Author Archives: Kaylin D.

Birders in a grassy field looking off in the distance.

How to Make the Most of the 40th Anniversary of Bird-a-thon   

Bird-a-thon is Mass Audubon’s largest annual fundraising event, and this year is the 40th anniversary. Birders from across the state join teams to fundraise and take part in competitions, programs, and more as a celebration of spring. The event this May will be over Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13. Join a team and join the fun! 

Competitive Birding

A group of birders in a meadow looking off into the distance at the trees.

The highlight of Bird-a-thon for many is the birding competition that takes place over 24 hours from 6 pm on Friday, May 12, to 6 pm on Saturday May 13. Over the course of the day, 13 teams compete against one another to see who can spot the most species of birds. At the conclusion of the 24 hours awards are given out to teams for spotting the most birds overall, the most from one stationary location, and to the team who spots the highest percentage of birds possibly spotted within a given county, amongst other awards.  

To learn more about competitive birding during Bird-a-thon and to explore joining a team check out the 2023 Bird-a-thon page.  

Nature Activity Points 

Two American Goldfinches standing at a bird feeder.
American Goldfinch

If you are not interested in competitive birding but are still craving competition Bird-a-thon weekend, join a team and take part in earning nature activity points. These points are separate from the points that those taking part in competitive birding earn, and the two teams that amass the most nature activity points will earn an award.  

Activity points can be earned in a variety of ways, from sharing a picture of a bird you spotted on social media to drawing a picture of a bird to filling up your birdfeeder. Points can also be earned by completing fun activity sheets created just for Bird-a-thon! These include a bird word search, nature coloring pages, a scavenger hunt, a bird match-up quiz, and more. To explore all the nature activities and access the downloadable activity worksheets, check out the Bird-a-thon 2023 Nature Activity Points Page! 

Take a Program

Yellow bird in the trees with white flowers.
Yellow Warbler © Anthony Lischio

Connect with nature and expand your knowledge of the birds of Massachusetts on a birding program. Start your weekend off with a Spring Bird Walk at Boston Nature Center in Mattapan on Friday evening, May 12, focused on spring migratory birds that reside in urban habitats.  

Visit Moose Hill in Sharon on Saturday morning, May 13, to soak in the early morning sun as you walk the trails during peak warbler migration and identify birds by sight and sound with the help of a naturalist. 

 And spend your Saturday evening at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton learning how to Bird By Ear on a walk led by former artist-in-residence at Mass Audubon, Barry Van Dusen.

Visit a Wildlife Sanctuary  

Green field full vegetation with green trees in the distance.

May in Massachusetts is the perfect time to get outside and explore. If you are not interested in nature activity points or programs, spend the day visiting one of Mass Audubon’s more than 60 sanctuaries around the state for a hike and to look for birds and other wildlife. 

For beautiful coastal views, a chance to walk on the beach, and to spot coastal birds, visit Allens Pond in South Dartmouth or Long Pasture in Barnstable. If you are looking for idyllic meadows with the chance to see farm animals and birds that frequent meadow habitats, visit Wachusett Meadow in Princeton or Drumlin Farm in Lincoln.  

And if you are in search of a more rugged hike with trails that will take you through woodlands as you look and listen for forest birds, take a trip to Moose Hill in Sharon or Pleasant Valley in Lenox.  

Mass Audubon store front

History, Culture, and Nature: Four Books to Add to Your Bookshelf

Expand your book collection with four empowering nature-based books that highlight different cultural, scientific, and personal relationships with the outdoors. From Indigenous plant botany to reclaiming the joy of nature from the roots of forced labor, here are four books to broaden your nature connection and knowledge. 

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer 

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a New York Times best-selling author, scientist, professor, mother, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer weaves together centuries-old Indigenous knowledge and western science, pinpointing ways to learn from plants and wildlife. Discover how we can reestablish and support a reciprocal relationship with the natural world in this captivating read.

“There is such a tenderness in braiding the hair of someone you love…When we braid sweetgrass, we are braiding the hair of Mother Earth, showing her our loving attention, our care for her beauty and well-being, in gratitude for all she has given us.” 

– Robin Kimmer, Braiding Sweetgrass 

The Mass Audubon Shop also sells a young adult version of Braiding Sweetgrass

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by Drew Lanham 

Drew Lanham, esteemed ornithologist, professor, and writer, shines a light on the complexity of being Black and enjoying nature on the same land his ancestors were forced into labor. In this memoir, Lanham dives into what it is like working in a historically white field, living in rural, southern United States, and finding freedom in nature.

“I am as much a scientist as I am a black man; my skin defines me no more than my heart does. But somehow my color often casts my love affair with nature in the shadows.”  

– Drew Lanham, The Home Place: Memories of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature

Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science by Jessica Hernandez 

Indigenous communities are among the most affected by climate change, even though many Indigenous peoples have long practiced sustainable and holistic management practices. Environmental scientist Jessica Hernandez pulls from her El Salvadorian and Mexican Indigenous heritage to dissect the issues of western environmental conservation and highlight the depth of Indigenous science.

“I hope this book can help Indigenous scholars, community members, and our relatives see themselves as scientists. I believe every Indigenous person carries their own scientific knowledge; for some of us it just means that we have to reclaim our knowledge that has been lost because of settler colonialism and how it impacted us individually.” 

– Jessica Hernandez, Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science 

The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World, edited by Alison Hawthorne Deming & Lauret Savoy 

This collection of essays features over 30 authors of color who share their relationship with nature through a cultural lens. Adding a new perspective to environmental literature, The Colors of Nature explores the lasting impact of the natural world and different cultural identities.

“Today I feel a sense of liberation…Despite the dark energy that still must pervade Manzanar’s [Japanese American Internment Camp] ruins, I feel only lightness as we drive past on the highway.” (Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Crossing Boundaries) 

– Edited by Alison H. Deming and Lauret E. Savoy, The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World