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.

School of Fish © Suzette Johnson

Take 5: Under the Sea

For the majority of Earth’s creatures, life really is “better down where it’s wetter, under the sea.” Scientists estimate that as much as 80% of life on Earth is found in its oceans. With as much knowledge as we have gained about the oceans, we have truly only scratched the surface.

Here are five underwater photos from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. See the most recent and past contest winners and sign up for alerts when the next contest is announced on our website.

Blue Shark © Kevin McCarthy
Blue Shark © Kevin McCarthy
Hermit Crab © Emily Zollo
Hermit Crab © Emily Zollo
Harbor Seal Pup © Alex Shure
Harbor Seal Pup © Alex Shure
School of Fish © Suzette Johnson
School of Fish © Suzette Johnson
Jellyfish (likely Lion's Mane) © Alex Shure
Jellyfish (likely Lion’s Mane) © Alex Shure
Barn Swallow © Ken Lee

Take 5: Mirror, Mirror

We all need time to pause for moments of reflection. Why not “take five” and reflect on these five photos of wildlife and their mirror images? They might just have you seeing double…

These photos were all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. See the 2018 photo contest winners on our website and sign up for alerts when the contest opens again for 2019.

Mallard © Mark Landman
Mallard © Mark Landman
Great Blue Heron © Don Miffitt
Great Blue Heron © Don Miffitt
Orange Bluet Damselfly © Sherri Van den Akker
Orange Bluet Damselfly © Sherri Van den Akker
Purple Sandpiper © Davey Walters
Purple Sandpiper © Davey Walters
Barn Swallow © Ken Lee
Barn Swallow © Ken Lee
Snowy Owl © Diane Robertson

Take 5: Grumpy Birds

Another snowed-in Monday got you feeling a little blah? These grumpy-looking birds know how you feel. Or, at least, they look like they do. At any rate, here’s hoping they’ll take a bit of the edge off your winter blues.

These photos were all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. See the 2018 photo contest winners on our website and sign up for alerts when the contest opens again for 2019.

Snowy Owl © Diane Robertson
Snowy Owl © Diane Robertson
Barn Swallows © Sherri Van den Akker
Barn Swallows © Sherri Van den Akker
Red- Tailed Hawk © Brooks Mathewson
Red- Tailed Hawk © Brooks Mathewson
Tree Swallow © Barbara Batchelder
Tree Swallow © Barbara Batchelder
Snowy Owl © David Seibel
Snowy Owl © David Seibel
Gray Squirrel and Red-Tailed Hawk © David Morris

Take 5: Great Timing

There is a tremendous amount of skill that goes into capturing a great photo: lighting, exposure, composition, depth of field, and so much more. But any wildlife photographer will tell you it also takes a good deal of luck.

Here are five examples of great timing in photography—just the right balance of skill, luck, and being in the right place at the right time with the right equipment to capture an unusual shot. These photos were all submitted to our annual nature photography contest, Picture This: Your Great Outdoors. You can see the winners of past photo contests and signup to be notified when this year’s contest opens on our website.

Gray Squirrel and Red-Tailed Hawk © David Morris
Gray Squirrel and Red-Tailed Hawk © David Morris
Mallard Ducklings © Nathan Goshgarian
Mallard Ducklings © Nathan Goshgarian
Cedar Waxwing © Kim Nagy
Cedar Waxwing © Kim Nagy
White-breasted Nuthatch © David Baake
White-breasted Nuthatch © David Baake
Eastern Bluebirds © William Hottin
Eastern Bluebirds © William Hottin

Eastern Screech-Owl © Amy Powers-Smith

Take 5: Owl Things Considered

It may still be cold and wintery outside, but things are heating up for our breeding owl species. Late winter is the height of the courtship and mating season for most owl species so there’s a good chance you may hear a “hoo’s hoo” of mating calls (although not all owls make “hoo” sounds!) on your next stroll through the forest. Great Horned Owls, for example, are one of our earliest breeders and begin hooting to attract mates as early as December.

Many owls roost in tree cavities during the day and those that do will also lay their eggs in tree cavities, although a roosting cavity is not necessarily also a nesting cavity. Lots of nature photographers love to capitalize on this fact to capture some wonderful photos of “owl peek-a-boo”. Here are five great shots of owls in tree cavities that were entered into our annual photo contest. For your own chance to glimpse one of these gorgeous raptors, join one of the dozens of Owl Prowls happening at our sanctuaries this time of year.

Eastern Screech-Owls © Peter Bartholomew
Eastern Screech-Owls © Peter Bartholomew
Eastern Screech-Owl © Richard Cuzner
Eastern Screech-Owl © Richard Cuzner
Barred Owls © Fred Harwood
Barred Owls © Fred Harwood
Eastern Screech-Owl © Amy Powers-Smith
Eastern Screech-Owl © Amy Powers-Smith
Eastern Screech-Owl © Jeff Martineau
Eastern Screech-Owl © Jeff Martineau
Northern Cardinals © Jason Goldstein

My Funny {Nature} Valentines 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day from Mass Audubon! Send your nature-loving sweetheart one of these special valentines to show them how much you care about them and about protecting nature and wildlife —or better yet, consider making a donation in honor of your someone special.

For this year’s valentines, we mixed things up with a few silly and corny ones as well as a few sweet and heartfelt sentiments. To see even more options, check out our nature valentines from 2018, 20172016, and 2015.

Hey Valentine, How About A Little Peck?
Valentine, You're Otterly Adorable
Valentine, You're Such a Stud Puffin
Valentine, I Love the Life We've Built Together
Valentine, You're An Amazing Parent to Our Little Ducklings
Great Horned Owl

What To Do This Weekend: February 9–10

It’s all about owls at our wildlife sanctuaries this weekend, with lots of owl prowls, owl encounters, and even an Owl Festival, but if owls aren’t your “thing”, you can also find a wine tasting, animal tracking programs for all ages, shinrin yoku “forest breathing”, and more at a sanctuary near you.

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

Berkshires

Search for tracks, scat, and other signs of animals that stay active through the winter during a free Winter Wildlife Tracking program at beautiful Notchview preserve in Windsor. Begin with a discussion indoors then head outside to learn about how animals move and behave through the tracks they leave behind. (families, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Cape & Islands

Explore the beaches, dunes, and waters of the Outer Cape in search of winter birds including snow buntings, horned larks, sea ducks, loons, and snowy owls during a Birding the Winter Beach program sponsored by Wellfleet Bay in Wellfleet. (adults, registration required)

Gather as a community at the Rosewater Cafe for coffee and conversations about food justice and other local environmental issues during another Climate Cafe hosted by Felix Neck in Vineyard Haven.

More on the Cape & Islands

Central Massachusetts

Learn to connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way during a Shinrin-Yoku/Forest Breathing Guided Sanctuary Walk at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. (all ages, registration required)

Beginner Wildlife Tracking for Adults at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton starts indoors with a one-hour introduction to tracking techniques followed by an outdoor hike to practice putting your new skills to use. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

Celebrate the seasonal return of bald eagles to the region with the annual Merrimack Valley Eagle Festival at Joppa Flats Education Center. Visit eagle hot spots on your own or with an expert guide, then head indoors for nature activities and an up-close view of rehabilitated hawks and owls. (all ages)

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and love is in the air at Wine & Lovebirds: A Valentine’s Social at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Enjoy a wine tasting from Mill River Winery of Rowley along with sweet treats and appetizers while taking a lighthearted peek into the beautiful and bizarre truth behind bird courtship and mating. (adults 21+, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Explore the wonders of owls with an owl prowl for adults, a full moon owl prowl for families, or an up-close and personal owl encounter at Broadmoor in Natick at this weekend’s two-day Owl Festival. (audience age varies by program, registration required)

At Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, learn how you can enjoy honey, beeswax, pollen, and the miracle of bees right in your backyard during the Boston Area Beekeepers Association’s Introduction to Beekeeping program. (adults, registration required)

Join a Family Animal Tracking Adventure at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton to become a “Nature Detective” and learn about “stories in the snow” and many other signs that wildlife leave behind as clues to how and where they travel to find food, water, and shelter. (families, registration required)

Take a Sunday Saunter with an expert naturalist through Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon to look for winter birds and other natural curiosities, then warm up with hot cocoa and coffee back at the nature center. (adults)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

During Desserts and Destinations: Trinidad at North River in Marshfield, discover the fascinating bird life and other natural wonders of Trinidad over dessert and learn about the fascinating history of the island’s Asa Wright Nature Centre. (adults, registration required)

Explore Oak Knoll after dark on a Family Owl Prowl at the sanctuary in Attleboro. Start off indoors with an interactive presentation, then head outside for a night hike to listen for evidence of our feathery friends.

More in South of Boston

Indigo Bunting © Amy Powers-Smith

Take 5: 2018 Photo Contest Honorable Mentions

This year, more than 4,000 images were submitted in the Mass Audubon Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest—another record year! It wasn’t easy to determine the winners with so many incredible entries, but thankfully we always allow for a handful of Honorable Mentions outside of the main categories so we can highlight some of our favorites that just barely missed the cut.

Here are five Honorable Mentions that we loved from the 2018 photo contest. See all of the winners and runners-up on our website and get some tips for capturing a winning photo for next year’s contest.

Indigo Bunting © Amy Powers-Smith
Indigo Bunting © Amy Powers-Smith
Lighthouse © Jason Taylor
Lighthouse © Jason Taylor
Orange Bluet Damselfly © Sherri Vanden Akker
Orange Bluet Damselfly © Sherri Vanden Akker
Red Eft © Anna Mitchell
Red Eft © Anna Mitchell
© Melissa Knowles
© Melissa Knowles
Eastern Bluebird © Cheryl Rose

Take 5: Winter Songbirds

Whether you’re briskly pacing across Boston Common or gazing out your kitchen window into a snow-covered suburban backyard, birds can be seen all winter long. The birds featured below are some of the most commonly seen species in winter all across Massachusetts, and many of them will readily come to bird feeders.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but many urban and suburban avian visitors in the winter months will belong to one of the species below. See a longer list of cold-weather Massachusetts birds on our website and enjoy these five beautiful photographs from our photo contest archives.

American Goldfinch © Alex Renda
American Goldfinch © Alex Renda
Cedar Waxwing © Bernard Creswick
Cedar Waxwing © Bernard Creswick
White-breasted Nuthatch © Jonathan Eckerson
White-breasted Nuthatch © Jonathan Eckerson
Tufted Titmouse © Kim Nagy
Tufted Titmouse © Kim Nagy
Eastern Bluebird © Cheryl Rose
Eastern Bluebird © Cheryl Rose
Snowy Park Bench © Priya Ramachanriya Surendranath

Take 5: Falling Snow

There’s something a bit magical about falling snow. Sounds become muted and soft, many winter birds and other wildlife seek shelter to conserve energy, and a gentle hush falls over the natural world.

Here are five photos that capture the soft quietude of a winter snowfall, taken from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Visit our website to see the recently announced winners of the 2018 contest. We’ll be announcing the dates and locations for the traveling exhibit for the 2018 winners soon, so keep an eye on the blog for details.

Red-tailed Hawk © Christopher Ciccone
Red-tailed Hawk © Christopher Ciccone
Snowy Landscape © Karen Karlberg
Snowy Landscape © Karen Karlberg
Northern Cardinal © Nathan Butler
Northern Cardinal © Nathan Butler
Snowy Park Bench © Priya Ramachanriya Surendranath
Snowy Park Bench © Priya Ramachanriya Surendranath
White Pine cone © Claudia Carpinone
White Pine cone © Claudia Carpinone