Searching for Nests & Animal Tracks in Winter

Stalking Winter Nests & Wildlife Tracks
Family Outdoor Adventures

“Because robin nests are fairly large, and so well built, they are one of the easiest to spot after the nesting season. Look for them in shrubs and on horizontal branches in the lower halves of trees.”

During the cold months of winter, many of the creatures often seen during the rest of the year have migrated south, are tucked away in burrows for most of the winter, or have become even better at hiding so as not to be easily spotted against the snow. But their signs are still there and a lot of fun searching for! Looking for signs like tracks, scat, dens, and nests is a fun and educational way to learn about the habits of wildlife living near you.

To inspire families into winter tracking expeditions, Mass Audubon offers an online list of the Top 5 Nests to Spot in Winter! The list includes information on the American Goldfinch, American Robin, Baltimore Oriole, and Chipping Sparrow, as well as Eastern Gray Squirrels, who builds nests high up in trees as well. The nest list not only shares information on spotting and identifying five different nests, it also includes facts about the nest’s structure, specific reasons for why each nest is created the way that it is, and interesting facts.

Identifying nests together with your family can teach them a lot about the habits of each bird species, and can help them develop a greater awareness of the many animal signs present around them. Mass Audubon also has Winter Walk Bingo Cards families can download and print that would make for fun this winter while searching for nests and other signs of wildlife.

Maybe even take Kurt’s advise and after a week of constant ten degree weather, head to the wetlands and explore an area otherwise not easily accessible outside of winter. Read more in his post, “The Ripple: Winter Wetlands.”

Looking for organized activities to do together while looking for nests and other animal tracks, here are some upcoming events in January worth checking out:

[Photo credit: (ccl) carfull...Wyoming]

Mass Audubon Oriole Counting Project

oriole and crab appleWelcome to Oriole Season 2008!

For this fourth full year of oriole counting, we hope the hundreds of oriole watchers who have helped us in past years will tell us if “their” orioles have returned – as well as looking for new nest sites. And for those of you who have yet to join the fun, please help us with our quest to learn more about the Baltimore Oriole population in Massachusetts. You can send us your reports online or download a datacard*.

Now you can map your orioles on line.
The geniuses in our IT Department have installed a new mapping tool that lets you zoom in on an oriole site and then just click to record it on-line. And you can now record multiple sightings without have to sign in again for each record.

Hello, Western Mass!
There are still 70 towns from which we have no oriole reports, mainly west of the Connecticut River valley. Are orioles scarce way out there beyond Worcester, or is it just oriole-watchers that are few and far between? Check our list of the towns with no oriole records and if you live in or near one, please go find us some orioles, so we can see what’s happening to the species Commonwealth-wide.

Bird your patch
We are especially interested in oriole info from well-defined areas—think cemetery, golf course, or your favorite open space. Search the place thoroughly trying to find all the orioles present. Then note the location of each nest carefully and let us know how much area you searched. If you find no nests we want to know this as well. Negative data is just as valuable (though not quite as much fun) as actually finding orioles.

What are we learning about the status of Orioles?
A lot. To find out more, check out Is This Bird in Trouble?

Don’t forget to write
We love getting your messages sharing oriole anecdotes and notes on oriole behavior. Please keep them coming. Send pictures too. We’ll put a selection up on the website. Send your stories to our Oriole Project Coordinator.

And after the orioles have gone to bed… you can start listening for Whip-poor-wills, once-common night birds that are in serious decline. As part of our Birds to Watch program, we have started a new project to map the remaining populations of these unusual birds. You can hear the haunting call of these birds, then take a ride after dark on a fine summer night and see if there are any calling in your town.

Go to the Mass Audubon Oriole Project website and learn more, and thank you for helping us with Oriole Project 2008!

* Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader


Mass Audubon Mass Audubon
208 South Great Road
Lincoln, MA 01773
781-259-9500 / 800-AUDUBON
www.massaudubon.org

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