May is a great month for bird watching in Massachusetts, featuring the northern migration of colorful wood warblers, the return of many other native birds, and active courting and nesting of returning birds and year-round residents. A recent trip to MassAudubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield with my daughter and son confirmed this is also a great family activity.
We saw palm warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, black and white warbler, and many other interesting and colorful species such as great crested flycatcher, eastern kingbird, blue-gray gnatcatcher, eastern bluebird, hermit thrush, and Baltimore oriole.
The highlight for the kids was letting friendly nuthatches and chickadees take sunflower seeds directly out of their hands (see photo). They also greatly enjoyed snapping pictures of birds and other wildlife with their digital cameras. They got several shots of a playful catbird singing in a nearby thicket, an American goldfinch bathing at the river’s edge, an extremely friendly nuthatch, and a white-tailed deer (see other photos taken by Mia, age 10 and Michael, age 7). We also got very close to a large, male wild turkey who was busily calling for a mate, and a garter snake.
Birds sing the most in the early morning, so that is the best time to go, but you can enjoy bird watching any time of day. Check out MassWildlife’s wildlife viewing index for all kinds of wildlife viewing opportunities and the links below for places to see warblers and other birds in Massachusetts.
- Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area, Bolton/Harvard
- High Ridge Wildlife Management Area, Gardner/Westminster
Connecticut River Valley:
- George Darey Housatonic Valley Wildlife Management Area, Lenox, Lee and Pittsfield
- Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Lenox
- Hiram Fox WMA, Chester/Worthington