. On Friday evening join a birding in place program at Arcadia in Easthampton. Saturday morning, grab your coffee or tea and join an accessible birding in place programming happening at Felix Neck in Edgartown, Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester, Allens Pond in Dartmouth, Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, or Wellfleet Bay in South Wellfleet.

Birding by Bus

If mobility is a challenge, travel by bus for a unique, accessible, urban birding experience in Worcester on Saturday. Join natural history guide and birding instructor, Sheryl Pereira, on the WRTA bus departing from Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester and spend the day visiting birding hotspots around the city!

Large wind turbines in the ocean.

News: Massachusetts Releases Historic Request for Offshore Wind Proposals

Exciting news: Massachusetts has just requested proposals for new offshore wind turbine developments that could produce up to 25% of our state’s electricity. Wind energy developers will now be able to submit proposals to build large arrays of wind turbines in the waters off of the Massachusetts Coast.  

Most importantly, these proposals include requirements for developers to monitor and mitigate the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife and to build the most efficient system of transmission lines possible—both crucial measures for the protection of nature. 

Mass Audubon enthusiastically supports offshore wind energy projects, but these developments must, and can, be built with an ironclad commitment to protecting nature and biodiversity.

Large wind turbines in the ocean.
Flickr © Andy Dingley

Climate Change and Massachusetts Wildlife 

Climate change is by far the greatest threat to the birds and wildlife of Massachusetts. It causes sea level rise and stronger ocean storms which wreak havoc on coastal bird habitats, drowning out nesting and foraging areas for species such as the federally protected Roseate Tern and Piping Plover. Warmer temperatures also alter the length of seasons, interrupting traditional migration patterns. All the birds, wildlife, and coastal ecosystems we cherish in Massachusetts are directly threatened by climate change. 

To slow the progress of climate change, Massachusetts must shift its energy system away from the fossil fuels that are emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The state has a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2025. It simply won’t be possible to reach that goal without large-scale wind energy development. 

Wind energy projects—and especially offshore wind energy projects that take advantage of higher-speed ocean wind—are among the most cost-effective clean energy sources we have available. A few large-scale wind developments off our coast could power a quarter of the state. No other energy technology offers that kind of scale.

Mass Audubon’s Advocacy for Wildlife-Friendly Wind Development 

While Massachusetts needs offshore wind energy to help slow the climate crisis that is destroying our nature and wildlife, these developments must not come at the expense of our birds and wildlife. 

Compared to previous wind energy proposals in Massachusetts, the state’s latest proposal includes stronger requirements for wind developers to monitor and mitigate any harm to nature and wildlife that their projects cause.  

Additionally, we applaud the Commonwealth’s commitment to planning an efficient system of transmission lines connecting wind developments to the power grid. New transmission lines often impact forests and other habitats and can harm nearby birds and wildlife, so we must work to build new clean energy infrastructure with as light a footprint as possible.  

Both of these conservation provisions reflect Mass Audubon’s advocacy in action over the last several years. 

Our wildlife experts help monitor the impacts of wind energy development and are a critical voice on the state’s habitat advisory group. We will work to ensure that wind energy developers continue engaging with this group to make their projects as wildlife-friendly as possible. We’ll also continue to push for developers to provide the full funding needed to conduct wildlife monitoring and mitigation.  

The choice before us is not whether to pursue offshore wind or protect our iconic wildlife. We must do both. We’re optimistic that Massachusetts is up to the task.

How You Can Help Us Advocate for Wildlife-Friendly Wind Energy  

Learn more about our advocacy for responsible wind energy development

To get involved in the fight for responsible wind energy development, become a Climate Champion