Bats, our only flying mammals, are truly remarkable animals. It’s too bad their unwarranted reputation has prevented many people from appreciating how beneficial and unique they are.
All bats found in Massachusetts are insectivores. They feed primarily at night, catching thousands of mosquitoes, moths, and other night-flying insects. It is estimated that an individual bat can eat 600 insects per hour!
Unfortunately, millions of bats have fallen victim to white-nose syndrome since it was first discovered in 2006. Find out what you can do to help.
Here are five photos of bats to celebrate these beneficial little beasts. Learn all about bat behavior, species, and anatomy, plus what you should do if you encounter a bat.
And in case you missed it, we featured a Bats By the Numbers in the fall 2017 issue of Explore member magazine.
Bat © David McChesney
Bat © Serah Rose Roth
Bat in Flight © Jeff Wills
Bat © Dave Shattuck
Bat © Justen Walker
Crows have long suffered under the reputation of being “bad.” Crows raid crops, frequently steal eggs and chicks from other bird nests, and have been known to steal shiny objects such as articles of jewelry from people.
Yet, these vocal black birds are among the most intelligent. Crow are said to be able to count (to a point) and they are also known to be very discriminating in their abilities to identify specific objects.
Here are five photos of crows* from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Notice a theme with our Take 5 posts? All this month, leading up to Halloween, we’re spotlighting wildlife that’s “spooky,” “creepy,” and goes “bump” in the night. BOO!
Crow © Michele Moore
A crow and a red-tailed hawk face off in mid-air © Jim Higgins
Crow © Matt Filosa
Crow © Steve DiGiandomenico
Bird silhouetted against the moon © Greg Saulmon*
*Okay, we’ll admit: this bird is not actually identifiable from just a silhouette, but it looks so perfectly spooky we had to include it anyway!
Snakes tend to get a bad rap, but they’re actually fascinating creatures that can help control pests like rodents and slugs thanks to their carnivorous diet. Plus, the vast majority of snakes that you’ll find in the Northeast are not dangerous.
In fact, of the 14 snake species found in Massachusetts, only two are venomous—the northern copperhead and timber rattlesnake—both of which are extremely rare (endangered, in fact) and they tend to avoid suburban and urban areas. Snakes prefer to avoid people, and will generally only bite when they are picked up, stepped on, or otherwise provoked. Fortunately, snakes do not carry diseases that are transmissible to humans.
Interestingly, snakes never stop growing, and every now and then, they must shed the skin that they’ve outgrown. Sometimes you can find these papery, scaly skins left behind on the trail—keep an eye out on your next hike!
Below are five photos of snakes that you might see in Massachusetts, submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Learn about all the native snake species on our website.
Eastern hognose snake © Dominic Casserly
Northern water snake © Brenda Bradley
Common garter snakes © Michael Onyon
Smooth green snake © Patrick Randall
Eastern hognose snake © Patrick Randall
‘Tis the season…the season of fall hawk migration, that is! Each year in late summer and early fall, thousands of hawks and their young move through the state from northern breeding grounds to wintering areas often far to the south. While the majority of broad-wing hawks depart by late September, now’s your chance to see the best variety of migrating hawks, as well as several species of falcons and late-moving ospreys, eagles, and northern harriers.
Enjoy these five fantastic photographs of hawks from past years of our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest and check out our How to Hawk Watch guide—then get out there and hawk watch like pro!
This year’s photo contest closes on September 30, so be sure to enter your nature photographs today!
Red-tailed Hawk © Nathan Goshgarian
Cooper’s Hawk © Lee Fortier
Red-shouldered Hawk © Richard Alvarnaz
Broad-winged Hawk © Joseph Cavanaugh
Cooper’s Hawk © Mary Anne Doyle
While we are amazed by many of the submissions to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, we are always particularly impressed with the photographers in the Under 18 age category.
These youth photographers demonstrate, year after year, that they have an eye for composition and a thirst to master the full range of photographic techniques. Sometimes a “fresh perspective” leads to dazzling creativity…and it’s hard to argue with the results! Here are five entries to past photo contests from some very talented young photographers.
Are you or someone you know a budding photographer? Enter our photo contest today for a chance to win some great prizes and be featured in Mass Audubon’s Explore member newsletter!
Photo by Joel Eckerson, 2015 Photo Contest Winner in “Birds – Under 18”
Photo by Nick Sarfaty Jackson, 2013 Photo Contest Winner in “Landscapes – Under 18”
Photo by Davey Walters, 2015 Photo Contest Winner in “Mammals – Under 18”
Photo by Brett Melican, 2015 Photo Contest Winner in “Other Wildlife – Under 18”
Photo by Jackson Kealey, 2013 Photo Contest Winner in “People – Under 18”
Each month, as part of our Photo Contest, we select 5 images from the previous month’s entries for you to pick as your favorite on Facebook. All you need to do is click an image and “like” it. Not on Facebook? Tell us your favorite in the comments below.
Have a great shot of your own? The deadline to enter is September 30. Details >
© Dennis Durette
© Rachel Bellenoit
© Julie Blue
© Melena Ward
© Don Bullens
Ever year, from April through October, folks head out into the open seas for a chance to see a whale or two. And fortunately for us, many have their cameras in hand.
Check out 5 fantastic shots of humpback whales from past editions of our Picture This photo contest. The 2017 contest is now in its final month, so enter your wildlife and nature photographs today!
© Sherri Vanden Akker
© James Duffy
© Maureen Duffy
© Jennifer Childs
© Victoria Bettuelli
Shy, secretive salamanders can be hard to find. But on rainy days, hikers and forest walkers may just spot a particular orange amphibian crawling through leaf litter—and it’s not the least bit bashful!
The creature commonly called the red or orange “eft” is actually the Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in the second of its three lifecycle phases. It begins as a fully aquatic creature with gills, then enters the “eft” stage where it is most commonly encountered by hikers due to its bright red or orange skin. Eventually, it will return to the water as an adult and assume a more demure yellow and green color palette.
Efts aren’t just showing off with their bright, flashy colors. Their orange skin sends a signal to would-be predators: “Warning! Extremely poisonous!” So while they seem to stick out like a sore thumb on the forest floor, they are far from defenseless. Learn more about salamander behavior and life cycles on our website.
Here are five photos of red efts from past editions of our Picture This photo contest. The 2017 contest is open now, so enter your wildlife and nature photographs today!
Eastern Newt/Red Eft © Dawn Puliafico
Eastern Newt/Red Eft © Roberta Dell Anno
Eastern Newt/Red Eft © Patricia Wolfe
Eastern Newt/Red Eft © Ladislav Honsa
Eastern Newt/Red Eft © Amy Harley
Aerodynamic and graceful, a tree swallow is most often seen in the sky as it gleans insects on the wing. It is about the size of a chickadee, and is an iridescent blue above and white below. Tree swallows are often seen in small flocks foraging over ponds or fields, chittering back and forth.
Here are five photos of tree swallows from past years’ photo contests. If you have a great shot of your own, we’d love to see it! Enter today at massaudubon.org/picturethis.
2013 Photo Contest Entry © Ann Marie Lally
2016 Photo Contest Entry © Myer Bornstein
2013 Photo Contest Entry © Lisa Gurney
2013 Photo Contest Entry © Michael Ross
2016 Photo Contest Entry © Michael Rossacci
We love all of the categories in the Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest—landscapes, wildlife, plants & fungi—but it’s the People in Nature category that gets us every time.
Here at Mass Audubon, our mission is to protect the nature of Massachusetts both for wildlife and for people. So it’s beautiful scenes of people getting outdoors and enjoying nature that bring us the most joy.
Here are five photos of folks enjoying the outdoors from past years’ photo contests. If you have a great shot of your own, we’d love to see it! Enter today at massaudubon.org/picturethis.
© Rosemary Sampson
© Lisa Roberts
© Glenn Rifkin
© Colleen Bruso
© Benita Ross