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

Suggested Events 03/22/08 – 03/28/08

Happy Spring

Spring is here, officially arriving early Thursday morning. My daughter asked me if this meant that the sun would be coming home now … how can I tell her not to hold her breath (remember last year in April when it snowed and schools were closed)? Yesterday when we were down in Hadley in the rain, I could see in her face the gloom of these past few cold and gray days gnawing at her. As I helped her zip up her winter jacket and tucked in her hair under her winter cap, I got an earful on how she wants the rain and snow to just go away so she could just run around outside, “.. run around, Mommy, without my boots on! They don’t smell like new anymore.” I have to admit that they are smelling a little funky after a full winter’s worth of wetness and muck.

While we still have nearly a foot of snow on the ground outside our door here in West Chesterfield, a few people chimed in last week with signs of spring their families have spotted, including skunks, puddles and plumes of steam rising from local sugar shacks. I’d like to add another sign of spring: when you can see the patch of lawn above your septic tank; that little oasis of lawn surrounded by snow that’s slowly, ever so slowly, melting away.


If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our community bulletin board.

Local forecast | Get directions | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)

Events Happening in the Hilltowns
The following key represents the sum cost of one adult and one child:(>$) Under $10; ($) Between $10-$19; ($$) Between $20-$44; ($$$) Over $45

Saturday – 03/22

7am – 10am – FAMILY RADIO – (Air Waves) While traveling around town, tune-in to The River from 7-9am or 103.3 FM from 8-10am to hear fabulous family-friendly music on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child . [All ages] (Free)

9am-1pm – ALL THINGS BASEBALL – (Florence) Northampton Little League will be having a fundraiser at the Old Florence Grammer School (140 Pine Street). New & used baseball apparel, equipment and more. To donate call 413.584.6974 [All Ages] (Fundraiser)

9am, 10:15am & 11:30am – BREAKFAST WITH THE EASTER BUNNY – (Florence) At Look Park. [Families] ($)

10am-Noon – EASTER EGG HUNT – (Montgomery) The Montgomery library will be sponsoring an Easter egg hunt, provide games and offer cupcake decorating. [Ages 10 & under] (Free)

10:30am – EASTER EGG HUNT – (Pittsfield) 64th Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Reid Middle School. Bring your own baskets. 413.499.9370 [Ages 9 & under] (Free)

11am – EASTER EGG HUNT – (Worthington) The Rec Dept. will be hosting an Easter egg hunt at the Worthington Rod and Gun Club for town kids. Bring a basket. [Ages 10 & under) (Free)

11am-12:30pm – CSI FOR KIDS – (South Hadley) Crime Scene Investigation for Kids will be at the South Hadley Public Library. Learn about forensic science through pH testing, finger printing and more. Preregistration required. 413.538.5045 [Ages 9-12] (Free)

11:30am – EASTER EGG HUNT – (Middlefield) Easter Bunny will be visiting at the town hall during their town Easter egg hunt. [Ages 10 & under] (Free)

1pm – EASTER EGG HUNT – (Northampton) Easter Egg Hunt at Look Park. 413.587.1040 [Ages 10 & under] (Free with entrance fee)

1pm – TEA PARTY – (Florence) The Lilly Library will be hosting it’s third annual Doll Tea Party. This years guest doll maker/speaker will be Heidi Stevens of Leeds who stitches “Somali Dolly’s” with a group of Somali Bantu women. Participants are asked to bring their own favorite doll or stuffed toy. Tea and cakes will be served. For more information or to register for this event please call Lilly Library at 413.587.1500. [Families] (Free)

1pm & 4pm – THEATER – (Pittsfield) Addy: An American Girl Story will be performed at the Colonial Theater. 413.997.4444 [Ages 8 & up] ($$)

4pm – 6:50pm – ICE SKATING – (Amherst) There will be a public skate at the Mullins Center Ice Rink. Skate rentals available. 413.545.3990 [Families] ($)

6pm-8pm – CONTRA DANCE – (Cummington) The CFC will be hosting a Contra Dance at the Cummington Community House with Steve Howland. 413.634.5362 [All Ages] (Free)

Read the rest of this entry »

Legends & Lore of Easter Icons

Easter Symbols, Icons, Legend, Lore and Customs

Many traditions of Easter, a religious holiday, have their origins in pagan rituals and beliefs. The result is lots of legends and lore behind the popular icons, symbols and customs that are part of the Easter celebration.

Hallmark historian and archivist Sharman Robertson explains the meaning of the word “Easter” and highlights the origin of Easter customs:

The Word “Easter”

Centuries before Christ, the pagan tribes of Europe worshipped a beautiful goddess of spring named Eostre (EE-ah-tra). Festivals celebrating the end of winter and the birth of spring were held in her honor at the end of March, the time of the vernal equinox. Some historians believe the word Easter is a variation of her name.

Others see a connection between Easter and the rising of the sun in the east.  Read the rest of this entry »

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