Category Archives: Take 5

Female Northern Flicker © Gates Dupont

Take 5: Northern Flickers

Spotting a Northern Flicker can be truly spectacular. Vocal and conspicuous, flickers may be the most obvious woodpecker in the state of Massachusetts. They don’t visit bird feeders as frequently as their ubiquitous cousins, Downy Woodpeckers, but you may spot one in your backyard or at your birdbath, especially if your yard abuts a wooded area with a mix of trees and open ground. Unlike other woodpeckers, they often feed on the ground, even mixing together with flocks of ground-feeding songbirds, such as robins. Wherever you see one, this handsome bird certainly has unique plumage.

Their tan-brown bodies are patterned with black scalloping or spots, appearing almost polka dotted from a distance. In the East, the undersides of their wing and tail feathers are bright yellow (their Western counterparts have red flight feathers but you won’t see them around here). If you startle one from the ground, you may see a flash of white on its rump. They have a black bib across their breasts, a grey cap with a red nape, and the males sport black “mustache” markings beside their beaks.

These five photos of Northern Flickers were all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2018 contest is open now, so submit your spectacular wildlife and nature photography before the deadline of September 30.

Female Northern Flicker © Cheryl Rose

Female Northern Flicker © Cheryl Rose

Male Northern Flicker © Lee Millet

Male Northern Flicker © Lee Millet

Male Northern Flickers © Ken & Judy Proulx

Male Northern Flickers © Ken & Judy Proulx

Male Northern Flicker © Paul Flanders

Male Northern Flicker © Paul Flanders

Female Northern Flicker © Gates Dupont

Female Northern Flicker © Gates Dupont

Take 5: June 2018 Facebook Favorites

Over the course of the 2018 Photo Contest, we will be highlighting 5 photos from the previous month’s entries on Facebook and asking fans to select their favorite. This is just a fun way of sharing some of the amazing entries and doesn’t have to do with the official judging process.

You can pick your favorite by “liking” it on Facebook. Not a Facebook user? Let us know your top pick in the comments. And, there’s still time to enter the contest—the deadline is September 30!

Eastern-screech Owl © David Morris

© Diane Germani

Red-tailed Hawk © Joe Howell

Black-capped chickadee © Joel Sosa

© Shirley LeMay

Beach Scene © Jim McIntyre

Take 5: Beautiful Beach Sunsets

July is here…and it’s HOT! Lots of folks like to cool off by heading to the beach when summer temperatures soar. With “beach season” now in full swing, here are five gorgeous beach sunsets (or sunrises) to get you geared up for that beach life.

These photos were all submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Do you have a beautiful landscape photo you’d like to share? The 2018 contest is open now, so submit your nature photographs today!

Beach Scene © Kimberly Nyce

Beach Scene © Kimberly Nyce

Beach Scene © Alison Borrelli

Beach Scene © Alison Borrelli

Beach Scene © Sylvia Zarco

Beach Scene © Sylvia Zarco

Beach Scene © Emily Zollo

Beach Scene © Emily Zollo

Beach Scene © Jim McIntyre

Beach Scene © Jim McIntyre

Common Garter Snake © Catherine Luce

Take 5: Garter Snakes

The Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), one of the most commonly seen snakes in Massachusetts, is also the official state reptile. They sport long, yellow stripes down the length of their bodies, which are typically green, brown, or even black, and average about 20-22″ in length, but can grow up to 54″ long.

You may be startled to encounter one while out for a walk in the woods, basking in a patch of warm sunlight, but there’s no need to worry; garters are non-venomous and generally shy. More than likely, it will quickly dart away into the brush to escape. This quick retreat can make it difficult to differentiate a Common Garter Snake from the much rarer Eastern Ribbon Snake, which has additional burgundy stripes and a white eyespot, but if you’re unsure, garter snakes are much more common, and likely your best bet.

Garter snakes eat amphibians, fish, small mammals, earthworms, and sometimes insects. People often mistakenly call this snake a “garden snake,” because it can sometimes be seen in gardens. However, the name “garter snake” comes from the old fashion of wearing garters—strips of fabric that hold up stockings.

Here are five photos of our state reptile from past entrants to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2018 photo contest is now open, so submit your beautiful nature photography today!

Common Garter Snake © Carole Rosen

Common Garter Snake © Carole Rosen

Common Garter Snake © Evan Morley

Common Garter Snake © Evan Morley

Common Garter Snake © Dominic Poliseno

Common Garter Snake © Dominic Poliseno

Common Garter Snakes © Michael Onyon

Common Garter Snakes © Michael Onyon

Common Garter Snake © Catherine Luce

Common Garter Snake © Catherine Luce

Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit

Take 5: National Pollinator Week!

June 18–24 is National Pollinator Week and we’re celebrating these wonderful and critical creatures that provide a much needed and under-appreciated service to us and to the natural world. The vast majority of flowering plants on earth need help from pollinators to reproduce; we need pollinators for our food supply and to support healthy ecosystems.

Enjoy these five photos of pollinator butterflies you’re likely to see in Massachusetts and learn what you can do to support pollinators.


Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit

Monarch Butterfly © Rachel Bellenoit

 

Eastern Tailed Blue © Nanci St. George

Eastern Tailed Blue © Nanci St. George

 

Baltimore Checkerspot © Brendan Cramphorn

Baltimore Checkerspot © Brendan Cramphorn

 

Black Swallowtail © Amy Dahlberg Chu

Black Swallowtail © Amy Dahlberg Chu

 

Pearl Crescents © Kristin Foresto

Pearl Crescents © Kristin Foresto/Mass Audubon

Goldfinch at Birdbath © Paula Stephens

Take 5: Bath Time!

“Splish, splash I was takin’ a bath…”

Today’s Take 5 is all about birdbaths! Many folks are taking advantage of the warm weather this time of year to spruce up their yards; landscaping to attract birds and wildlife is a fun way to make your home more welcoming for both animals and people.

Birdbaths are a great addition to your yard for a variety of reasons: they attract birds to your yard that don’t typically eat seeds (meaning you might not see them visiting your feeders), they provide a supply of fresh water for drinking, bathing, and cooling off in hot weather, and—as you’ll see from some of the photos below—they can also attract a variety of other fascinating wildlife.

A few things to bear in mind: Most birds prefer water shallower than 2”, so if your birdbath is deeper you can make it more welcoming by adding stones or gravel to the bottom or providing a larger rock or branch to perch on. Window collisions are always a concern near buildings, so either place your birdbath well away from windows or close enough so they can’t pick up enough speed to injure themselves should they collide with the glass after taking flight.” Learn more about choosing a good birdbath (or making your own!) on our website. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some great information on safe placement of birdbaths and feeders.

The five photos below were all submitted to past years of our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest, which is now open for 2018! Send us your best shots of wildlife, plants, landscapes, and people in nature for consideration.

Eastern Bluebird at Birdbath © Pam Anderson

Eastern Bluebird at Birdbath © Pam Anderson

Raccoon at Birdbath © Lisa Gurney

Raccoon at Birdbath © Lisa Gurney

Northern Cardinal at Birdbath © Jack Bakker

Northern Cardinal at Birdbath © Jack Bakker

Albino Squirrel © Paula Sheehan Gaudet

Albino Squirrel © Paula Sheehan Gaudet

Goldfinch at Birdbath © Paula Stephens

Goldfinch at Birdbath © Paula Stephens

Eastern Box Turtle © Kevin McCarthy

Take 5: Turtle Takeover

There are 10 species of turtles in Massachusetts, ranging from the tiny bog turtle, which measures 3-4” long, to the prehistoric-looking snapping turtle, which can grow up to 19” long. In addition, five sea turtles visit our shores, occasionally becoming stranded on beaches. Although many turtle species live in the water, all must breathe air and lay eggs on land.

With so much variety, it’s hard not to love these impressive, ancient reptiles, so here are five photos of native turtle species from past entries to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Please remember, although it’s wonderful to observe and appreciate turtles from a distance, it’s usually best to leave them to their business, especially those species that are protected by state or federal endangered species acts. Learn more about what to do in various turtle encounters on our website.

Snapping Turtle © Jim Morelly

Snapping Turtle © Jim Morelly

Wood Turtle © Jim Morelly

Wood Turtle © Jim Morelly

Painted Turtle © John Aberhart

Painted Turtle © John Aberhart

Eastern Box Turtle © Kevin McCarthy

Eastern Box Turtle © Kevin McCarthy

Diamond-backed Terrapin © Alyse Roe

Diamond-backed Terrapin © Alyse Roe

Magnolia Warbler © Jim Sonia

Take 5: Wild for Warblers!

May is peak warbler migration season in Massachusetts, heralding the return of these small, often brightly colored songbirds. Each spring, thousands of warblers fly north from their southern winter homes to breed and raise their young.

Because warblers are quick and often elusive, they can be tricky to see in the field. Listen for the dawn chorus and watch treetops and shrubbery at sunrise and sunset for a flash of bright color and sweet song. The best way to learn to identify warblers is to go on bird walks with more experienced birders. Mass Audubon sanctuaries offer hundreds of bird-watching programs each year, so there’s sure to be one nearby that suits you.

Below are five photos of beautiful, bright warblers from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2018 contest opens soon, so keep those sharp birder’s eyes out for the announcement!

Chestnut-sided Warbler © Gregory S. Dysart

Chestnut-sided Warbler © Gregory S. Dysart

Yellow Warbler © Larry Warfield

Yellow Warbler © Larry Warfield

Magnolia Warbler © Jim Sonia

Magnolia Warbler © Jim Sonia

Blackburnian Warbler © Brian Lipson

Blackburnian Warbler © Brian Lipson

Prairie Warbler © Cameron Darnell

Prairie Warbler © Cameron Darnell

Take 5: Helpful Honeybees

Originally imported from Europe for their prized honey, beeswax, and pollination abilities, much of our honeybee population lives in beekeepers’ hives, and the rest build nests in tree cavities and in the eaves and walls of buildings. Each hive consists of a queen (who lays the eggs), female workers (who gather food and maintain the nest), and male drones (who mate with new queens).

You may see a swarm on a tree trunk or an exterior wall of a building. There’s no reason for alarm—the swarm will move on until it finds a new nesting spot. Stay indoors and watch this fascinating behavior from a window.

Bees provide invaluable services to ecosystems and sustain our food production systems, so it’s important for people to coexist with them. Be aware that if a swarm enters a building or nests in a location that conflicts with people, pest-control companies will not remove it. However, local beekeepers will usually be happy to collect it. For a list of beekeepers, contact your local pest-control company.

Here are five photos of helpful honeybees at work. Visit our website to learn more about Bees & Wasps or to find an upcoming program on Bees & Beekeeping to learn about bees, honey, and gardening for pollinators at one of our wildlife sanctuaries.

Honeybee © Susumu Kishihara

Honeybee © Susumu Kishihara

Honeybee © AnnMarie Lally

Honeybee © AnnMarie Lally

Honeybee © James Engberg

Honeybee © James Engberg

Honeybee © Daniel Sherman

Honeybee © Daniel Sherman

Honeybee © Sean Kent

Honeybee © Sean Kent

Take 5: Orange-loving Orioles

It may surprise you to learn that Baltimore Orioles are not named for the coastal city in Maryland that shares their namesake. The bold patterning of black and yellow-orange sported by male Baltimore Orioles reminded early observers of the black and gold heraldry of Lord Baltimore, hence their common name.

While females and young birds tend to be quite a bit drabber about the head and may show pale orange, yellow, or even simply tan below, male orioles have black heads, backs, and wings with the striking bright orange below that makes them so iconic.

Baltimore Orioles love fruit, and although they favor young woods or orchards at the forest’s edge, they can sometimes be enticed to visit backyard feeders by fresh fruit or berries, especially in May when they begin to return to the Northeast from their winter homes. In fact, special oriole feeders are often designed to hold halved oranges or dishes of fruit jelly.

Here are five photos of beautiful Baltimore Orioles from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. If you spot an oriole, be sure to report the sighting!

Baltimore Oriole © Eric Hayward

Baltimore Oriole © Eric Hayward

Baltimore Oriole © Bill Sooter

Baltimore Oriole © Bill Sooter

Baltimore Oriole © Anne Greene

Baltimore Oriole © Anne Greene

Baltimore Oriole © David Clapp

Baltimore Oriole © David Clapp

Baltimore Oriole © Julie Gagliardo

Baltimore Oriole © Julie Gagliardo