Category Archives: General

Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit

What To Do This Weekend: Aug 10-11

Listen to music, attend a butterfly festival, look for birds, watch a meteor shower, camp out, go on a treasure hunt, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit
Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit

Berkshires

Bring a picnic, a blanket, and chairs to Pleasant Valley in Lenox for their Trailside Music Series. This week features the Amy Ryan Band. The event is free but registration is required.

More in the Berkshires

Central Massachusetts

Celebrate butterflies with a day of educational fun for the whole family during the Butterfly Festival at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. Enjoy nature walks, workshops, live music, face painting, food, live caterpillar exhibits, a butterfly-friendly plant sale, and more!

Head to Wachusett Meadow in Princeton for Yoga at the Sanctuary. In this outdoor class, connect with your breath, body, mind, and nature with Wachusett Meadow as your backdrop. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Greater Boston

Bring the kids to Drumlin Farm for Children’s Book Talk and Walk with artist Christie Matheson, author of Bird Watch. Search for the hidden birds in the book and then head outside to see birds at the sanctuary. (registration required)

Spend the morning Volunteering at Boston Nature Center and lend hand with the gardens and invasive plant control!

Learn all about Dragonflies and Butterflies at Broadmoor in Natick during programs geared for adults and families. (registration required)

Explore the wonderous world of Fireflies and Art at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton! Create firefly-inspired art, enjoy an ice cream sundae, and then set off for a walk in our sanctuary in search of fireflies. (families, registration required)

During Stars, S’mores, and Meteors at Blue Hills Trailside Museum, enjoy the sunset from the top of Chickatawbut Hill in Milton while you toast marshmallows around the campfire and enjoy some celestial stories. (families, registration required)

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

Go on an Owl Prowl Family Campout at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Take part in nature games and hands-on activities, set up your tent, and tell stories after the sun sets. (families, registration required)

Drop in to Joppa Flats in Newburyport before the beach, after the beach, or instead of the beach to Meet Beach Creatures in a 110-gallon tide pool touch tank. Volunteers interpret the amazing animals you may or may not have seen on your own beach visits and answer all the “why, what, how” questions you want to know.

More on the North Shore

Cape Cod

Enjoy an Early Bird Walk at Wellfleet Bay. From pine woodlands and freshwater pond to salt marsh and beach, the sanctuary’s diverse natural communities offer diverse bird sightings. (adults, registration required)

More on Cape Cod and Islands

South of Boston

Allens Pond in South Dartmouth is hosting their annual Duck Derby. Watch the event or enter from afar — you could win a trip anywhere in the world!

Head to Duxbury Beach for a Family Fun Day Compass Treasure Hunt. Learn how to use a compass and search for buried treasure… maybe even talk like a pirate!

More in South of Boston

© Lucy Allen

Take 5: Simply Sunbeams

Incredible wildlife shots and curiously textured mushrooms certainly make for amazing images, but sometimes great nature photography is as simple as capturing an interesting bend of the light.

This week, we are featuring photographs from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest that highlight the beauty of “crepuscular rays”, commonly known as sunbeams. This optical phenomenon occurs when sunlight shines through openings in the clouds or forest canopy, creating columns of brightly lit air molecules or particulates. Interestingly, these rays are actually parallel to one another but can appear to radiate outward from the sun’s location in the sky because of linear perspective—the same visual illusion that makes railroad tracks appear to converge in the distance.

Enjoy these five beautiful images and be sure to submit your own gorgeous landscape photography to the photo contest!

© Robin Palazzolo
© Robin Palazzolo
© Lucy Allen
© Lucy Allen
© Kay Ficht
© Kay Ficht
© Chad Parmet
© Chad Parmet
© Rod Parker
© Rod Parker
An osprey perched on a power line with an American flag flying in the background

Take 5: America the Beautiful

What is it that makes America so beautiful? Our breathtaking lands and wildlife, of course!

To celebrate our nation’s 243rd birthday this week, here are five photos from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, each of which includes an appearance by the American flag as well as some wildlife and scenic habitats from the lands we hold so dear.

Learn more about our work to conserve our most precious land here in Massachusetts and submit your own photos to the photo contest today!

A wild turkey walks through a field of grass filled with small American flags
Wild Turkey © Marie Riva
The American flag flies in the foreground over a tidal flat with kayakers in the mid-ground and the ocean in the background.
© Greg Stokinger
A Red-tailed hawk perches on a rock in the garden of a home with an American flag in the foreground and patriotic bunting behind it.
Red-tailed Hawk © Gail Sartori
The American flag flies over a green tractor in a field of sunflowers
© Jen Shepherd
An osprey perched on a power line with an American flag flying in the background
Osprey © Steve DiGiandomenico

Just Graduated College? Give TerraCorps a Try

Nick Tepper on Nantucket as part of the Alternative Spring Break.

It had been five minutes since we reached Nantucket’s southern shores, and a beautiful sunset was fading to afterglow over the dunes. All was calm when one of the students pointed and said ”a big bird just landed in that dune!”

Immediately, a Barn Owl floated effortlessly across the moors. We began passing binoculars like hot potatoes, unaware that magnification would soon become obsolete. One of the owls came so close that everyone could see his heart-shaped face and golden wings with the naked eye. It then hovered 20 feet from the van, grabbed a vole, ate it, and then exploded off into the night. 

This experience all happened thanks to TerraCorps. For the past six of months, I have been working at Mass Audubon as part of my TerraCorps service year. I’ve had the opportunity to work on many projects from launching Mass Audubon’s presence on iNaturalist to leading naturalist excursions during an Alternative Spring Break for UMass Boston students on Nantucket. 

As a recent college graduate, reading the “2-5 years of experience” requirement on job postings is pretty discouraging. TerraCorps supports young professionals like myself as they gain valuable experience and connections into the ecological field through hands-on work with ecologically based nonprofits. 

When I applied for this position, I only knew Mass Audubon as a legendary name in the world of conservation. Now I can personally attest that it is so much more. The people I’ve met, adventures I’ve had, and lessons I’ve learned have become permanent building blocks in my professional career.  

I am excited to say that Mass Audubon is actively looking to bring on more TerraCorps members throughout the state. Apply for a service year with Mass Audubon for a chance to learn from the best naturalists, stewards, and educators in Massachusetts. If your position is anything like mine, you will have dozens of Barn Owl-type moments that you will remember for a lifetime!

— Nick Tepper

Water droplets on a blade of grass © Heather Armata

Take 5: Drip, Drop

All throughout April and into May, it seemed as though the rain were never going to stop. At long last, the clouds have parted and the sun is shining! Although a lot of rain can be a real downer, a little bit of rain can make for some truly beautiful nature photography.

Here are beautiful shots of water droplets on plants that have been submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Be sure to sign up for photo contest updates so you’ll be the first to know when the 2019 contest opens for submissions (hint: it’s coming soon!)

Water droplets on a daisy © Ann Marie Sweetsir
© Ann Marie Sweetsir
Water puddled on a lily pad © Ashok Boghani
© Ashok Boghani
Water droplet hanging from the end of a yellow flower petal © Don Bullens
© Don Bullens
Water beaded along a blade of grass © Heather Armata
© Heather Armata
Water beaded on a leaf © Claire Vail
© Claire Vail

Why Bird-a-thon? Let Us Count the Ways

When it comes to participating in Bird-a-thon, there are many motives. There’s the thrill of competition, the delight in seeing a bird on your life list, the support of conservation, and so much more. But don’t take it from us–read a few snippets from current team members on what motivates them to get involved.

I am offering the once-a-year, special chance to support my addiction–birding...while also benefiting our fellow creatures, including the birds, plants and frogs. In addition to raising funds for Habitat, this yearly Bird-a-thon provides a fun and often demanding 24-hour window for birding addicts to find as many different species as possible during spring migration. Habitat is special to me as it not only provides outreach programs to a range of children to help them enjoy and appreciate the outdoors, it is also the place where I started birding.” — Bobbie, Team Habitat

Waiting for a ride to the beach … I’m hoping the little Green Herons will be back again this summer. But first comes spring and Bird-a-thon. I’m raising funds for Wellfleet Bay because of all it does to make where we live so special: from restoring rare coastal heathland habitats (and habitats for little green herons!) to rescuing cold stunned sea turtles and helping youngsters discover the wonders of the outdoors.” — Lynn, Team Wellfleet Bay

Stony Brook is a gem that I have loved since I started birding back in 2009. It is also a sanctuary that I love to protect because it is a place where I want to share with my two-year-old toddler. The team engages with people about nature, helps create a safe and comfortable place where little ones can explore and discover the wonders around them, and transforms the theoretical meaning of conservation into practical sense. The people who work at Stony Brook are amazing, patient, and passionate people. I am proud to be able to support their work, so that they can continue to do what they do best: helping people to enjoy nature and helping protect special places like Stony Brook for future generations.” Hung, Team Stony Brook

My grandson Liam was thrilled to add a Sandhill Crane to his life list two years ago. He will be joining me again this year. He’s a good little birder. He’s excellent at spotting and listening. ” — Mary, Team Coastal Waterbird Program

“I was browsing in the shop at Drumlin Farm and my eye was caught by the display of a book, The Lost Words. A poster beside the book explained that the authors had been dismayed when the Oxford Junior Dictionary decided to omit some words to make room for other “words that had more relevance for children today.” The words omitted included clover, acorn, dandelion, fern, heron, newt, and wren. The new words added included analog, blog, broadband, chatroom and voicemail. Children and adults alike need nature. And we need to support places like Drumlin Farm that provide a place to see our food grown, take a walk in the woods and listen to the wind bringing birdsong to our ears.” – Jacquelyn, Team Drumlin Farm

Feeling inspired?

It’s not too late to join a team to bird, raise money, or both! Find out how at massaudubon.org/birdathon.

Thank you to Bird-a-thon 2019 sponsors!

Presenting Sponsor
Media Sponsor

Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon

Take 5: Salamander Swarm

Every year, warming spring days trigger amphibians like spotted salamanders and wood frogs to migrate en masse to vernal pools to breed on the night of the first soaking rain above 45°F—a phenomenon known as “Big Night.” This spectacular annual event is taking place all across Massachusetts.

Vernal pools are temporary, isolated ponds that form when spring rain and meltwater from ice and snow flood into woodland hollows and low meadows. These pools provide critical breeding habitat for certain amphibian and invertebrate species—since vernal pools eventually dry up, they are inaccessible and inhospitable to predatory fish.

To celebrate the return of spring and the mass migration now taking place all around us, here are five great photos of native salamanders. Note that not all salamanders migrate to and breed in vernal pools—the eastern red-backed salamander, for example, has no aquatic larval stage at all, so you’re most likely to find one under a moist, rotting log or rock while northern dusky salamanders are stream denizens and lay their eggs in flowing seeps in June or July.

Blue-spotted Salamander © Patrick Randall
Blue-spotted Salamander © Patrick Randall
Eastern Red-backed Salamander © Chris Liazos
Eastern Red-backed Salamander © Chris Liazos
Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon
Spotted Salamander © Ryan Dorsey/Mass Audubon
Northern Dusky Salamander © Patrick Randall
Northern Dusky Salamander © Patrick Randall
Blue-spotted Salamander © Brendan Cramphorn
Blue-spotted Salamander © Brendan Cramphorn
Katydid © April Churchill

Take 5: Fooled You!

April Fools! Nature is chock-full of animals trying to “fool” potential predators with an amazing array of evolutionary tricks.

Take, for example, the beautiful, veined, leaf-green wings of the katydid or the “eyespots” on the wings of a polyphemus moth. The Eastern Screech Owl’s camouflaged plumage can render it nearly invisible against a tree trunk while expert mimics like the unspotted looper moth or the giant swallowtail caterpillar can be indistinguishable from a brown leaf and a dollop of bird poop, respectively.

Enjoy these five photos of wildlife that can easily fool you—they’re probably a bit more pleasant than your average office prank, anyway!

Katydid © April Churchill
Katydid © April Churchill
Eastern Screech-Owl © Brad Dinerman
Eastern Screech-Owl © Brad Dinerman
Polyphemus Moth © Martha Pfeiffer
Polyphemus Moth © Martha Pfeiffer
Giant Swallowtail "Bird Poop" Caterpillar © Mass Audubon
Giant Swallowtail “Bird Poop” Caterpillar © Mass Audubon
Unspotted Looper Moth © Kristin Foresto
Unspotted Looper Moth © Kristin Foresto
Water drop © Greg Allison

A Day Older, a Day Water Wiser

Water is a precious resource and our use (or misuse) of water has a direct impacts on our energy footprint. The water we use at home to do laundry, shower, or clean the dishes all impacts how much energy we consume: it takes energy to clean and transport that water, to treat and dispose of wastewater after we are finished with it, and to heat it when needed.

© Greg Allison

These Water Stats May Surprise You

Americans are one of the least conscious water users, and therefore, energy consumers, withdrawing an average of 98 gallons each day. About 60% of that is used indoors for toilets, clothes washers, showers, and faucets. Another 30% is used outdoors for water lawns, gardens, and plants, and the final 10% is lost to leaks in the pipes that deliver water to us.

The EPA estimates that if one out of every hundred U.S. homes switched an older toilet out for new, efficient one, the country would save more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity –that’s roughly enough energy to power 43,000 households for a month.

On top of that, hot water is responsible for about a quarter of residential energy use worldwide and requires a surprising amount of energy. In fact, running hot water out of a facet for five minutes requires about the same energy it takes to burn a 60W incandescent bulb for about 14 hours.

Be Water Wise

The close link between water and energy use means when we enhance efficiency in one category, we are often increasing the sustainable use of the other. Here are a few ways to be water wise.

Install of water efficient appliances, low flush toilets, and efficient washing machines. Look for the WaterSense products, which backed by independent, third-party certification and meet EPA’s speciation for water efficiency and performance.

Cut your average shower time to five minutes and wash only full loads of clothes. Each of these actions can reduce average water use by 7 to 8% per shower or load of laundry.

Capture rainwater to water your garden or lawn, or simply shift to plants that do not require the same amount of water to sustain them.

Pledge to be Water Wise

Commit to being a more conscious water and energy consumer for the good of people and the planet.

Take the Pledge >

loving our local outdoors in partnership with REI

Shop at REI and Support Mass Audubon

REI is awarding grant money to three local nonprofits, including Mass Audubon! But how much we get depends on you.

If you’re an REI member, shop at one of their stores in Massachusetts or Cranston, RI, now through April 8 to cast your vote for us!

The money we receive will go toward building universally accessible trails at our Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in South Dartmouth and Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick so everyone can get out and enjoy nature.