Annual Event: Berkshire Bioblitz

Annual Event Support Interests in Ecology, Zoology, Biology, and More!

Calling all amateur biologists: Mid-September is the time for the annual Berkshire Bioblitz! During a 24 hour period, teams of participants accompanied by an expert scientist will explore Springside Park, the largest municipal park in Pittsfield, MA, and see how many species they can find from a list. This is a great way to learn about local biology and get hands-on experience assisting with real scientific research. You’ll be amazed how much wildlife there is right under your nose. All ages welcome. Springside Park Conservancy. 413-499-7505. 58 Oak Hill Road. Pittsfield, MA.

Want to host your very own bioblitz? Resources for blitz-planning are available on the National Geographic website – the organization has provided everything from instructions for early planning to a suggested materials list!  A bioblitz can offer students a unique hands-on learning experience that will make them more aware of the amount of biodiversity in their neighborhood and will teach them to identify new species. Communities will benefit from the events as well – neighbors can gain a greater awareness of what’s in their backyards, and perhaps even become better connected to the natural world that surrounds them! For Western MA teachers, educators, and parents who are interested in learning more about using the outdoors as a living classroom, check out the Berkshire Museums Living Landscapes curriculum. Living Landscapes focuses on natural science but also includes connections to math, language arts, and visual arts, and is a terrific local resource.

Community Resources Support Interests in Animals, Insects, Fish and More!

Support an Interest in Zoology with Community-Based Resources

Seeking out animals in farms, shelters, zoos, museums, libraries, and your own backyard opens up a world of learning

Directly engaging with animals provide direct ways of learning about biology, habitat, ecology, and other scientific disciplines. Reading or hearing about animals is useful, but actually seeing them upclose is invaluable. Many kids are fascinated by animals- their appearance, their behavior, the way they interact.

For parents of animal lovers, this interest is a ripe opportunity for education via community-base resources and events. Taxonomy, the scientific grouping of biological organisms, is complex. Classes of animal species often encompass their own branch of biology. Kids who collect bugs are budding entomologists, while bird watchers are junior ornithologists. And the great thing about animal studies is that it also strengthens a sense of place, connecting us with animals and habitat that surround us everyday.

Here are a few community-based resources to support an interest and education in zoology, biology and entomology:  Read the rest of this entry »

Listen for Frogs, Become a Citizen Scientist!

Listen for Frogs, Become a Citizen Scientist!

Just in time for the awakening of amphibian species, families can participate in the FrogWatch citizen science project! Using this and other resources, folks can learn about local species of frogs and salamanders and can engage in important conservation work.

Not long from now, local ponds, wetlands, and vernal pools will be teeming with life. Teetering somewhere between ice-crusted and mucky as of late, these aquatic habitats are home to a variety of fascinating species – including many types of frogs! As the landscape awakens, families can prepare for the appearance of local amphibian species by learning to identify common species, exploring the life cycle of amphibians, and engaging in citizen science opportunities.

Hibernating amphibians rise from their icy winter sleep on the first rainy night when the temperature rises above 40 degrees. Known sometimes as “the big night,” this occasion is cause for celebration – and for science. Families can serve as salamander crossing guards, helping the creatures to reach their breeding pools and taking part in citizen science at the same time.

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The African Serval Cat Comes to the Berkshires

Animals Up Close: The African Serval Cat
Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield
Saturday, July 6, 2013

Meet animals from around the world at Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA during the Animals Up Close: The African Serval Cat program, presented by the Granite State Zoo, formerly known as the W.I.L.D. Center & Zoological Park of New England, on Saturday, July 6, at 1pm.  Learn about different species outside of the Berkshires’ backyard and the efforts taken to protect the habitats of these creatures at this live animal program. ($$)

How often is it that your family gets to meet a wild animal up close and personal?  Of course, there are lots of different easy-to-spot species inhabiting backyards all over western Massachusetts, and even more elusive species in like porcupines, bears, bald eagles and moose – but what about nonnative species from other regions, like an African Serval Cat or Moluccan Cockatoo?!  On Saturday, July 6th at 1pm, the Granite State Zoo in New Hampshire brings these exotic creatures (and more!) to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA, presenting families with an exciting opportunity to meet unique animals face-to-face… perfect for animal-loving kids of all ages…

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WebCam Catches Peregrine Falcons Nesting Atop UMass Amherst

Peregrine Falcons Nesting Atop UMass Amherst

Peregrine Falcon Webcam at UMass Amherst

Did you know that UMass Amherst’s W.E.B. Du Bois Library is home to a pair of Peregrine falcons? You might think that’s an odd place to live, but Peregrines love to nest on tall buildings! The nest box was installed in 2003 on top of the Library and has drawn the once-federally endangered Peregrine falcons to the Library each year since then.

Thanks to MassWildlife, families can watch these birds of prey in action by viewing their twenty-four hour live webcam. Kids can learn about animal behavior by watching the chicks hatch, fledge and fly. Viewers may even get to see the eyases (that’s what they call a baby Peregrine falcon) take their first flight!

This exciting event lasts from March until June each year and is completely free to view from your home computer or mobile device. Live images of the falcons brooding their eggs and caring for their hatchlings can be viewed at (or by clicking on the Falcon Cam button on the Library’s web page: with support for both iOS and Android mobile devices.

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I Spy Nature Science: Citizen Scientists Wanted


Wildlife at the Chesterfield Gorge in Chesterfield, MA. (Photo credit: Tony(a) Lemos)

How many different types of creatures has your family seen crawling, flying, and climbing around a local park, the beach, or your own back yard lately?  Identifying critters is a fun way for kids to learn about their environment, and beginning to document them can help scientists with wildlife research initiatives!

Using SciSpy, families can capture photos of all of the birds, insects, and four-legged fuzzies found in their neighborhood and submit them for use in scientific studies!  By adding your documentations to the SciSpy database, you help to provide information on species populations, locations, and more to studies of many different types of species, environmental changes, etc.  Photos can be submitted via an account, set up using an e-mail address or Facebook account, or, alternately, a SciSpy app can be downloaded to an iPhone for quick and easy submissions.  Using the app can help families learn to identify animal species, learn about local habitats and species populations, and learn about what it means to be an environmental scientist!

Find out more at

Cool Zoo Web Site

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