Tag Archives: birdathon

Cedar Waxwing © Stephen Kent

A Sweet Bird-a-thon Victory

The rain may have dampened their scopes, but definitely not their spirits. Congratulations to these winning teams!

Cedar Waxwing © Stephen Kent

With an impressive 237 species, the winner of the Brewster Cup (most species recorded statewide) is: Team Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary

This year’s Forbush Award winner (2nd place in species recorded statewide) is back in the winner’s circle with 231 species: Team Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary

And, we are thrilled to welcome our 2018 County Cup winner to the winners’ circle (highest percentage of county par value): Team Arcadia and the Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries (Hampshire County, 152/140, 109%)

Stay tuned for a master list of species recorded during Bird-a-thon 2018. Want to contribute to the Bird-a-thon 2018 photo album? Email us your photos. View the Album→

The Competition Continues

The birding may be over, but you still have time to help your favorite team raise important funds. Fundraising totals, awards, and prizes for teams and individuals are announced in mid-June. Donate→

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Presenting Sponsor: Camosse Masonry Supply

Lead Sponsor: Eversource

Media Sponsor: 90.9 WBUR
Supporting Sponsor: ARE Demo & Excavation, Inc.
Community Sponsors: Dune Jewelry, MetLife, Lennox & Harvey, Lauring Construction


Some Heroes Wear Binoculars

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear heavy binoculars that they “borrowed” from their father 20 years ago–or carry scopes around that are twice their size–or proudly display a well-worn Bird-a-thon t-shirt.

This past weekend, Bird-a-thon teams fanned out across the state to focus their eyes, ears, and lenses on nature. And now that the birding is done, we wanted to take a moment to thank all of our Bird-a-thon participants and supporters.

Bird-a-thon, is not only an opportunity to focus on nature, but also a celebration of the hard work team members have done to raise essential funds for Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries and programs.

The funds raised in conjunction with this one day event will impact the work of Mass Audubon for the coming year and beyond. Bird-a-thon funds are used to:

  • Provide program materials for campers, students, and aspiring naturalists of all ages–to build communities that value, appreciate, and protect nature.
  • Support the work of dedicated staff with expertise in community engagement and advocacy–allowing for quick responses to environmental challenges and opportunities.
  • Manage land and wildlife based on the most current science available–keeping Mass Audubon sanctuaries healthy and vibrant for this and future generations.

And while the birding portion of the event may be over, there is still time to make an impact—with or without a cape.

Be a hero: support your favorite team >

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Presenting Sponsor: Camosse Masonry Supply
Lead Sponsor: Eversource
Media Sponsor: 90.9 WBUR
Supporting Sponsor: ARE Demo & Excavation, Inc.
Community Sponsors: Dune Jewelry, MetLife, Lennox & Harvey, Lauring Construction

A Bird-a-thon First

Back in 2013, Owen Cunningham considered himself pretty knowledgeable about nature. But when he decided to tag along with Moose Hill team during Bird-a-thon he realized how much there was to learn.

Owen and his mother, Kathleen Guilday

“If you would have asked me then how many species of bird I thought were native to our state I might have guessed around 50,” he said. “But Mass Audubon counted 270 different species in 24 hours that year! I could not believe how little I knew of the native wildlife I had spent my whole life around. From that day, on I began keeping my own list to help me appreciate all these species I had been taking for granted.”

This year, he is doing more than just keeping a list. As the new property manager for the Museum of American Bird Art (MABA) in Canton, he inspired the sanctuary to participate in the fundraising and birding competition for the very first time.

The team has a modest goal of raising $3,000 to help support the 121 acres of conservation land for people, birds, and other native Massachusetts species as well as MABA’s expanding art collection and exhibitions, which are wonderful reminders of “how inspiring and beautiful our natural world is so long as we work to protect it.”

Check back after May 13 to see just how many species Owen and his teammates see!

Get Involved

Want to get more involved in Bird-a-thon? Join a team to create a fundraising page and/or contact a team captain to join a birding roster. Can’t participate in Bird-a-thon this year? Consider donating to a sanctuary or program team.

Thank You to our Bird-a-thon Sponsors

Lead Sponsor: Standard Auto
Support Sponsor: AmeriPride Services
Community Sponsor: MetLife

Coder, Artist, and Bird-a-thon Booster

This is Kaiden.

He’s 9 years old and a booster for Arcadia’s Bird-a-thon team. He’s hoping to raise $500 to help Arcadia manage its grassland and forests to help local wildlife like the bobolink, the kestrel, and the eastern meadowlark.

“I feel happy when I feel close to all the different birds chirping, and all this life. Animals are just like people. They have lives, go about their daily business, raise families, and make homes,” he wrote on his fundraising page. “Each needs a special place to do these things. Mass Audubon is helping make that possible, and I am happy to be helping too.”

To help spread the word, Kaiden coded his very own web-app called a Day at Arcadia (click the grass if it gets too tall and a special mower will come to assist you), drew an eastern meadowlark, and starred in a video that explains just what it means to be a Bird-a-thon booster.

Want to Join Kaiden?

Get involved in Bird-a-thon by joining a team to create a fundraising page and/or contacting a team captain to join a birding roster. Can’t participate this year? Consider donating to a sanctuary or program team.

Thank You to our Bird-a-thon Sponsors

Lead Sponsor: Standard Auto
Support Sponsor: AmeriPride Services
Community Sponsor: MetLife

Wellfleet’s Not-so-Lame Ducks #mabirdathon

The Wellfleet Lame Ducks, part of the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Bird-a-thon team, are an accomplished fundraising force of beginner and intermediate birders. Hear from team leader, Peggy Sagan (pictured far right), about how the flock formed.

The idea for the Lame Ducks was hatched in 2011. At that time, there were several extraordinary women who were committed to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary but didn’t consider themselves “real” birders.

Wellfleet Bay’s special events coordinator thought “What if we offer these women the opportunity to become better birders? Would they commit to fundraising for Bird-a-thon?” The answer, she soon found out, was a resounding yes.

Since then, Sanctuary Director Bob Prescott and other sanctuary staff have led the “Lame Ducks” (as the team was named) on a series of birding outings each spring to increase their bird knowledge and identification skills.

In return, what began as a small, laid-back clutch of mixed-ability birders has fledged into a fundraising powerhouse, regularly contributing one-third to one-half of Wellfleet’s Bird-a-thon total. And along the way, the flock has become just as competitive about their birding ability and species counts as they are about their fundraising prowess.

Although the individual lame ducks have come and gone as families relocate and personal situations change, most of the original members are still birding and fundraising for Wellfleet’s Bird-a-thon team and we are so grateful for their participation.

The 2017 Lame Ducks include: Ann Allan*, Josie Anderson, Marie Broudy, Janet Drohan*, Janet Golan, Mary O’Neil, Patty Shannon, Christine Shreves, Janet Sisterson*, & Lynn Southey (*original member)

Get Involved

Want to get more involved in Bird-a-thon? Join a team to create a fundraising page and/or contact a team captain to join a birding roster. Can’t participate in Bird-a-thon this year? Consider donating to a sanctuary or program team.

Thank You to our Bird-a-thon Sponsors

Lead Sponsor: Standard Auto
Support Sponsor: AmeriPride Services
Community Sponsor: MetLife

100 Great Wildlife Sanctuary Birding Spots

instagram640sqBird-a-thon, Mass Audubon’s annual birding competition takes place on May 13-14. Teams of birders will attempt to see (or hear) the most species in a 24-hour time span. At the same time, birders and “Bird-a-thon Boosters” are raising money to support wildlife sanctuaries and programs.

To kick-off Bird-a-thon and celebrate 100 Years of Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries, we compiled 100 great spots to bird on our wildlife sanctuaries. While we can’t make any promises, we offer a sampling of birds you may see at each location.

Love to bird or visit a sanctuary? Consider donating to a sanctuary team in honor of the 100th anniversary.

Greater Boston

Belted kingfishers © Susan Wellington

Belted kingfishers © Susan Wellington

Habitat Education Center, Belmont

  1. Along the Meadow Trail near the community garden: Nesting Cooper’s Hawk, woodpeckers
  2. Turtle Pond: Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, migrating warbler, American Robin, Common Grackle, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee.
  3. Highland Farm Meadow: Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, Red-tailed Hawk, occasional Eastern Kingbird
  4. Weeks Meadow: Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, Red-tailed Hawk

Drumlin Farm, Lincoln

  1. Feeders and Ice Pond area adjacent to the visitor’s parking lot: Wild Turkey, woodpeckers songbirds at feeders; warblers, Eastern Phoebe by the Ice Pond
  2. Boyce Field: Killdeer, Eastern Bluebird, sparrows, swallows
  3. Top of the drumlin: Hawks (resident Red-tails, migrants)
  4. Deer Pen Wildlife Blind: Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, woodpeckers, finches
  5. Little red bridge behind the Audubon Shop: Songbirds

Boston Nature Center, Mattapan

  1. Overlook off the Fox Trail: Red-winged Blackbird, Warbling Vireo, occasional Northern Parula
  2. Meadows across from food forest: Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, occasional Wilson’s Snipe in migration
  3. Trees near Clark Cooper Community Gardens area: Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Song Sparrow
  4. Oak trees at main entrance: Roosting Wild Turkey, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow Warbler
  5. Snail Trail: Gray Catbird, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird

Broadmoor, Natick

  1. Field in front of Nature Center: Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebird
  2. Boardwalk (Accessible Trail): Mallard, Wood Duck, Great Blue Heron
  3. Orchard Trail through fields: Blue-winged Warbler, Red-tailed Hawk, Wild Turkey
  4. Charles River Trail: Wood Peewee, Wood Thrush, Canada Goose
  5. Little Farm Pond trails: Osprey, Pileated Woodpecker

Waseeka, Hopkinton

  1. Earthen Dam at the end of the Cart Path: Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Kingfisher
  2. Sassafras Trail: Pileated Woodpecker, Brown Creeper
  3. Parking area: Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-capped Chickadee

South of Boston

Bobolink via Richard Johnson

Daniel Webster, Marshfield

  1. Observation Platform on Fox Hill: Osprey, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel
  2. Wildlife Observation Blinds overlooking the Wet Panne: Wilson’s Snipe, Greater Yellowleg (spring), Wood Duck
  3. Purple Martin Gourds on the Pond Loop Trail: Purple Martin
  4. Fox Hill Trail fields: Nesting Bobolink,Tree Swallow
  5. River Walk Trail: White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow

North River, Marshfield

  1. Hannah Eames Trail: Migrating warblers
  2. Observation Platform on North River: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Willet, herons
  3. Field from River Loop trail: Eastern Bluebird, Osprey, Tree Swallow
  4. Bird Garden at Nature Center: American Goldfinch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  5. Fern Loop (Accessible Trail): Wood Thrush, Ovenbird

Stony Brook, Norfolk

  1. In front of the Nature Center looking over field to south: swallows, Purple Martin, Eastern Bluebird, raptors (e.g., Red-tailed Hawk)
  2. Along trail leading west from Nature Center during migration: Warblers
  3. First spillway along causeway, especially in early mornings during migration: Warblers, vireos, waterfowl
  4. Old mill site below the main spillway: Songbirds during migration, plus woodpeckers, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay
  5. Forest and ponds across the street from the Nature Center: Woodland birds such as woodpeckers of all kinds, Pine Warbler, Great-crested Flycatcher

Moose Hill, Sharon

  1. Red maple swamp along the Billings Boardwalk on Billings Farm Loop: Wood Thrush, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Veery
  2. Pepperbush/Vernal Pool Loop: Brown Creeper, Barred Owl, Northern Waterthrush (May through August)
  3. Farm Fields directly across from Moose Hill CSA Barn: Sparrows, American Pipit (fall)
  4. Pine/Ovenbird/Kettle Trail Loop: Scarlet Tanager, Hermit Thrush (summer)
  5. Open Field just through the rock wall along the Kettle Trail: Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, Broad-winged Hawk, Great Blue Heron

Allens Pond, South Dartmouth/Westport

  1. Stone bench at edge of marsh along Quansett Trail not far from Field Station: Terns, Seaside Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sparrow, Osprey, Willow Flycatcher
  2. Quansett Trail at the far edge of a newly cleared area just as it heads around a stone wall: Blue-winged Warbler, White-eyed Vireos, American Woodcock (scarce), Yellow-breasted Chat (rare)
  3. Middle of the fields along the Grassland Loop: Bobolink, assorted sparrows, warblers
  4. Beach overlooking ocean along the Beach Loop: Cormorants, scoters, terns, Piping Plover, grebes, Glossy Ibis, Whimbrel
  5. Stone Barn farm yard and fields: Eastern Bluebird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (migration), owls, hawks
  6. Salt pannes southeast of Field Station: shorebirds, wading birds, Northern Harrier, occasional Clapper or Virginia rails, American Kestrel

Great Neck, Wareham

  1. Huckleberry Loop: Brown Creeper, Downy Woodpecker

Oak Knoll, Attleboro

  1. Field at the entrance: Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue Jay
  2. Freshwater Marsh behind the solar panels: Red-winged Blackbird, Canada Goose, ducks
  3. Oak Forest along the Puddingstone Loop Trail: Songbirds, woodpeckers, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk
  4. Bridge and stream: Barred Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Cooper’s Hawk, songbirds
  5. Around Lake Talaquega: Waterfowl, songbirds

North of Boston

Eastern Kingbird via Richard Johnson

Eastern Kingbird via Richard Johnson

Ipswich River, Topsfield

  1. Fields on Bradstreet Hill: Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, Blue-winged Warbler, Red-tailed Hawk
  2. Bunker Meadow Trail: Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Great Blue Heron
  3. South Esker Trail: Marsh Wren, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager
  4. Stone Bridge Trail: Warbling Vireo, Red-winged Blackbird, Swamp Sparrow
  5. Rookery Loop: Eastern Kingbird, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler

Joppa Flats, Newburyport

  1. From the parking lot: Ring-necked Pheasant, Willow Flycatcher
  2. Merrimack River behind the building: Brant, Long-tailed Duck, Bald Eagle

Rough Meadows, Rowley

    1. Thickets along trails: Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Barred Owl
    2. Salt Marsh: Saltmarsh Sparrow, Willet

Endicott, Wenham

      1. Along Ellice Endicott Trail: Pileated Woodpecker, Great Horned Owl, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Black-throated Green Warbler, Pine Warbler

Cape and Islands

Osprey via Richard Johnson

Osprey via Richard Johnson

Wellfleet Bay, South Wellfleet

      1. Silver Spring Trail: migrating warblers
      2. On the boardwalk at sunset: Whimbrel, Tree Swallow
      3. Goose Pond: shorebirds, herons, egrets
      4. Tidal Flats: Migrating shorebirds, Semipalmated Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sanderling

Long Pasture, Barnstable

      1. Around bird feeders at Visitor Center: Songbirds
      2. Open fields: Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, Song Sparrow
      3. Beach: Shorebirds, raptors

Ashumet Holly, East Falmouth

      1. Around the Barn Swallow Barn: Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebird
      2. Black locust trees along the Ashumet Farm Trail: Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole

Barnstable Great Marsh, Barnstable

      1. Salt Marsh via the Overlook: Willet, Osprey

Felix Neck, Edgartown

      1. Parking lot: Osprey (nest nearby), Turkey Vulture, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Towhee, Song Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing.
      2. Sassafras Trail on boardwalk over Turtle Pond: Green Heron, Mallard, American Black Duck, Belted Kingfisher
      3. End of Shad Trail on Sengekontacket Pond: American Oystercatcher, Black-bellied Plover, Black Skimmer, sandpipers, Laughing Gull, Double-crested Cormorant
      4. Old Farm Road, field leading to opening to Elizabeth’s Pond: Wood Duck, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Common Grackle, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker
      5. Tip of the Red Trail looking out over marsh, Sengekontacket Pond, and Sarson’s Island: Willet, Whimbrel, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, American Oystercatcher, Greater and Lesser yellowleg, Common Tern, Least Tern, Saltmarsh Sparrow

Sesachacha Heathlands, Nantucket

      1. Quidnet Beach and Sesachacha Pond: Waterfowl, Northern Harrier, Savannah Sparrow

Central Massachusetts

Baltimore Oriole via Richard JohnsonWachusett Meadow, Princeton

      1. South Meadow Oak: Swallows, hawks, Eastern Bluebird, Bobolink, Baltimore Oriole, Indigo Bunting
      2. Hemlock Seep: vireos, Winter Wren, Black-throated Green Warblers, Pileated Woodpecker
      3. Warbler Hollow/Beaver Bend Trail: warblers, sparrows, ducks, flycatchers, American Bittern, Green Heron
      4. Brown Hill Summit: Hawks, sparrows, Prairie Warbler, Rufous-sided Towhee
      5. Chapman Trail: Blackburnian Warbler, Barred Owl, thrushes, vireos, Scarlet Tanager

Broad Meadow Brook, Worcester

      1. Wilson Meadow looking out over the red maple swamp: Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Tree Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, Red-winged Blackbird, Mallard, Wood Duck
      2. Troiano Trail: Sparrows, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, ducks, sandpipers
      3. Powerline Trail: Field Sparrow, Prairie Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Bluebird

Connecticut River Valley


Bald Eagle via Richard Johnson

Arcadia, Easthampton/Northampton

      1. Ned’s Ditch: Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl
      2. Old Springfield Road along meadows: grassland birds including Bobolink, American Kestrel
      3. Old Orchard: warblers, other migratory songbirds
      4. Fern Trail Observation Tower: Wood Duck, herons


Wood Duck via Richard Johnson

Wood Duck via Richard Johnson

Pleasant Valley, Lenox

      1. Yokun Trail (all along Yokun Brook): Louisiana Waterthrush, Brown Creeper, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Pileated Woodpecker
      2. Yokun Trail (the footbridge that crosses over the lower pond): Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Alder Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Warbling Vireo

Canoe Meadows, Pittsfield

      1. Sacred Way Trail (the back section of the trail separated by Crossover Trail): Great Crested Flycatcher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Wood Duck, Solitary Sandpiper (migrant), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (migrant).
      2. Carriage Road (along the marsh area and into the hemlock woods): Pine Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, Winter Wren (migrant), Rusty Blackbird (migrant)

Lime Kiln Farm, Sheffield

      1. Lime Kiln Loop (the entire loop and small section leading to the parking area): Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black & White Warbler, Cape May Warbler (migrant), Bay-breasted Warbler (migrant)

New Hampshire

Pileated woodpecker © Kim Nagy

Pileated woodpecker © Kim Nagy

Wildwood Camp*, Rindge, New Hampshire

      1. First Point on Hubbard Pond: Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Wood Duck, Cedar Waxwing, Tree Swallow
      2. Camp Store Field: Scarlet Tanager, Pileated Woodpecker, Black-throated Green Warbler, American Goldfinch
      3. Sand Bank: Chipping Sparrow, Common Raven, Black-and-white Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo

*To bird at Wildwood, register for the Wildwood Bird-a-thon Special. Sightings at Mass Audubon Wildwood camp are the only non-Massachusetts sightings that count toward Bird-a-thon totals.

The 8 Most Difficult Birds to Spot During Bird-a-thon

On May 13 at 6 pm, teams across the state will begin a 24-hour effort to record the most bird species in Massachusetts as part of Bird-a-thon, an annual fundraiser that raises money to support our sanctuaries and programs.

Last year, Team Drumlin Farm squeaked out a win over Team Moose Hill by just one species. Such close competition makes spotting a rare species all that much more enticing. Enter the Elusive 8, eight species, which due to rarity, nesting behavior, preferred location, and/or being difficult to identify, are the most challenging to spot (or hear) during Bird-a-thon.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk via USFWS

Northern Goshawk via USFWS

Most likely to be found in Western Massachusetts, the northern goshawk is very uncommon and nests in the interior forest. The largest and most seldom-seen accipiter in Massachusetts, it is swift, strong, tenacious, and often aggressive near a nest.

King Rail

King Rail via USFWS

King Rail via USFWS

Massachusetts is near the northern limit of the king rail’s breeding range. These rare and local freshwater marsh breeders are more often heard than seen.

Arctic Tern

Arctic tern via USFWS

Arctic tern via USFWS

Massachusetts represents the southern edge of the breeding range for the Arctic tern, and those few individuals that breed in the Bay State (typically less than 3 nesting pairs annually) are state listed as a Species of Special Concern. Non-breeding Arctic terns are sometimes found adjacent to common tern colonies but are frequently misidentified.

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared owl via Matt Knoth/Flickr

Long-eared owl via Matt Knoth/Flickr

The long-eared owl is a rare breeder in Massachusetts with very few known breeding locations. The species presents a particular challenge by being completely nocturnal and is often much quieter than other owl species. In recent years, the long-eared owl has been the least frequently recorded species during Bird-a-thon.

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher via Budgora/Flickr

Olive-sided Flycatcher via Budgora/Flickr

There are only a few places in the Bay State today where the olive-sided flycatcher may be reliably encountered. Plum Island is a good place to look for these late migrants in late May through early June.

Bicknell’s Thrush

Bicknell's Thrush via Aaron Maizlish/Flickr

Bicknell’s Thrush via Aaron Maizlish/Flickr

Due to its close resemblance to the gray-cheeked thrush, Bicknell’s thrush is a difficult species to identify correctly in the field. It’s also a rare migrant to Massachusetts: In recent years, Bicknell’s thrush has been one of the least recorded species during Bird-a-thon.

Golden-winged Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler via Kent McFarland/Flickr

Golden-winged Warbler via Kent McFarland/Flickr

Most likely extirpated as a breeder in Massachusetts and a rare migrant, the Golden-winged Warbler is a hard box to check on the Bird-a-thon species checklist; Try looking for it where Blue-winged Warblers nest. In recent years, the Golden-winged Warbler has been one of the least recorded species during Bird-a-thon.

Cerulean Warbler

Cerulean Warbler via USFWS

Cerulean Warbler via USFWS

This bird’s fondness for the canopy heights, as well as its rarity in the state, makes it one of the most difficult breeding warblers to find and observe.  A local breeder, the cerulean warbler does have several well-known nesting sites and is usually a persistent songster.

A Note on Birding Etiquette

Remember, always bird respectfully, and take special care not to disturb these species! Bird-a-thoners should acquaint themselves with the Bird-a-thon rules, including Bird-a-thon etiquette, prior to the event. Of course, if encountered during your team’s normal birding activity, consider yourselves lucky and proudly check these species off your list!

Join the Flock! Be a part of Bird-a-thon

There’s still time to be part of Bird-a-thon!  You can join a team, fundraise for a team, or donate to the event, team, or team member. Get the details >

Let the Bird-a-thon-ing Begin!

What are our Bird-a-thon Team Captains looking at?


Bird-a-thon is Mass Audubon’s annual birding competition and our largest fundraiser. On May 13 and 14, 25 teams of birders will spend 24 hours attempting to spot the most species in Massachusetts all the while raising essential funds for our wildlife sanctuaries and programs. Seasoned birders, beginner birders, or those who just want to support a team by fundraising (Bird-a-thon Boosters) are all encouraged to participate.

This year, we have set our fundraising goal at $250,000 to enable the continued protection of the nature of Massachusetts through conservation, education, and advocacy. Want to get in on the action? There are several ways to be a part of Bird-a-thon starting today!

Bird and Fundraise for a Bird-a-thon Team: Fundraise for your team online by creating a fundraising page and/or raise money offline. If you are not yet signed up to bird on a team and would like to learn more, contact birdathon@massaudubon.org or 781-259-2136.

Be a Bird-a-thon Booster (Fundraise for Bird-a-thon): Create a fundraising page to fundraise online for your team of choice and/or fundraise offline.

Bird for a Bird-a-thon Team: If you are not yet signed up to bird on a team and would like to learn more, contact birdathon@massaudubon.org or 781-259-2136

Happy Birding!

Meet Owen the Birder

Owen Lawson

More than 800 birders took part in Bird-a-thon, Mass Audubon’s annual fundraiser where teams spend 24 hours competing to see (or hear) the most species. But this year Owen Lawson, age 6, stood out.

Along with his dad, Justin, the first-grader at the Elmwood Street Elementary School in Millbury recorded 102 species, and raised $230 for Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester.

But Bird-a-thon is just one part of Owen’s master plan. Since the beginning of 2014, he’s been pursuing his own “Little Big Year” in New England. (“Big Year” refers the quest by birders to identify the most species in North America in a calendar year.)

Owen’s original goal for 2014 was 200 species. But as of today, he’s already at 220! Many of these species were spotted using a pair of well-worn binoculars. “I use my grammy’s,” Owen said. “It’s much easy to pick up, because my dad’s is more heavier.”

Speaking of dad, it’s little surprise that Owen’s favorite birding partner is his father, who serves as trip planner, driver, and bird mentor. “When I go with my dad, I see lots of stuff,” he said.

For Justin Lawson, birding is a serious avocation, but his wishes for Owen are to see beyond the birds, to make a broad connection with nature. “I want my sons to be educated about the outdoors, but more important, develop an early appreciation for it.”

Owen is already on his way emulating his father as a birding mentor. “I think when I grow up I want to tell my kids about birds,” he said. “And I always make sure to tell my little brother when I see a bird.”

Justin is clearly doing a good job. In addition to birds and birding, Owen is intrigued by tide pools, and the critters he spies in the shallows. A whale-watch is on tap for this summer. And he plays on baseball and soccer teams.

As Owen puts it, “I guess I just like running around and looking at stuff. And up at the sky.”

Some Owen the Birder fun facts:

  • Started birding two years ago
  • Has now birded in 10 states
  • First Bird: Merlin, at Worcester airport
  • Best Bird of 2014: Painted Bunting
  • Number of “life birds”: 235
  • Favorite bird: Great Grey Owl (seen only in picture books—so far)

Follow along on Owen’s Little Big Year by checking out the Lawsons’ blog, which includes pictures taken by Owen and check out his fundraising page.

Weekend Update

Tonight at 6 pm Bird-a-thon begins: 30 teams birding over 24 hours, competing to see (or hear) the most species, all the while raising money to support their wildlife sanctuaries or programs.

Follow along with the event on Twitter (@massaudubon and/or #birdathon) and consider making a donation in support of your favorite team! Also, check out one birder’s story of what inspired her to get involved. Looking for weekend ideas beyond Bird-a-thon? We’ve got you covered.

  • You don’t need to be part of an official Bird-a-thon team to get out and enjoy spring migration. We have guided bird walks planned throughout the state all weekend long. Be sure to share what you see!
  • The Habitat Intergenerational Program’s (HIP) Herb Study Group is holding its annual Herb Sale on Saturday at Habitat in Belmont. Expect Massachusetts-grown, organic annual and perennial herbs and vegetables.
  • Saturday also marks South Shore Sanctuaries annual Walk for Wildlife fundraiser. This year we’ll be walking the trails at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield. There will also be activities, snacks, and hayrides for all participants. (registration required)
  • Get “up close and personal” with amphibians found around Broadmoor in Natick during Wild About Amphibians on Saturday. Learn about frogs and salamanders and take a short walk to our marsh and vernal pool to see more animals in the wild. (registration required)
  • Take a guided walk around Drumlin Farm in Lincoln to look for mushrooms during Fungi Field Walk. We’ll discuss the crucial and sometimes astonishing roles these fascinating life forms have in the ecosystem and some methods for identifying mushrooms and other fungi in the field. (registration required)
  • Do you know what makes a good photograph “pop”? During the outdoor, family-friendly Nature Photography program held in Spencer by Broad Meadow Brook, we’ll have fun learning nature photography basics. You may even get the perfect shot to enter the Mass Audubon photo contest. (registration required)

For a full listing of programs, visit our online program catalog, where you can now register online for many of our programs.

P.S. This photo was taken under the supervision of owl expert and Blue Hills Trailside Museum director Norman Smith. Adults or children should not approach a baby owl.