Volunteer Spotlight: Marj Rines, Wildlife Expert

Marj Rines, volunteer at Mass Audubon © Joe Brown
© Joe Brown

As an avid birder, nature enthusiast, and active member of several conservation organizations, Marj Rines had no trouble deciding how she wanted to spend her free time when she retired from a career in advertising: she wanted to volunteer with Mass Audubon and share her knowledge and interest in wildlife. And she found her perfect position, fielding calls to Mass Audubon’s Wildlife Information Line.

Most Common Questions

Most of the calls Marj handles fall into about 15 categories. The typical caller is looking to identify a bird—often not recognizing a juvenile or, less frequently, coming across a rarity. Others want to know how to attract bluebirds, what to do with a bird stunned from flying into a window, or how to keep woodpeckers from drumming away at their gutters. The most common question: “Why have the birds stopped coming to my feeder?”

Favorite Part of the Job

“I love watching the blinders come off someone’s eyes. They encounter a bird with fancy markings, like a northern flicker, and they call me and ask, ‘What was that amazing bird?’,” says Marj. “Their excitement is infectious!” 

Continued Learning

Over the years, Marj’s knowledge has grown. “If I don’t know the answer, I research it and get back to the caller. It’s a blessing: I learn something new, and I get to encourage the caller to keep observing, questioning, and learning, too,” she says.

To find out why the birds aren’t coming to your feeder—and much more—send your questions to [email protected], call 781-259-2150, or check out answers to frequently asked nature and wildlife questions at massaudubon.org/nature-wildlife.

For more on volunteering with Mass Audubon, visit massaudubon.org/volunteer.

Peggy Sagan is Statewide Volunteer Program Coordinator.