Site Summary: Site Summary: Blue Hills Reservation

Map of the Blue Hills IBA site

Nominated By:

Laura Liptak, Patty O'Neill


7,000 acres

Towns and Counties:

Canton, Milton, Quincy, Randolph; Norfolk


Department of Conservation and Recreation, Mass Audubon

Major Habitats:

5% pitch pine/scrub oak forest, 5% early successional shrubland, 10% emergent freshwater wetland, 10% palustrine wooded swamp

Land Use:

nature & wildlife conservation/ land trust, fishing, other recreational or tourism, quarry/gravel pit (historically), undeveloped, weather observatory

IBA Criteria:

  • Category 2: Sites important for long-term research and/or monitoring projects that contribute substantially to ornithology, bird conservation, and/or education.
  • Category 5: Land Birds: The site is an important migratory stopover or seasonal concentration site for migratory land birds (e.g., warblers). Sites may also qualify on the basis of supporting exceptionally high densities of breeding species as shown from point counts or other surveys or if they represent "migrant traps" relative to surrounding areas. Strong consideration will be given to areas with consistently high overall species diversity..

Site Description:

This 7,000-acre reservation features deep forests, shaggy cliffs, trails, and brooks. Two hundred fifty miles of footpaths are shared by hikers, horseback riders, cross-country skiers, and mountain bikers. Summits dominate the landscape, with 23 peaks in the Blue Hills. This IBA features an environmentally unique bog and a freshwater marsh that is prime habitat for birdwatching. Recreational features include Houghton's Pond beach and quarries for rock climbing.

Current Conservation Status:

Owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, partly managed by Mass Audubon, dependent on annual state funding.

Other Important Species:



Maximum Numbers


Hawks Fall migration 45 banded 2001
Hawks Fall migration 87 banded 2000
Hawks Fall migration 178 banded 1999
Prairie Warbler Breeding 25+ pairs 1980-2001
Baltimore Oriole Breeding 25+ pairs 1980-2001
Scarlet Tanager Breeding 25+ pairs 1980-2001
Gray Catbird Breeding 50+ pairs 1980-2001
Wood Thrush Breeding 25+ pairs 1980-2001
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Breeding 25+ pairs 1980-2001
Eastern Towhee Breeding 50+ pairs 1980-2001
Veery Breeding 25+ pairs 1980-present
Great Crested Flycatcher Breeding 25+ pairs 1982-present
Eastern Wood-Pewee Breeding 25+ pairs 1986-2000
Hairy Woodpecker Breeding 25+ pairs 1980-present
American Woodcock Breeding 25+ pairs 1980-present

Other Flora or Fauna of Significance:

Timber Rattlesnakes, Fishers, River Otters, Northern Copperheads, Marble Salamanders, Blandings and Box Turtles

Data Sources:

G. D'Entremont, personal observations.

M. Rines, Bird Observer records, 1994-2000.

Download the Map:

bluehills-iba.jpg 837.01 kB