Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Northern Harrier flying
Northern Harrier © Kyle Wilmarth

Important Bird Area: 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 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.