It’s always a treat to spot the iconic pileated woodpecker (unless, of course, you catch one drilling into the side of your house). With their striking black and white plumage and flaming red crests, they are almost prehistoric-looking, like a crow-sided modern pterodactyl.
Woodpeckers have several unique adaptations. Their feet have two toes pointing forward and two pointing rearward with sharp pointed claws that enable them to scale tree trunks and other vertical surfaces to look for food and shelter. Their straight pointed bills and reinforced skulls help them to absorb the constant shock of pecking, chiseling, drilling, and drumming as they hunt for insects (especially carpenter ants) to eat. Their stiff tail feathers act as props (like a third leg) when they climb.
It’s not an everyday occurrence to see a pileated woodpecker, so here are five photos of these remarkable birds from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest for you to enjoy. Submissions for the 2018 photo contest will open in early summer, so keep an eye out!
Pileated Woodpecker © Lee Millet
Pileated Woodpeckers © Jacob Mosser
Pileated Woodpecker © Kimberlee Bertolino
Pileated Woodpecker © Mary Jeanne Tash
Pileated Woodpecker © Davey Walters
Pileated Woodpecker © Dan Prima
Snowstorms can cause headaches, but also a beautiful backdrop for photography. As you make preparations for the next nor’easter coming our way, enjoy 5 photos of birds in snow from past photo contests and read up on how birds prepare for storms.
Eastern bluebirds © Cheryl Rose
Blue jay © Sarah Keates
House finch © Melissa Shelley
Black-capped chickadee © Matthew Magann
Northern cardinal © Ellen Dehm
Have you ever watched a dog or cat contort itself to get at a particularly bothersome itch? Did you feel a little envious? Everyone experiences the occasional impossible-to-reach itch and it can feel like you’d do anything to get to it. Now imagine your entire body is covered by thick fur or feathers. YIKES.
This week, we’re commiserating with our furry and finely feathered friends who were captured in the act of scratching, preening, or picking at some annoyance or another by one of the photographers from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Check out the winners of the 2017 photo contest on our website and follow us on Facebook to find out when the 2018 contest opens this summer.
Eastern Cottontail © Susumu Kishihara
Mallard © Kimberlee Bertolino
Red Squirrel © Janice Koskey
Tree Swallow © Tammy Vezina
Herring Gull © Elizabeth Brooke
Let’s play “Caption That Photo”! Below are five photos of animals making funny faces or poses, submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. What hilarious captions can you come up with?
Seal © Jazi Charbit
Woodchuck © Rob Smiley
Baby green heron © Wayne Wetherbee
Double-crested cormorant © Richard Kramer
Raccoon © Ellen Kawadler
Order up! If you think French fries are fast food, you should see how fast-moving some of the meals our wildlife friends enjoy are. Even if the meal itself is slow, many animals have to be fast to outrun predators and beat their competitors to the buffet.
Here are five wildlife “diners” who are snagging a quick meal from past years of our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors. If you have a great photo of wildlife chowing down, the contest will open up for submissions in early summer 2018. Bon Appetit!
Cedar Waxwing © Anne Greene
North American River Otter © Joseph Cavanaugh
Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron © Kimberlee Bertolino
Ruddy Turnstone © Mary Keleher
Bobolink at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary © Marie Pelletier
Knock, knock! Anybody home? We’ll spare you the punny knock-knock jokes, but you won’t want to miss out on the Birdhouse Sale happening now in the Audubon Shop!
The entire month of February, Mass Audubon members receive 20% off birdhouses (aka nest boxes) in the Audubon Shop. This sale is in-store only, so be sure to drop by the shop at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln before March 1, 2018.
In the meantime, enjoy these five photos of birds who have made themselves at home in some lovely neighborhood nest boxes, courtesy of our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.
Eastern Screech Owl © Kevin McCarthy
Eastern Bluebird at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary © Mark Grundstrom
Carolina Wren © Barbara Lawrence
Barn Owl at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary © Brian Rusnica
Tree Swallow © Will Sweet
There are few sights as breathtaking and awesome as a full, bright moon rising through the sky. The January 31 full moon is extra special: not only is it a Blue Moon (a second full moon in the same month—the first fell on January 2), but just before sunrise, if the weather is clear, we should be able to see a partial (penumbral) lunar eclipse.
The term “blue moon” only came into common usage in the 1940’s. On average, a Blue Moon only occurs every 30 months, but 2018 is not an average year. Following a February completely devoid of full moons, March will see two—on March 1 and 31—meaning we will have two blue moons in two months!
In honor of this fluke of the calendar, here are five beautiful photographs of the moon that have been submitted to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest over the years. Learn more about the Blue Moon on our blog. To really get out and enjoy the January Blue Moon, find a night hike program at a sanctuary near you for a moonlit adventure.
Moon Over Water © Rod Delano
Moon Close-Up © Mackenzie Lannon
Moon © Alex Sullivan
Moon Landscape © Judith Keneman
Moon and Herring Gulls © Lucy Loomis
Backyard bird feeders can be a great source of joy and entertainment, especially in the grey winter months when the pop of red from a cardinal’s plumage can bring some welcome color to the scenery and the chatty antics of a small flock of finches fighting over feeder perches can be surprisingly entertaining.
Here are five photos from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest of birds you are likely to see at your feeder this winter. For more, see our list of common winter birds in Massachusetts.
Carolina wrens © Julie McDevitt
Black-capped chickadee © Francine Wilson
House Finch © Melissa Shelley
Northern cardinal © Rob Smiley
Red-bellied woodpecker © John Jack Mohr
Eastern bluebirds were once rare in Massachusetts during the winter, but in recent years more and more of them are present during the cold months. Banish the winter blues with these portraits from our Photo Contest, and read more about bluebirds.
2013 Photo Contest Entry © Norman Corliss
2013 Photo Contest Entry © Jeff Wills
2012 Photo Contest Entry © Rhonda Wiles
2014 Photo Contest Entry © Dawn Puliafico
2014 Photo Contest Entry © Linda Sullivan
This post originally appeared January 2015.
If you’re struggling to come up with good resolutions for the new year, perhaps try taking a tip from nature. Here are photos from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest of some wildlife that wants to inspire you to live your best life in 2018.
Want more inspiration for making the most of the new year ahead? Visit massaudubon.org/resolutions for our handy guide!
1. Resolve to eat more fruits and veggies.
Eastern Chipmunk © Jill Skibel
They’ll help keep you strong and healthy!
2. Resolve to recycle more.
Gray Squirrel © Eileen Leary
Nature needs our help, so check out our guide for more tips on living sustainably.
3. Resolve to play more.
Red Fox Kits © Janet MacCausland
It’s good for the body, heart, and mind.
4. Resolve to stop and smell the flowers.
Eastern Chipmunk © Tracy Myers
Living in the present keeps you grounded.
5. Resolve not to bite off more than you can chew.
Least Tern Chick © Sandy Selesky
Because, after all, life is all about balance…
Female Mallard Duck © Solinka Molinero