Cambridge Outdoors

playing, learning, and being outdoors in Cambridge, Mass.

When you think of bees, you probably think of someone who looks like this:

a blossom of white clover with a honeybee atop it.
Copyright Amy, Some Rights Reserved. Photographed in Cambridge.

The decline of the domesticated European honeybee, Apis mellifera, has had considerable media attention since colony collapse disorder reared its ugly head in the early 2000s. But scientists are documenting the decline of other bee species, native to the U.S. These and other local pollinators play a keystone role in our ecosystems. An example is this—

Bombus fervidus, or Yellow Bumble Bee. Robert Gegear, an assistant professor of biology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and founder of the Bee-cology Project, will speak on Wed., April 3 at the Cambridge Public Library. His topic? The “beautifully complex interactions between plant species and the insects that pollinate them— intricate ecological systems that we humans are only beginning to understand.”

More info here about Dr. Gegear’s presentation.

Meanwhile, The Cambridge Science Festival is once again coming to our city to inspire, confound, entertain, and wow residents and visitors alike. Many festival events are in “Greater Cambridge,” but it all kicks off at the Cambridge Science Carnival, April 13th. The carnival and robot zoo take place in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Field House. In the adjacent Joan Lorentz Park, from 1:00 to 3:00 (weather permitting) the giant local species puppets of the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project will roam about.

Great Horned Owl Puppet

Later in April, the City Nature Challenge comes to Greater Boston with a full four days of identifying local species in urban, suburban, and rural habitats. Additional information about Cambridge events will be posted here closer to the date.

The Night Shift of the Animal World: Make Some Art on Saturday

Drop in with your child age 4–10 this Saturday for this indoor mask-making and puppet-making. This art “buffet” focuses on nocturnal animals that live in Cambridge.

The event is free and registration is requested, not required, to help the organizers plan for the right number of young artists.twoOWLShaggerty2000x2000

The Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project, a program of Green Cambridge, will also hand out its latest trading card of an animal that lives in Cambridge.


During #TechGivesBack, Volunteers from Rapid7 helped the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project prepare for Saturday’s art buffet.


Photograph of two owls: Copyright Fresh Pond Feathers.
Photographs of children wearing their owl masks: CC-BY-NC-ND_small-1aa23c2a3738119b3752c0d183fd166c Julie Croston


Art at the Farm, Monarchs, and Insectives

This month there’s quite a bit going on outdoors in Cambridge for kids, especially on Sundays.

Use your creativity to make box puppets of local animals at Art at the Farm on August 13th,  watch the monarch caterpillars grow all month and then be released at Fresh Pond  Reservation on August 19th,  and become an insect detective (insective?) also at Fresh Pond on August. 26th.

Here’s where you can get the details on these events.

Fly, Buzz, and Honk!….Again

greathornedowlpublicdomainalanschmArt and Nature will meet once again in a Cambridge open space on Thursday, July 26. Now postponed to Friday, July 27, due to the weather forecast.

The third annual Fly, Buzz, and Honk! Festival offers guided nature exploration for children, a pollinator relay game, puppet-making, make-your-own nature journal, National Moth Week activities, and an oud performance by Ghassan Sawalhi during lunch hour.

FlybuzzhonkRWBkids576x576The Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project (CWPP), which has produced the event for the past two years, has become part of the nonprofit organization Green Cambridge.  Over the past year, Green Cambridge has collaborated with the CWPP to create and distribute four wildlife trading cards for kids in the Cambridge Wildlife series. The four are a tree and three local species that help urban farmers and gardeners. The trading cards will be given out to children at the event.

We’re taking the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project under our wing and carrying on its work.—Green Cambridge Executive Director Steven Nutter


“This was a natural fit,” says Green Cambridge Executive Director Steven Nutter, “Green Cambridge has always been involved in that nexus between the well-being of humans and a healthy environment in Cambridge. We’re taking the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project under our wing and carrying on its work. That includes puppetry and parades and other ways of being outdoors, of taking in the wonder of the natural world.”

The event is open to the public. Activities from 10:00 to 12:00 are geared for children 3–12, and the musical performance is for all ages.

Rain date: Friday, July 27.




at the 2018 Fly, Buzz, and Honk Festival

Ghassan Sawalhi is a Palestinian music producer, engineer, composer, arranger and Oudist. At age 11, Sawalhi entered the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah to begin his journey with the Oud. Eight years later, in 2011, he co-founded Bil3ax بالعكس  (pronounced “Bil’aks”) a contemporary and alternative music band addressing political and social problems, which toured around major venues in Palestine, recording a debut album, 12 Richter.ghassanwithoud

In 2012 Sawalhi began his journey in music production and engineering by collecting old records of traditional Arabic music and editing them to sound clearer. Over the next two years, as producing & engineering grew into his passion, he produced dozens of singles and collaborated with well-known singers and hip hop artists in the Middle East.

In 2014 Sawalhi was accepted to Berklee College of Music, where he majors in Music Production and Engineering.  In addition to his engineering accomplishments, he has actively maintained and improved his oud playing under Simon Shaheen, one of the world’s renowned oud masters. He has performed at major Northeastern venues including Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge, Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Massachusetts State House. He continues to record, mix and perform in the United States.

Summah Birds

Be the early bird. Check out Cambridge bird species before the sun is high.

Summer Bird Walk at Fresh Pond Reservation

Saturday, July 14th

7:30am to 9:30am

Register for parking and meeting place information and to receive information on cancellations due to weather.

a body of water surrounded by trees and replete with lilies, a great blue heron on the opposite shore

Photo: Julie Croston

The best time to look for birds during the summer is early in the morning, because that is when birds are most active. The air is cool and comfortable and the birds are hungry for breakfast. With walk leader Nancy Guppy, we may find adults feeding babies in the nest, and fledglings begging for food while following their parents.  As always, beginning birders are welcome.  Binoculars are available to lend. Register with Catherine Pedemonti at

Feature photo: Frank Lehman. Dr. Lehman’s photograph of the Carolina Wren at Mount Auburn Cemetery is featured on the latest Cambridge Wildlife Trading Card produced by Green Cambridge, distributed free to Cambridge children at public events such as the Fly, Buzz, and Honk! Festival on July 26th.

Take Mom Outside for Mother’s Day (for the under 12 set)

  1. Take mom outside, find a land snail on a leaf or in the grass, and watch it travel for at least five minutes. Measure how far it went. Give it a name. Or both of you can find your own snail and each make up a five-sentence story about it.
  2. Make matching nature journals for yourself and your mom. Staple together some folded paper to make two small sketchbooks. Decorate the covers however you like, give one to Mom with a pencil and join her out in the park or the yard Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 4.40.15 PMand sketch a leaf,  a busy insect, or a flower together in your new journals.
  3. Express yourself. Make up one or two haiku poems about wild animals you and mom have seen together or about an outdoor place you know your mom loves. Write the haiku inside a mother’s day card.
  4. Take mom outside. Have someone take a photograph of the two of you in a tree, under a tree, or peeking out from behind a tree (or in all three places).

Have a great Mother’s Day.

*Photo (C) by Fresh Pond Feathers, reposted by Fresh Pond Reservation here.