Results So Far
Breeding bird surveys of forests, grasslands, and salt marshes were initiated in 2004 at 127 counting circles on 26 Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries throughout the state. This has grown to 307 circles on 46 wildlife sanctuaries as of 2012.
- We have recorded 150 species of birds within our count circles, including a number of species of conservation concern.
- Wildlife sanctuaries supporting the most species include Pleasant Valley, Canoe Meadows, Wachusett Meadow, Ipswich River, Broadmoor, and Allens Pond.
- Our breeding bird database (a Microsoft Access file) now has over 25,000 records.
Species Richness Comparisons
Species richness refers to the number of species in a selected area, such as a wildlife sanctuary. In the figure below, each triangle represents one of the wildlife sanctuaries we have sampled. The size of the triangle indicates the relative number of species recorded there.
Birds of Conservation Concern
Many of our wildlife sanctuaries serve as breeding habitats for a large number of “species of conservation concern". A formal designation by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, a species of conservation concern is one that is rare or declining in population and has been so designated in the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). Ipswich River, Allens Pond, and Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuaries support the highest number of these “SWAP” species (as seen in the map below).
The top five Species of Conservation Concern recorded on Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries during breeding bird surveys:
Number of sanctuaries on which it has been recorded
Species that inhabit forest interiors are of conservation concern due to the increased fragmentation of their habitats, both in New England and in their wintering grounds. Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries in the central and western part of the state provide particularly rich habitat for these types of species.
Widely Distributed Species
The following species are ubiquitous throughout Massachusetts and occur at a large number of our wildlife sanctuaries during the breeding season.