Category Archives: General

Celebrate Urban Wildlife Conservation with Mass Audubon

In celebration of Urban Wildlife Conservation Day, Mass Audubon sanctuaries across the state are hosting unique programs focused on urban wildlife this October. While Urban Wildlife Conservation Day takes place this year on October 8, Mass Audubon sanctuaries will be offering programs exploring Massachusetts urban wildlife throughout the first two weeks of October. 

Urban Wildlife Conservation Day is the kickoff to National Wildlife Refuge Week, which is observed annually during the second full week of October. This event was started by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to celebrate the important conservation work that the National Wildlife Refuge System accomplishes. 

Bird sitting on a tree.
Black-capped Chickadee

Bird Watching 

There are several opportunities to get out and do some urban birding with Mass Audubon in celebration of Urban Wildlife Conservation Day. On Saturday, October 1, Mass Audubon will be offering a guided birding experience at Broad Meadow Brook Conservation Canter and Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester, MA and at Magazine Beach Park Nature Center in Cambridge, MA. Search for common birds including Black-capped Chickadees, Mourning Doves, and Mallards and maybe catch a glimpse of a more uncommon bird migrating. 

These programs are both suitable for beginner bird watchers and will teach the basics of bird identification in unique settings that offer the potential to observe a variety of birds. 

Climate Café  

Participate in a Climate Café at Magazine Beach Park Nature Center on October 1 or at the New Bedford Public Library on October 5 and discuss local implications of climate change in a relaxed, informal setting. 

Climate Café conversations not only foster comfort and understanding of climate change and its local impacts, but they also equip participants with the skills and confidence they need to talk about climate change with the people they care about. 

Walk in Nature  

Hit the trails on Urban Wildlife Conservation Day at Boston Nature Center, October 8, with an experienced naturalist and learn how to identify wild edible plants. This program will focus on what to look for and how to safely and responsibly harvest the edible parts of the plants, from berries to flowers to roots and leaves. 

Photography  

Learn to master your smartphone camera to capture and edit the best of urban nature on the go with a free intro to photography program at Magazine Beach Park Nature Center on October 8. Spend an hour learning how to capture different types of light, using various focal lengths, and practice bringing your photos to life with in-phone editing. 

Band playing outside of the Powder Magazine building.

Spotlight: Magazine Beach Park Nature Center

Situated on the edge of the Charles River, Magazine Beach Park Nature Center is a central point for people to stop in and learn about nature in the city and Cambridge’s history. In 2021, Mass Audubon partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to transform the historic Powder Magazine building into a seasonal nature center that offers nature-based exploration, kayaking, birding, arts and crafts, and more.  

Paul Kelley (left) and Evan Roberts (right)

History of the Powder Magazine

At first glance, it’s hard to see the history nestled in between the solid granite rocks of the Powder Magazine on the Charles River. Only upon closer inspection can you see where a wall once stood in 1818, dividing Cambridge’s public and private gun powder stores. The location of the building was just the right distance from the town to protect residents from any explosions but close enough to access for militia and war emergencies.  

Little evidence is left of its time as a public bath house for the Charles River from 1899 to 1946 or as a garage and storage unit for decades after. Now, with a renewed purpose as the Magazine Beach Park Nature Center, the Powder Magazine is once again filled with life from the Cambridge community. 

A band playing outside the Powder Building with people looking on and dancing.

Connecting with the Community 

Mass Audubon’s own Paul Kelley, Cambridge community education coordinator, and Evan Roberts, Magazine Beach site manager, help organize a range of nature-based programs and events at the Magazine Beach Park Nature Center from April through November.  

“I love my job because it is so locally based,” says Kelley. “It allows me to connect with the Cambridge community and collaborate with partners to develop creative programming.” 

In alignment with Mass Audubon’s Action Agenda goal to increase equitable access to nature, every program and event is created specifically for—and with—residents and visitors to connect people with the environment, even in the heart of an urban area.  

One program, Paddle for Empowerment, allows over 500 youth from underinvested communities to experience the beauty of the city and the Charles River from the cockpit of a kayak. And, during the Nature in City Festival in July, over 300 people celebrated nature with environmental-themed activities, opportunities for climate action, food trucks, a live band, and a participatory art installation.  

Kayakers pass beneath a bridge on the Charles River.
Kayakers from the Summer Nights Paddling program

The Future of Magazine Beach 

As project and event planning continues to ramp up, Kelley and Roberts collaborate with groups like DCR, Magazine Beach Partners, Charles River Conservancy, and others to plan for future events and installations at the site. Mass Audubon is also working to lend expertise to ecological management projects like invasive species removal and native plantings, along with volunteer opportunities for people who want to be part of stewarding this important resource in the city. Roberts has found being a part of the development process for the site to be extremely rewarding, as he knows what it’s like to seek out nature in a city. 

“After moving to Boston from a rural town, I have felt times where I wanted to escape to nature but have been unable to. The Magazine Beach Park Nature Center is perfect for people looking to connect with the environment without going too far,” says Roberts. 

Art installation inside the Magazine Beach nature center of a bird made out of single-use plastics
Art by Michelle Lougee

Visit Today

Magazine Beach has something for everyone. Drop in to look at artist Michelle Lougee’s giant tern made of single-use plastics or enjoy the view of waterfowl and songbirds from the patio or on the riverside trail. Take up paddling at the Summer Nights Paddling programs on Fridays or join the next Nature in the City Festival. Start planning your visit today >