Category Archives: Stuff We Love

Piping Plover

City Nature Challenge — Accepted!

Our TerraCorps member Nick Tepper took over the Mass Audubon iNaturalist account from April 26 to April 29 to participate in Boston’s City Nature Challenge: a fun-filled citizen science competition to document biodiversity around the world.

Nick submitted over 400 observations and documented over 220 species. Here are some of his favorite photos from the challenge:

Piping Plover doing some yoga

Blue Grosbeak hawking insects out of the air

Post-breeding female Blue-spotted Salamander

Hundreds of Wood Frog eggs hatching

And a Gray Catbird singing away!

iNaturalist & Mass Audubon

Check out what people are seeing at Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries and share your own sightings through the iNaturalist Mass Audubon Project.

Crowdsourcing Nature Sightings

Have you ever asked a friend for the ID of a plant or animal you didn’t recognize? Are you the friend who gets asked? Do you ever snap a photo of something you don’t recognize to research later, but you never get to it? Do you have hundreds of pictures on your phone or computer of plants and animals that you wish could be of use to someone? If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider joining iNaturalist!

What is iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is an online platform designed to connect people like you to an entire community of nature enthusiasts). Here, users share sightings of plants, fungi, and animals and in return get identifications on what’s in their images (or audio files). ID’s are consensus-based. This means other users can see your observations, and either agree or disagree with your identifications based on their own knowledge.

An observation becomes “research grade” when the majority of identifiers reach a species-level consensus about the plant, animal, or fungi in your picture. If you think your photo of an insect in your yard isn’t important enough to post, think again! All research grade observations on iNaturalist get added to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and can then be used in scientific research and publications.

How to Use iNaturalist

One of the best parts about iNaturalist is that everyone can use it–you don’t need to be a scientist or a professional naturalist. All you need is a computer or smartphone and an interest in the natural world around you.

To get started, create a free account at iNaturalist.org or via the smartphone app. Then, upload identifiable pictures or audio with a location and a date and give it your best ID (if you have no clue, the platform will often suggest what it thinks is in your photo). Within minutes or hours, other users will see your observation and will help to identify it.

iNaturalist and Mass Audubon

Mass Audubon is launching an iNaturalist initiative to compile a catalog of the biodiversity present at our wildlife sanctuaries. All of our sanctuaries are now a “Project” that you can contribute to. Make sure to scroll through the leaderboard to see the standing of your favorite sanctuary. Then get outside, enjoy the outdoors, and start observing!

— Nick Tepper, TerraCorps

Holiday Brush Owl

Mass Audubon’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide is Here

Have you heard? Now through Sunday, November 18, Mass Audubon members can save 20% on our fantastic selection of nature-themed gifts, toys, books, and more in the Mass Audubon Shop.* Visit us in person at the Mass Audubon Shop at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln or check out a selection of offerings in our online store.

If you need some inspiration, find the perfect gift for everyone on your list in the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide, from birders to bee-lovers and from go-out-for-adventurers to stay-in-and-entertainers.

And remember, every purchase from the Mass Audubon Shop goes directly to support our mission of protecting the nature and wildlife of Massachusetts.

*Some exclusions apply. Valid in-store and online. Discount will be applied at checkout in the Mass Audubon Shop online store.


Audubon Bird ClockGifts for the Birder

Fill your home with the sights (and sounds) of the wonderful world of birds.

See all Gifts for the Birder >

 

 

Bee Kitchen TowelGifts for the Bee-Lover

Bee devotees will love our selection of pollinator-themed home decor, apparel, and toiletries.

See all Gifts for the Bee-Lover >

 

Stainless Steel Multi-toolGifts for the Adventurer

Check out these nifty gadgets and outdoor gear for your next adventure.

See all Gifts for the Adventurer >

 

 

Kids Fisherman VestGifts for the Young Explorer

Find great games, toys, puzzles, and apparel for the youngest Nature Heroes on your list.

See all Gifts for the Young Explorer >

 

Bird Corkscrew/Wine OpenerGifts for the Entertainer

Liven up the party with drinkware, home decor, recipes for “wildcrafted” cocktails, and so much more.

See all Gifts for the Entertainer >

Mass Audubon 32-oz Frog NalgeneGifts for the Mass Audubon Enthusiast

Show off your Nature Hero pride with hats, t-shirts, drinkware, and more.

See all gifts for the Mass Audubon Enthusiast

Bird and Moon Comics

Q&A With Rosemary Mosco of Bird and Moon Comics

Rosemary Mosco is a naturalist, science communicator, and cartoonist

Photo by Adrianne Mathiowetz

Rosemary Mosco is a naturalist, science communicator, and the brilliant cartoonist behind Bird and Moon science and nature cartoons. (She’s also a former member of Mass Audubon’s Marketing team, so you may recognize her name from past posts on this blog!)

We had the pleasure of chatting with Rosemary recently about her artwork, inspiration, and brand new book, Birding Is My Favorite Video Game: Cartoons about the Natural World from Bird and Moon, which shows the funny side of nature (yes, there is one!) and why comics and science are natural allies. Read on to hear more from Rosemary about making unloved creatures lovable, fashion tips from nature, and finding the humor in everything.

To meet Rosemary in person, join us at the Drumlin Farm Nature Center in Lincoln on Thursday, June 21, from 7:30–8:45 pm for an Author Talk & Book Signing. The event is free to Mass Audubon members ($5 for nonmembers) and copies of the book will be available for purchase through the Mass Audubon Shop.


How long have you been drawing comics and when did you start intertwining nature topics and humor?

I can’t remember when I started drawing comics, but I must have been pretty young. I had piles of newspaper comic books—lots of Bloom County, Cathy, For Better Or For Worse, Calvin and Hobbes. I’d draw my own strips about people, politics, and the embarrassing bands I liked to listen to.

I was always obsessed with nature, but I had an epiphany about blending nature and humor when I was at a nature-based summer camp. A guy from the local natural history museum came by to give a lecture, but he didn’t stand in front of us and talk. He put a huge drawing pad on the floor and we clustered around it. He talked about dinosaurs and drew pictures of them at the same time and did funny voices! I thought, “Wait, this is a career option?” His jokes helped me remember the important facts. I was hooked.

Where does your inspiration come from? How do you choose your subjects?

I spend time reading a lot of journal articles and field guides, I go to lectures, and I hike a lot. Nature is endlessly inspirational. The really hard part is coming up with jokes. I just sort of have to wait until I come across a funny idea. Sometimes it can take a long time!

I love drawing colorful birds, but I also try to talk about animals that people don’t like. I want to encourage people to love the unloved critters—bacteria that live on your skin, vomiting vultures, mucus-covered hagfish, stinky snakes, etc.

Birding is My Favorite Video Game by Rosemary MoscoYou use several different illustration styles in the book—where/when did you learn to draw and how did you develop your unique style(s)?

My comic output is pretty slow. I drew this book’s comics over the past 15 years! That’s a long time and my style has changed considerably. Most of that is because I’ve been experimenting. I’ve had training in writing but not in illustration. I’ve taken a few painting classes and other art classes over the years.

I just try different things and see what works. I’m always learning. I try to make each critter look relatable, with big eyes or smiles or familiar expressions. But I include important field marks, too.

How do you strike a balance between engaging meaningfully with a topic and avoiding difficult-to-understand jargon?

It’s a balancing act, and I feel like I’m always learning. A science writer once told me, “We tend to underestimate our readers’ intelligence and overestimate their vocabulary.”

Sometimes scientists and science writers use huge words, and when people don’t understand us, we assume it’s because they’re not smart. But people can understand any concept you throw at them if you use the right words. That’s why I try to avoid jargon unless I’m speaking to a scientific audience or I want people to learn a fun new word.

Do you have any favorites from the book?

I’m really proud of Fashion Tips From Nature. Animals have the weirdest appendages for courtship or protection from predators and I love the idea of people exploiting those styles—wearing a shirt that looks like poop, for example, so that nobody will approach them.

A few years ago, a museum in Ithaca called PRI’s Museum of the Earth did an exhibit on my comics, and they had a fashion corner where people could try on weird animal-inspired clothes. It was ridiculously fun.

Any advice for young naturalists looking to approach nature and science from a new angle?

Everyone has their own unique style and perspective. We’ve all got something special to offer. If you think about what you love and how to convey it, you’ve already taken the most important step!

Also, try to find the humor in everything. Nature is full of ups and downs, joys and heartbreaks. Laughter will help keep you going.


To learn more and have a few good laughs with Rosemary, join us at the Drumlin Farm Nature Center in Lincoln, on Thursday, June 21, from 7:30–8:45 pm for an Author Talk & Book Signing.

Piping plovers © Lia Vito

Reasons to ❤️ Moms (Feathered or Not)

As if you needed a reason to appreciate Mom this Mother’s Day, see how our animal friends illustrate the many wonderful traits Mom’s share.

Mom’s are…

Nurturing

Tree swallow © Larry Warfield

Brave

Wild Turkey © Scott Burnham

Comforting

Piping Plover © Lia Vito

Patient

American Robins © Kjeld Mahoney

Supportive

Loons © Michael Phillips

Protective

Wood Ducks © Larry Warfield

And, of course, loving.

Red Fox © Susan Ballard

Want to give a gift to make Mom proud?

Show her the love by making a gift to support nature and wildlife in her honor.

Mass Audubon T-Shirt

New Ways to Show Mass Audubon Pride

Mass Audubon Gear

Mass Audubon Gear

It’s easier than ever to show your true Mass Audubon colors! We’ve added all kinds of fun, new gear to our branded collection, including T-shirts, hats, drinkware, and more. Below are five of our favorite items or you can check out the entire collection.

And remember, every purchase from the Mass Audubon Shop goes directly to support our mission of protecting the nature and wildlife of Massachusetts.


Mass Audubon 32-oz Nalgene FrogMass Audubon 32-oz Nalgene Water Bottle

Keep hydrated and reduce your carbon footprint with Mass Audubon’s Spring Peeper reusable water bottle. This authentic Nalgene bottle is made from BPA-free plastic and features a peeper frog graphic—perfect for springtime adventure, or any season for that matter!

$17.00*

Also available: 16-oz Nalgene with Bee Graphic

 

Mass Audubon Frog T-Shirt Unisex GreyMass Audubon Spring Peeper T-Shirts & Youth Sweatshirts

Wear your nature hero heart on your figurative sleeve with the new Mass Audubon T-shirt, featuring the same peeper frog graphic as the 32-oz Nalgene.

Ladies V-Neck: $24.00*
Unisex Crew Neck: $22.00
Youth Sweatshirt: $24.00
Toddler Sweatshirt: $24.00

 

Mass Audubon Baseball Hat BlueMass Audubon Baseball Cap

Made of 100% cotton denim with an adjustable strap, this classic, comfy cap fits just right.

$16.00*

Also available: Mass Audubon Trucker Hat

 

 

Mass-Audubon-Pint-GlassMass Audubon Pint Glass

Toast the beauty of nature with this 16-oz glass, tastefully etched with the Mass Audubon logo. Dishwasher and microwave safe.

$14.95*

 

Mass Audubon Binoculars HarnessMass Audubon Binocular Harness

The perfect gift for the die-hard birder, this adjustable harness is designed to use your shoulders instead of your neck to support the weight of the binoculars.

$24.95*

 

 

 

 

 

*All prices listed are before application of the 10% Mass Audubon member discount.

Photo © Andrew McManus

Cardinals Are Red, Buntings Are Blue…

…so happy Valentine’s Day, from Mass Audubon to you!

If you’d like to send your nature-loving sweetheart a special valentine, we’ve got just the thing for you. Better yet, make a donation in honor of someone special and send a “Punny Valentine” card via email.

For more options, see our valentines from 2017, 2016, and 2015.

Valentine, we make a perfect pair.

Valentine, we just goat together.

On Valentine's Day, owl you need is love.

Valentine, you make my head spin.

Valentine, our love just comes naturally.

Top Facebook Posts of 2017

A look back at some of the top Facebook posts of the year! Don’t yet follow us on Facebook? Be sure to like our page and set to “see first” to never miss a post.

1. Snowy owl release

2. A sandpiper’s movie debut

*Looks like you can’t stream Piper anymore, but you can buy and watch it via Amazon or Apple.

3. Rare flycatcher spotted on webcam

4. Hiding in plain sight

5. Woodpecker sighting

6. Acorn people

7. Happy Owl-o-ween

8. Hummingbird in action

9. Cuteness Overload

10. Nevertheless, they persisted

Looking forward to another great year on Facebook!

Have You Had a Nature Fix Today?

At a recent gathering of Mass Audubon supporters, Florence Williams shared what she learned in writing The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.

Those in attendance were so inspired by her talk that we reached out to Florence afterward to ask her a few questions.

Florence Williams; Photo Mikaela Steinwedell

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always felt very connected to the natural world, and for most of my adult life I was fortunate to live in the Rocky Mountains with trails and wildlife all around. But five years ago, we moved to the heart of Washington, D.C. It made me think a lot about the connections I’d lost.

I wondered what the latest research had to say about how our surroundings affect our mood, cognition and health. I was also interested in how to reconnect to nature  within densely urban environments. Fortunately, there was a lot of fascinating new information out there.

What’s your first or most memorable introduction to nature?

I spent a lot of time in city parks as a little kid, but my introduction to wilder nature came from camping and canoeing with my dad. I remember being about 7 when he taught me how to jump across boulders in a creek. I remember the adventure of it, as well as the sparkling light and water, the sensory fulfillment. I was hooked as a river and water person.

What are a few of the most important health benefits one gets from connecting with nature?

It seems like the main factor is stress reduction. Being in pleasant natural environments—even for short periods of time—can lower our blood pressure and reduce stress hormones. Large-scale epidemiological studies show that people living near green space have significantly lower mortality rates, including lower rates for some cancers, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory distress. This was even after adjusting for income.

In fact, the lower your socio-economic status, the greater the health benefits. Nature appears to be a social leveler. So that’s pretty cool. And kids who spend more time in nature seem to have better emotional regulation, social skills and self confidence.

When researching the book, what surprised you the most?

I wasn’t surprised by the health and mood benefits of being outside, but I was surprised by some of the cognitive boosts and some of the social benefits, for example that people tend to behave more generously after experiencing the awe of the outdoors. Nature actually makes us more civilized.

How do you, personally, get your nature fix?

I had to learn how to find nature in the city and maximize its benefits. Nearly every day, I spend at least 30 minutes in a nearby city park when I walk my dog. We go out in all seasons, and I cultivate being mindful when I’m there. So I take the earbuds out and make an effort to look around at the birds, the buds on the trees, sometimes even feel the bark or smell some pine needles.

I enjoy watching the fractal patterns of ripples on the creeks in the parks or the concentric rings the feeding fish make in the canal near my house. I also walk my dog in the neighborhood every evening, where I like to check in on the moon or the sunset. And I think being outside at night helps re-set my circadian rhythms to prepare for a good night’s sleep. It’s not the deep, dark, Colorado night sky, but it’s something.

If a reader takes away just one thing from your book, what would you want it to be?

Go outside! Go often. Bring friends or not. Breathe.


You can purchase The Nature Fix online via the Audubon Shop, where all purchases go toward protecting the nature of Massachusetts.

A Great, Great Nature Hero Story

Back in the late 1800s Harriet Hemenway, along with her cousin Minna Hall, made a bold decision. After learning about the cruel way birds were killed to get their feathers for fashionable hats, she decided to save the birds. To do so, Hemenway and Hall founded Mass Audubon, the first Audubon Society, and sparked the modern-day environmental movement.

Harriet Hemenway

Hemenway is Mass Audubon’s original nature hero, so you can imagine our delight to learn that her great, great granddaughter Lila recently spent a week at Wachusett Meadow’s Nature Day Camp! As a preschooler, we hope Lila follows in Harriet’s footsteps and becomes a future nature hero!

Lila, Hemenway’s great, great granddaughter.

You can read more about Hemenway and Hall here. Have a Nature Hero story to share? Tell us about it in the comments!