Large wind turbines in the ocean.

News: Massachusetts Releases Historic Request for Offshore Wind Proposals

Exciting news: Massachusetts has just requested proposals for new offshore wind turbine developments that could produce up to 25% of our state’s electricity. Wind energy developers will now be able to submit proposals to build large arrays of wind turbines in the waters off of the Massachusetts Coast.  

Most importantly, these proposals include requirements for developers to monitor and mitigate the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife and to build the most efficient system of transmission lines possible—both crucial measures for the protection of nature. 

Mass Audubon enthusiastically supports offshore wind energy projects, but these developments must, and can, be built with an ironclad commitment to protecting nature and biodiversity.

Large wind turbines in the ocean.
Flickr © Andy Dingley

Climate Change and Massachusetts Wildlife 

Climate change is by far the greatest threat to the birds and wildlife of Massachusetts. It causes sea level rise and stronger ocean storms which wreak havoc on coastal bird habitats, drowning out nesting and foraging areas for species such as the federally protected Roseate Tern and Piping Plover. Warmer temperatures also alter the length of seasons, interrupting traditional migration patterns. All the birds, wildlife, and coastal ecosystems we cherish in Massachusetts are directly threatened by climate change. 

To slow the progress of climate change, Massachusetts must shift its energy system away from the fossil fuels that are emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The state has a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2025. It simply won’t be possible to reach that goal without large-scale wind energy development. 

Wind energy projects—and especially offshore wind energy projects that take advantage of higher-speed ocean wind—are among the most cost-effective clean energy sources we have available. A few large-scale wind developments off our coast could power a quarter of the state. No other energy technology offers that kind of scale.

Mass Audubon’s Advocacy for Wildlife-Friendly Wind Development 

While Massachusetts needs offshore wind energy to help slow the climate crisis that is destroying our nature and wildlife, these developments must not come at the expense of our birds and wildlife. 

Compared to previous wind energy proposals in Massachusetts, the state’s latest proposal includes stronger requirements for wind developers to monitor and mitigate any harm to nature and wildlife that their projects cause.  

Additionally, we applaud the Commonwealth’s commitment to planning an efficient system of transmission lines connecting wind developments to the power grid. New transmission lines often impact forests and other habitats and can harm nearby birds and wildlife, so we must work to build new clean energy infrastructure with as light a footprint as possible.  

Both of these conservation provisions reflect Mass Audubon’s advocacy in action over the last several years. 

Our wildlife experts help monitor the impacts of wind energy development and are a critical voice on the state’s habitat advisory group. We will work to ensure that wind energy developers continue engaging with this group to make their projects as wildlife-friendly as possible. We’ll also continue to push for developers to provide the full funding needed to conduct wildlife monitoring and mitigation.  

The choice before us is not whether to pursue offshore wind or protect our iconic wildlife. We must do both. We’re optimistic that Massachusetts is up to the task.

How You Can Help Us Advocate for Wildlife-Friendly Wind Energy  

Learn more about our advocacy for responsible wind energy development

To get involved in the fight for responsible wind energy development, become a Climate Champion

Birders in a grassy field looking off in the distance.

How to Make the Most of the 40th Anniversary of Bird-a-thon   

Bird-a-thon is Mass Audubon’s largest annual fundraising event, and this year is the 40th anniversary. Birders from across the state join teams to fundraise and take part in competitions, programs, and more as a celebration of spring. The event this May will be over Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13. Join a team and join the fun! 

Competitive Birding

A group of birders in a meadow looking off into the distance at the trees.

The highlight of Bird-a-thon for many is the birding competition that takes place over 24 hours from 6 pm on Friday, May 12, to 6 pm on Saturday May 13. Over the course of the day, 13 teams compete against one another to see who can spot the most species of birds. At the conclusion of the 24 hours awards are given out to teams for spotting the most birds overall, the most from one stationary location, and to the team who spots the highest percentage of birds possibly spotted within a given county, amongst other awards.  

To learn more about competitive birding during Bird-a-thon and to explore joining a team check out the 2023 Bird-a-thon page.  

Nature Activity Points 

Two American Goldfinches standing at a bird feeder.
American Goldfinch

If you are not interested in competitive birding but are still craving competition Bird-a-thon weekend, join a team and take part in earning nature activity points. These points are separate from the points that those taking part in competitive birding earn, and the two teams that amass the most nature activity points will earn an award.  

Activity points can be earned in a variety of ways, from sharing a picture of a bird you spotted on social media to drawing a picture of a bird to filling up your birdfeeder. Points can also be earned by completing fun activity sheets created just for Bird-a-thon! These include a bird word search, nature coloring pages, a scavenger hunt, a bird match-up quiz, and more. To explore all the nature activities and access the downloadable activity worksheets, check out the Bird-a-thon 2023 Nature Activity Points Page! 

Take a Program

Yellow bird in the trees with white flowers.
Yellow Warbler © Anthony Lischio

Connect with nature and expand your knowledge of the birds of Massachusetts on a birding program. Start your weekend off with a Spring Bird Walk at Boston Nature Center in Mattapan on Friday evening, May 12, focused on spring migratory birds that reside in urban habitats.  

Visit Moose Hill in Sharon on Saturday morning, May 13, to soak in the early morning sun as you walk the trails during peak warbler migration and identify birds by sight and sound with the help of a naturalist. 

 And spend your Saturday evening at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton learning how to Bird By Ear on a walk led by former artist-in-residence at Mass Audubon, Barry Van Dusen.

Visit a Wildlife Sanctuary  

Green field full vegetation with green trees in the distance.

May in Massachusetts is the perfect time to get outside and explore. If you are not interested in nature activity points or programs, spend the day visiting one of Mass Audubon’s more than 60 sanctuaries around the state for a hike and to look for birds and other wildlife. 

For beautiful coastal views, a chance to walk on the beach, and to spot coastal birds, visit Allens Pond in South Dartmouth or Long Pasture in Barnstable. If you are looking for idyllic meadows with the chance to see farm animals and birds that frequent meadow habitats, visit Wachusett Meadow in Princeton or Drumlin Farm in Lincoln.  

And if you are in search of a more rugged hike with trails that will take you through woodlands as you look and listen for forest birds, take a trip to Moose Hill in Sharon or Pleasant Valley in Lenox.