Impact of Wildlife Research & Conservation

Support Bird Conservation 

Our conservation science experts work on our wildlife sanctuaries and beyond to ensure that the nature of Massachusetts continues to thrive. We create and enhance habitat on our wildlife sanctuaries and support native plants and wildlife across the state through active land management, monitoring, and research.

Accomplishments from FY 2017 include, but are not limited to:

  • Protected 634 acres of farm fields for nesting grassland birds through The Bobolink Project. A total of 17 farms from Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York were included in the program this year. The fields collectively produced an estimated 820 fledgling bobolinks in the summer of 2017. 
  • Launched a pilot eastern meadowlark citizen science project. A total of 51 citizen scientists visited 161 preselected sites in Massachusetts. Eastern meadowlarks were found at 7% of the sites surveyed. The data collected through this project will provide valuable up-to-date information on this species’ current distribution in Massachusetts and will form the basis for a better assessment of meadowlark habitat requirements and conservation needs.
  • Continued working on the Foresters for the Birds Program in Massachusetts. This partnership between Mass Audubon and the Department of Conservation and Recreation trains consulting foresters to manage private lands for forest bird habitat. 
    • An additional 43 forest management plans were written with bird habitat components this year, bringing the total number of “bird-friendly” forest management plans to 93 since the program started in Massachusetts.
    • Over 9,200 acres of forest are now planned to be managed with birds in mind. This partnership between Mass Audubon and the Department of Conservation and Recreation trains consulting foresters to manage private lands for forest bird habitat. 
    • Worked with a consulting forester to create a 100-year management plan for the 1,000-acre Elm Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in North Brookfield and Brookfield. In the coming years, Mass Audubon will be implementing the recommendations of the management plan, creating young forest habitat in some stands, and mimicking old forest habitat in others. Management will­­ also include extensive invasive plant species control.
  • Collected data on breeding birds at Quabbin Reservoir and Bartlett Experimental Forest as part of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). NEON is a continental-scale ecological observation facility, sponsored by the National Science Foundation that gathers and synthesizes data on the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity.
  • Expanded early-successional shrubland habitat at Old Baldy Wildlife Sanctuary in Otis. The habitat created will help shrubland-breeding birds such as eastern towhee, and also the rare native rabbit, New England cottontail.
  • Collaborated with researchers at the American Museum of Natural History’s Great Gull Island Project on the conservation of roseate terns. Great Gull Island is the largest colony of common and roseate terns in North America. Staff assisted with banding and initiated a study of the feeding patterns of common terns in order to investigate the consequences of changing fish stocks and feeding behavior.
  • Continued to collaborate on NOAA’s Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Stewards project, and ongoing survey of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary IBA. Mass Audubon-trained volunteers gathered data on tens of thousands of seabird sightings in 2017 over five dedicated trips on a NOAA vessel and dozens of whale watch trips.

Project Spotlight 

The Bobolink Project

A collaboration between Mass Audubon, Audubon Connecticut, Audubon Vermont, and New Hampshire Audubon, The Bobolink Project is an innovative way to connect people willing to make financial donations to sustain our wildlife and rural heritage with farmers who are willing to help, but who also face stark economic realities. Learn more >