|Volunteers work to help clear alien invasive plant species beside a vernal pool at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary as part Mass Audubon's 7th annual state wide volunteer day. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.|
|Christ Foote-Smith, Director of Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary leads a group of volunteers from Biogen-Idec as they remove aline invasive plant species in an effort to make more room for native plants.|
Bird #118 showed up a little later - we had actually just walked through the area where they have a collection of injured birds which can't be released into the wild, and I had spent some time studying the Broad-winged Hawk. About 20 minutes later I was standing outside the big red barn and looked up to see a hawk flying overhead and instantly I thought of the Broad-winged Hawk I had just seen. I got a pretty good look at it through my binoculars and was excited to confirm that it was a Broad-winged Hawk, species #118 for the year.
As I looked at the Tree Swallows in the field, the Broad-winged Hawk overhead, and a small group of Brown-headed Cowbirds foraging in the cow pasture I was reminded both of the agricultural heritage of New England as well as the legacy of conservation which is embodied in places like Drumlin Farm. Seeing the volunteers today also made me think of the importance of getting people outdoors to see, smell, feel and taste the outdoors, of making conservation a hands-on, concrete experience. This is how people will really come to appreciate the importance of not only preserving the natural world around us, but experiencing it, I firmly believe it is only through these kinds of experiences, of volunteering to help restore the native landscape, of taking the time to get reacquainted with the trees, flowers, birds and insects around us that will not only spark interest in the outdoors, but create stakeholders and advocates for environmental education and protection.
|Kids playing in the spring sunshine at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, Massachusetts. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.|
|The Massachusetts Audubon Society protects close to 35,000 acres of important wildlife habitat across the commonwealth. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.|
I would be remiss of course if I did not also mention in this post that yesterday, April 26,is the birthday of John James Audubon, who, if he were somehow miraculously alive today, would be some 228 years old. Much has changed in the world of natural history and the study of birds since his day - there are at least three or four fewer species birders to pursue in north America, for one thing, and now the majority of birders go afield with binoculars in place of a gun, for another. Nonetheless, the same commitment to, and passion for, wildlife is still very much alive today in the professionals and volunteers who spent their Saturday morning across the Commonwealth engaged in a range of projects which will surely make the woods, waters and fields I love that much better. I would say that's a pretty good present for Audubon's birthday, and a credit to this organization which bears his name.
Thanks for reading.
Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2013.