Author Archives: Ryan D.

About Ryan D.

Where: Mass Audubon Headquarters, Lincoln | Who: A Vermont expat with maple sap in her veins | Favorite part of the job: Exploring sanctuaries with camera in hand.

White-breasted Nuthatch © Jorge Tavares

Take 5: Upside-Down

This week, we’re taking a look at things from a different perspective…upside-down! In-flight or on foot, these birds are turning things around with either their flexibility or aerial acrobatics on display. Enjoy these five photos from past submissions to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest (now closed for 2019), but don’t crane your neck in the process. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Red-tailed Hawk © Donald Arthur
Red-tailed Hawk © Donald Arthur
White-breasted Nuthatch © Jorge Tavares
White-breasted Nuthatch © Jorge Tavares
Black-capped Chickadee © Kim Caruso
Black-capped Chickadee © Kim Caruso
Peregrine Falcon (top) and Red-tailed Hawk (bottom) © Ramkumar Subramanian
Peregrine Falcon (top) and Red-tailed Hawk (bottom) © Ramkumar Subramanian
Black-crowned Night-Heron © Lisa Irwin
Black-crowned Night-Heron © Lisa Irwin

Ring in the New

The Ring-Standard Calendar has been a celebrated tradition for 123 years. Generation after generation, lovers of this unique desktop calendar have found it to be the perfect holiday and New Year’s gift.

This year’s motif was originally made for the 1960 edition by Mary Sage Shakespeare, a former staff illustrator at Mass Audubon. The calendar is made in the USA and printed on recycled paper. Learn more about the history of the calendar and order yours in the Mass Audubon Shop today!

Eastern Chipmunk © Susumu Kishihara

Take 5: Don’t Get Cheeky With Me

The industrious Eastern Chipmunk spends its days, especially this time of year as the weather is getting colder, gathering and storing food in their burrows, which will sustain them during the winter. 

Seeds, berries, nuts, and fruit are the mainstay of the chipmunk’s diet, but they also eat insects, insect larvae, slugs, snails, and earthworms. Occasionally they will eat birds such as sparrows, juncos, and starlings, bird’s eggs, frogs, and small snakes.

Folks who enjoy watching the antics of chipmunks in their yards are all too familiar with their iconic cheeks. Chipmunks possess cheek pouches in which they store food before depositing it in their burrow. Researchers have reported watching a chipmunk stuff nearly six dozen black-oil sunflower seeds into its pouches!

Learn more about chipmunks (including what to do if one accidentally finds its way into your house) on our website and enjoy these five fun photos of chipmunks literally stuffing their faces, all submitted in the past to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Eastern Chipmunk © Susumu Kishihara
Eastern Chipmunk © Susumu Kishihara
Eastern Chipmunk © Colleen Bruso
Eastern Chipmunk © Colleen Bruso
Eastern Chipmunk © Richard Cartier
Eastern Chipmunk © Richard Cartier
Eastern Chipmunk © Carianne Roche
Eastern Chipmunk © Carianne Roche
Eastern Chipmunk © Colleen Bruso
Eastern Chipmunk © Colleen Bruso
Red Maple Leaves © Renee Sack

Take 5: Take It Or Leave(s) It

Fall foliage is coming in slowly but surely across Massachusetts. Pops of red, orange, and gold pepper the forests and hillsides as nature begins to wind down for the impending winter.

To help you enjoy the fall colors, here are five photos from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest featuring close-ups of leaves in full fall regalia. Get the most out of fall with our fall foliage guide, including the timing of various tree species, great fall foliage hikes, and tips for capturing your own spectacular fall photography.

Red Maple Leaves © Renee Sack
Red Maple Leaves © Renee Sack
Fall sugar maple leaves and waterfall © Michael Rossacci
Fall leaves and waterfall © Michael Rossacci
Fall Leaves © Mariann Bucina
Fall Leaves © Mariann Bucina
Sugar Maple Leaves © Derrick Jackson
Sugar Maple Leaves © Derrick Jackson
Virginia Creeper © Joan Lacey
Virginia Creeper © Joan Lacey
Red-shouldered Hawk © Brian Rusnica

Take 5: Red-shouldered Hawks

Throughout September, birders and raptor-lovers have kept a careful eye on the sky on warm days, looking for “kettles” of hawks, climbing slowly upward in a spiral pattern on rising thermals (warm air pockets). September is prime season for fall hawk-watching, particularly for the Broad-winged Hawk, which is so numerous at times that hundreds or even thousands of birds have been reported in a day, but if you haven’t had a chance to get out there yet, there’s still time!

Although the total number of migrating hawks begins to decline after mid-September,  the variety improves by late September and early October when more of the larger, less common raptors are moving. These include the Cooper’s, Red-tailed, and today’s featured raptor, Red-shouldered Hawks.

These distinctively marked beauties are typically smaller than a Red-tailed Hawk but larger than a Broad-winged Hawk. Adults have reddish banding on their breasts and black-and-white banding on their tails.

These five photos have all been submitted in the past to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Today is the last day to enter the 2019 contest, so submit your photos now! You can also learn more about fall hawk-watching, including how to gauge the best time of day and weather conditions, on our website.

Red-shouldered Hawk © Lee Millet
Red-shouldered Hawk © Lee Millet
Red-shouldered Hawk © Richard Alvarnaz
Red-shouldered Hawk © Richard Alvarnaz
Red-shouldered Hawk © Sandra Taylor
Red-shouldered Hawk © Sandra Taylor
Red-shouldered Hawk © George Brehm
Red-shouldered Hawk © George Brehm
Red-shouldered Hawk © Brian Rusnica
Red-shouldered Hawk © Brian Rusnica
Belted Kingfisher © Christopher Ciccone

Take 5: Shake It Off

We all know that haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, but if you take after these finely feathered friends, all you have to do is shake it off! To get your week off on a positive note, here are five birds that really know how to let things roll, like water off a…well, you get the idea.

The photos in this fun collection were all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2019 photo contest closes on September 30, so submit your own nature photography today!

Mallard (male) © Krysta Bertoli
Mallard (male) © Krysta Bertoli
Belted Kingfisher © Christopher Ciccone
Belted Kingfisher © Christopher Ciccone
Mallard (female) © Jim Housley
Mallard (female) © Jim Housley
Black-capped Chickadee © Chad Parmet
Black-capped Chickadee © Chad Parmet
Mallard (male) © Srimanth Srinivasan
Mallard (male) © Srimanth Srinivasan
Eastern Milk Snake (juvenile) © Ashley Gibbs

Take 5: Snake My Day

We’ve given snakes some love on this blog before, but they’re just so cool it seemed like time for a redux. This time of year, as young people everywhere are heading back to school or leaving home for college, the young of many species of snakes are also setting out on their own in the world.

Some species, like Ringneck, Milk, and Eastern Hognose snakes, lay eggs during the summer that hatch in August or September while others, such as Copperheads and Northern Red-bellied Snakes, give birth to live young anywhere from mid-July through September, even into October in the case of Eastern Garter Snakes and Northern Watersnakes.

Massachusetts’s 14 species of native snakes can be found everywhere from wetlands to woodlands, from rocky hillsides to stone walls, and from forests to fields. You might even find an Eastern Garter Snake or Eastern Milk Snake hanging out in your basement, generously helping to remedy any rodent problems you might be having!

Enjoy these five photos of native snakes, all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Submit your own wildlife photography to this year’s contest and learn more about snakes on our website.

Eastern Ribbon Snake © Kathy Diamontopoulos
Eastern Ribbon Snake © Kathy Diamontopoulos
Northern Copperheads © Mark Lotterhand
Northern Copperheads © Mark Lotterhand
Eastern Hognose Snake © Patrick Randall
Eastern Hognose Snake © Patrick Randall
Eastern Milk Snake (juvenile) © Ashley Gibbs
Eastern Milk Snake (juvenile) © Ashley Gibbs
Northern Water Snake © Holland Hoagland
Northern Water Snake © Holland Hoagland
Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton

Take 5: Seashells By the Seashore

The days are getting shorter, summer camps are wrapping up for the season, and some schools are already back in session. Summer may be winding down, but there’s still time for you to sneak away to the beach and enjoy the remaining sunny days and hot weather.

And even if you can’t get away to spend some time by the ocean (or if sand between your toes—and everywhere else—just isn’t your thing), you can still enjoy a little beach vacation right here. These five images of “seashells by the seashore,” all submitted in the past to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, are just the ticket to remind you that summer is still hanging on. The 2019 photo contest is open for just one more month, so submit your nature photography today!

Mussel shell © Samantha Buckley
Mussel shell © Samantha Buckley
Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton
Channeled Whelk © Marian Stanton
A mix of periwinkles, dog whelks, and winkles © David Perkins
A mix of periwinkles, dog whelks, and winkles © David Perkins
Juvenile surf clam; the hole is from a moon snail © Deborah Carr
Juvenile surf clam; the hole is from a moon snail © Deborah Carr
Bay Scallop © Emily Zollo
Bay Scallop © Emily Zollo
Starry sky behind an illuminated lighthouse

Take 5: Seeing Stars

Summer is such a fantastic time of year for stargazing. True, you’ll have to stay up later for it to get dark, but at least you can comfortably enjoy the majesty of the night sky without a wool hat, gloves, heavy boots, parka, and half a dozen base layers.

Typically the most-viewed shower of the year, the Perseid meteor shower falls on August 13 (Tuesday). Although the Perseids can spit out 100 meteors per hour at their peak, the moon will be nearly full around the same time, so it may drown out many of the fainter meteors. Still, if the skies are clear tonight and tomorrow, you should be able to see a few “shooting stars”, especially after the moon sets in the early morning hours.

Enjoy these five great astronomy photos from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, see if there’s an upcoming astronomy program near you, and submit your own amazing astrophotography to the 2019 photo contest!

Starry sky behind an illuminated lighthouse
Night sky and lighthouse © Jason Taylor
Night sky over a beach
Night sky © Bill La Pine
Starry sky over an old jetty on the beach
Night sky © Evan Guarino
A jeep parked on a dirt road by a meadow with a star-filled sky above
Night sky © Bob Levesque
Stars and moon over the beach
Night sky © Ralph Freidin
Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian

Take 5: Hooded Mergansers

Thinking about taking a radical step with your next hairstyle? You could take a cue from the Hooded Merganser, a common but striking duck with an over-the-top (pun intended), fan-shaped, collapsible crest atop their heads. Adult males have bold black-and-white crests while females sport a cinnamon-colored version of the ‘do. Either coloring would certainly set you apart in a crowd!

Awkward on land but graceful in the water, Hooded Mergansers are diving ducks, preferring small ponds, rivers, and wetlands where they can dive for fish, amphibians, mollusks, and crayfish. They use their eyesight to hunt below the water surface and even have an extra set of transparent eyelids that act as a natural pair of “swim goggles” to protect their eyes.

Here are five fantastic photos of Hooded Mergansers from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The entries for the 2019 photo contest are rolling in, so submit yours for consideration soon!

Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian
Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian
Hooded Merganser (male) © Rob Griffith
Hooded Merganser (male) © Rob Griffith
Hooded Merganser (female) © Michael Rossacci
Hooded Merganser (female) © Michael Rossacci
Hooded Merganser (male) © Sandy Murphy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Sandy Murphy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Kim Nagy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Kim Nagy