Mass Audubon has three wildlife sanctuaries in the Berkshires: Pleasant Valley in Lenox, Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield, and Lime Kiln Farm in Sheffield. These beautiful places feature scenic views, forests, fields, wetlands, and abundant wildlife. Here are five portraits of this region from past participants in our Photo Contest.
The leaves may have fallen and frosts may have come, but there’s still so much to see and do in nature. Join us this weekend for a great mix of programs, from crafts to birding to winter plant walks.
- Go on a Holiday Holly Hike at Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary in Falmouth and observe some of the 65 beautiful varieties. Plus, bring one shopping bag to fill with boughs for holiday decorating! (All ages)
- Discover the rich birdlife of Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester on a Saturday-Morning Bird Walk for Adults. This program is suitable for casual and novice birders alike. Knowledgeable guides will share the basics of birding and bird identification during an easy-to-moderate walk along the trails. (Adult, registration required)
- Bring the family to a Sense of Wonder Walk: Evergreen Trees and Cones at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Start with a story; we’ll read The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown. Then visit the forest to identify a variety of evergreens by their shape, needles, cones, and fragrance. (All ages, registration required)
- Kids can bring a favorite adult and make a nature-themed Holiday Gift Craft at Arcadia in Easthampton. Crafts may include felting, panpipes, leaf pendants, and gourd birdhouses. We’ll also provide recycled material to wrap the finished creations. (Adult/child, registration required)
- At Broadmoor in Natick’s Photo Review with a Pro, learn helpful tips from an award-winning photojournalist. Bring your untouched images and find out how to refine them like a pro: how to choose the best angle, how to crop and process them, which images to submit to a photo contest, and what a magazine editor would have to say. This class is small for individualized attention. (Adult, registration required)
- Pick up unique, locally-made presents at North River in Marshfield’s Holiday Open House. The Massachusetts South Shore Woodturners will be exhibiting and selling their wares and providing woodturning demonstrations. See how these artists make bowls, ornaments, jewelry, bird sculptures, and more. Also, enjoy complimentary cider and snacks, a tour of the historic Nature Center, and fun activities for kids. (All ages)
- No leaves? No problem! Become an instant expert on identifying winter woody plants with Habitat in Belmont’s Bare Trees and Naked Shrubs. This program combines outdoor and indoor learning and concludes with a twig quiz and a cup of something hot. (Adult, registration required)
- Winter is a wonderful time to appreciate birds in your neighborhood. Get started with Boston Nature Center in Mattapan’s Winter Backyard Birding. Find out how to use binoculars, go on a bird hike, and create some seed and fruit art for the birds to enjoy. (Family, registration encouraged but walk-ins welcome)
For a full listing of our weekend programs, visit our program catalog, where you can register online.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so it’s time to be thankful for turkeys. While most livestock originates from Europe, Africa, and Asia, turkeys are native to the Americas and were domesticated by ancient Mesoamericans. Therefore, our wild turkeys are close relatives. Enjoy five portraits of wild turkeys from past Photo Contest entries and learn more about these birds.
And be sure to check out our Turkey Talk infographic and share away!
Plan for a terrific weekend with our programs. Go on a winter berry walk, learn about turkeys, try nature journaling, and more.
- We’ve got a whole flock of turkey-related activities:
- Take Turkeys 101 at Moose Hill in Sharon. Hear fascinating trivia, search for turkey habitats, make a craft that will brighten the holiday table, and try to sound like a real turkey during a gobbling contest. (All ages, registration required)
- Pick up some great trivia for the Thanksgiving table at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton’s Turkey Time. Learn about this bird’s life cycle and habits and search for evidence of turkeys at the wildlife sanctuary. Then, create an attractive craft for the table. (Adult/Child, registration required)
- Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries offers Wild Turkeys and Fall Harvest at Laughing Brook in Hampden. Discover interesting facts about this bird and walk the trails in search of evidence that animals such as turkeys and squirrels are busy harvesting nuts. (All ages, registration required)
- Enjoy a Wild Turkey Talk and Walk at Oak Knoll in Attleboro. Start by learning key turkey facts such as how to tell a male from a female and how this species recovered after nearly disappearing from Massachusetts. Next, take a hike on the trails to look for signs of these and other birds. (All ages, registration required)
- Go on a naturalist-guided Big Woods Hike at Ipswich River in Topsfield to discover what is happening in the world of nature as plants and animals prepare for winter. We will stop along the way to hear stories of the original settlers and learn about the fascinating cultural history of the sanctuary. We’ll look for animal signs as we hike through the woodlands and marshes, taking in the beauty of the muted colors of late autumn. (All, registration required)
- Visit a uniquely beautiful habitat with Spruce-Fir Forest Ecology, sponsored by Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries and Tamarack Hollow Nature and Cultural Center. Learn to identify the trees in this high-elevation forest, such as tamarack and balsam fir, as well as beautiful forest floor plants such as Christmas fern and bunchberry. Plus, see a cellar hole and hear about life in remote hilltowns in the 1800s. (Adult, registration required)
- Try Nature Journaling at Boston Nature Center in Mattapan. Early naturalists and explorers learned about the natural world by drawing, writing, listening, and discovering. Continue this tradition by exploring the wildlife sanctuary and recording plants, rocks, wildlife, and more. Bring your own special journal or create one with us. Use pencil, pen, colored pencils, and watercolors to illustrate observations. (All ages)
- Observe Wintering Hawks in the Newburyport/Salisbury area on a trip sponsored by Ipswich River in Topsfield. November is a great time for hawk-watching because many birds are arriving to spend the winter. Beginners and more advanced birders are welcome. Come improve your hawk and owl identification skills while looking for amazing raptors! (Adult, registration required)
- Take a Winter Berry Walk at Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Wareham and look for festively colored berries and other winter food sources that are feeding wildlife during this season. Plus, keep an eye out for tracks and other evidence of animals that live amongst the pines. (All ages, registration required)
This is just a sampling of what we have planned. For a full listing, visit our program catalog, where you can register online.
Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick covers 624 acres of woodland, marshland, and more along Indian Brook and the Charles River. An accessible boardwalk brings visitors of all ages and abilities right into the habitats of aquatic plants and wildlife, with interpretation including seasonal audio tours. Beyond the boardwalk, you will discover beaver dams, nesting wood ducks, basking turtles, and scenic waterfalls. Explore this beautiful wildlife sanctuary via five Photo Contest entries.
Every month we feature a few the past month’s bird sightings as suggested by our experts. Here are five notable observations from October.
Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus)
A living rainbow, this bird has enormous feet that enable it to walk across floating wetland plants such as lily pads. It can also swim. The purple gallinule is essentially a tropical species, and in the US it is typically found only in the far south and southeast. However, individuals regularly wander and turn up in odd places during migration—such as this one found at the Westborough WMA in Worcester County.
Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii)
Another southern species, the Bell’s vireo breeds in the central and western US and parts of Mexico, and winters in Mexico. A small, fairly plain-looking songbird, it has a remarkably loud song. Researchers at the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences banded a Bell’s vireo last month. It was the third such occurrence since 2005.
Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
Native to the western US, the rufous hummingbird breeds as far north as Alaska. It is a speedy, vibrant species, and makes up for its small size with tenacity and aggression. The male’s throat is orange but the female only shows a spot of orange. Last month a rufous hummingbird was seen in Great Barrington. The Allen’s hummingbird, a very similar species, can be very hard to distinguish from the rufous. Fortunately, the bird in Great Barrington was an adult male with a distinctive, completely rufous-colored back.
Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)
Last month we shared a report of a Say’s phoebe on Nantucket. In October, another individual was spotted in Eastham. This western flycatcher is at home on ranches, and in badlands, desert edges, and other open arid habitats. It breeds all the way to northern Alaska and winters in parts of the southwestern US and Mexico. Individuals sometimes wander East during fall migration, and when they do, they inevitably make an eastern birder’s day.
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
This songbird is master traveler. It nests in Europe and Asia—with some birds entering North America in the high north from both the east and west—and winters in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers have found that Alaskan northern wheatears travel an average of over 9000 miles to reach their wintering grounds! Stragglers sometimes find their way south to Massachusetts, where one was spotted at the Wachusett Reservoir in Worcester County last month.
We’ve got many different ways to connect with nature this weekend: through bird walks, night hikes, wildlife exploration, an intergenerational afternoon of caring for trails, and so much more.
- Broadmoor in Natick presents Busy Beavers. The wildlife sanctuary’s beavers are busy preparing for winter. Visit different sites, learn what it’s like to be a beaver, and find out how you can recognize the signs that these animals have been in the area. As sunset approaches, watch the resident beavers on their evening explorations. (Family, registration required)
- At Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester’s Saturday-Morning Bird Walk for Adults, view the immense variety of bird life at this large urban sanctuary. Beginners are welcome; we’ll teach you the basics of birding and bird identification during an easy-to-moderate walk along the trails. (Adult, registration required)
- Join a HIP Trails Day at Habitat Education Center in Belmont. The HIP program brings people of many generations together to learn and have fun. Enjoy an afternoon of environmental stewardship; care for the trails, gardens, and more. Younger children can take part in special activities. (All ages, registration required)
- Every landscape holds clues that can be used to understand past land uses, all one has to do is to understand how to read the clues. Join Sanctuary Director Doug Williams for Exploring the Landscape for Clues to Our Past at Stony Brook in Norfolk to learn and practice forest investigation skills while walking around the sanctuary. (Adults, registration required)
- Join Clare Walker Leslie, author of The Curious Nature Guide for an Author Talk and Nature Walk at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. You will learn to observe and appreciate what you see in a whole new way. (Adults, registration encouraged)
- Go on a Family Night Hike at Arcadia in Easthampton. Take in wonders of the forest at night. Play a game, listen for owls, make sparks with rocks, discuss the survival strategies of nocturnal animals, and finish up with a “sparkle party”! (Family, registration required)
- At the free annual State of Wellfleet Harbor Conference, learn all about current research and monitoring projects related to the harbor and its watershed. Also, discuss your concerns and questions about the harbor’s health. (Adult)
- In order to survive, animals use many disguises. They can stay very still, blend in with their surroundings, and even change color. During Sense of Wonder: Cool Camouflage, we’ll take a hike to look for these secretive creatures that hide themselves from prying eyes. Then we’ll design a camouflaged moth. (All, registration required)
- Bring the family for Fireside Stories and Stargazing at North River Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield and discover the attraction of the autumn sky! Listen to stories about kings, queens, sea monsters, and more. Enjoy a short walk to explore the stars and learn about some of the more famous fall constellations. (Family, registration required)
This is just a sampling of what we have planned. For a full listing, visit our program catalog, where you can register online.
Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield offers a wide variety of landscapes. Explore geological features that were created by glaciers, paddle the river, watch swallows zip over the meadows, and see much more along the 12+ miles of trails. Here are five photographs of this wildlife sanctuary that were captured by past participants in our Photo Contest.