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
What on earth are caterpillars, anyway?
“Caterpillar” is a common name for the “larval” (immature) stage of insects of the order Lepidoptera, a.k.a. butterflies and moths.
Finding caterpillars in nature is not easy! The easiest way is to look on their preferred host plants. Monarch butterfly caterpillars, for example, prefer to eat milkweed plants, so that’s where you’re most likely to find them hanging out.
If you love butterflies and caterpillars, you’re in luck! The 10th Annual Butterfly Festival at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester is this Saturday, August 12. There will be activities for kids including face painting, an obstacle course, a story tent, and nature-themed arts and crafts, as well as a Caterpillar Lab with caterpillar expert Sam Jaffe.
To celebrate these cute, crawly creatures, here are five caterpillar images from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest. The 2017 photo contest is open now, so enter today!
Isabella Tiger Moth Caterpillar (a.k.a. “Wooly Bear”) © Callie Bucchino—Wooly Bears are unique for being commonly identified by their larval stage rather than their adult stage.
Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar © Brendan Cramphorn
Brown-hooded Owlet (Cucullia convexipennis) © Ron Verville
Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar © Ingrid Moncada
Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar © Sean Horton
Opossums may sometimes look fierce and unlovely (especially when “playing dead” to deter predators), but they’re actually very clean, non-destructive animals that tend to keep to themselves.
And even better, they LOVE ticks. As they wander the forest, they pick up ticks like most mammals do. But their excellent grooming habits, strong immune systems, and affinity for munching on the disease-prone parasites allow them to kill more than 95% of the ticks that try to feed on them. By some accounts, up to thousands per week!
To show our appreciation for opossums’ important role in protecting our health, take a look at five opossum photos from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest.
Have a great wildlife shot of your own? Enter the 2017 Photo Contest today!
Virginia Opossum © Simeon Wood
Virginia Opossum © Laurene Cogswell
Virginia Opossum © Paul Silvestri
Virginia Opossum © Chris Lang
Virginia Opossum © Jacqui_McGee
Summertime and the fishing is good! Check out these five photos (all submitted in past years to our annual photo contest) of birds chowing down on the catch of the day, including everything from fish to frogs to spiny crustaceans!
Have you taken a great photo of wildlife chowing down on a good meal? Submit your nature photos to the 2017 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest today!
Green Heron © John Harrison
Belted Kingfisher © Christopher Ciccone
Great Black-backed Gull © Mike Duffy
Heron (likely Great Blue) © Jennifer Atwood
Osprey © Richard Cuzner
June 20 is National Eagle Day: a day to celebrate our national bird and national animal, the bald eagle—a true conservation success story.
Between 1906 and 1989, no bald eagles bred in Massachusetts. Their decline was largely due to hunting and a pesticide called DDT that caused their egg shells to become thin and break. New laws were passed to protect eagles and DDT was banned in 1972.
Reintroduction programs like the one co-led by Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife successfully reestablished breeding populations. Now, the federal government has changed them from “endangered” to “threatened” status, and they fly free across the state.
Here are five photographs of the majestic bald eagle that were submitted to our annual photo contest. The 2017 Picture This: Your Great Outdoors Photo Contest is now open so submit your beautiful nature photography today!
Learn more about these amazing raptors with our Bald Eagle Quick Guide and in the Nature & Wildlife section of our website.
Bald Eagle © Joseph Cavanaugh
Bald Eagle in Flight © Ronald Grant
Bald Eagle © Sue Purdy
Bald Eagle in Flight © Ramkumar Subramanian
Bald Eagles © Nancy Hebert
Take a stroll along a residential street this time of year and you are almost sure to see the iconic white (and occasionally pink) blossoms of the flowering dogwood (Benthamidia florida). Flowering dogwoods are actually native to Massachusetts, existing here since before European colonization.
Unfortunately, finding native flowering dogwoods in the woods has become less and less common since the 1980’s, due to a fungal disease called “dogwood anthracnose”. As a result, many of the flowering dogwoods you’ll see planted in yards and along streets are disease-resistant cultivars of the native shrub.
A few other species of dogwood shrubs are native to Massachusetts—such as red-osier, silky, and alternate-leaved dogwood—and though not as showy as flowering dogwood, they are just as important for supporting healthy biodiversity because they provide habitat and food sources for many times more native wildlife species than non-native plants—particularly our beloved pollinators!
Here are five beautiful photos of flowering dogwoods to celebrate these exceptional shrubs. Once you know what to look for, you’re sure to see them everywhere! Keep an eye out for white or pink flowers with four wide petals, each with a characteristic “notch” in the end. Does it have pointy tips instead of notches? Then it’s likely a non-native Kousa dogwood (Benthamidia japonica).
Flowering Dogwood © Liz Froment
Dogwood Flower © Alan Yen
Pink Dogwood © Mackenzie Lannon
Flowering Dogwood © Mass Audubon
Flowering Dogwood © Mass Audubon