Cambridge Outdoors

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


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Wildlife Festival This Week Features Parade and Honk Band

—Cambridge, Mass., Tuesday, August 8, 2017. The Cambridge Fly, Buzz, and Honk! Festival welcomes city residents, especially the smaller variety, for two more days on Wednesday, August 9,  and Thursday, August 10, 2017. Wednesday’s lineup includes Navigation Games’ animal homes scavenger hunt at 10:00 a.m. and Puppet Showplace Theater‘s beloved outgoing artist-in-residence Brad Shur. Shur will perform  “Cardboard Explosion!” inviting children to tweak the plot while the performance is underway.

 

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Prior to becoming the Resident Artist at Puppet Showplace, Brad Shur toured the country as a performer with Big Nazo (Rhode Island), Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee) and The PuppeTree (Vermont).

Created with elementary school children in mind, the 2017 Fly, Buzz, and Honk! festival began Monday, August 7th with a focus on a single species of bird that calls Cambridge home.  FlybuzzhonkRWBkidsA familiar sight in wetland areas, including along the banks of the Charles River, the Red-Winged Blackbird uses cattails for nesting and shelter during its summer visits to the city. Approximately one hundred children visited “The Mighty Red-winged Blackbird” event on Monday, creating wings and masks representing the bird, and some worked on models of nests hidden in the cattails.

Overcast skies thinned attendance at the festival on Tuesday. Beekeeper Mel Gadd, who tends bees at Drumlin Farm and Cambridge Friends School, brought a demonstration hive.

The Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project and DHSP community school staff and MSYEP interns guided children in making finger puppets of some unfamiliar and unexpected pollinators—pollinating moths called clearwings, and green metallic bees of belonging to the halictid family.

agapostemon sericeus observed by ninja....jpgOn Thursday, the festival culminates with activities for children related to animal sound and motion, including the Fly, Buzz, Honk and Squeak! mini-parade around the perimeter of Riverside Press Park. Members of the School of Honk (in photo) will lead the parade, which begins at 11:00 a.m.

Fly, Buzz, and Honk! is a collaboration of the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project (CWPP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting city residents with wildlife and local habitats through the arts, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Community School, a division of the Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs.CWPP Frog Logo2017

The festival launched in 2016 as the Fly, Buzz & Honk Expo at Maynard Ecology Center, In 2017, the CWPP moved the event to a more central location in  Riverside/Cambridgeport. The project is supported this year by a grant from the Cambridge Arts Council and Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Saturday’s Moth: National Moth Week 2017

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Common Looper Moth (Autographa precationis), photographed in Cambridge. Copyright (c) by Mark Rosenstein.

We continue our celebration of National Moth Week. All the images we’ve posted this week are of moths that live in Cambridge, and today’s Common Looper Moth is no exception.

Through Sunday, July 30th, you can see beautiful moths from near and far by searching the hashtag #nationalmothweek on Instagram and elsewhere—or better yet, by heading outdoors.

Friday’s Moth: National Moth Week 2017

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Nessus Sphinx Moth (Amphion floridensis), photographed in the city of Cambridge. Copyright (c) Mark Rosenstein.

Sphinx moths like this one are daytime pollinators.  It’s National Moth Week.

Gather your neighbors for a Cambridge “mothing” event.

Thursday’s Moth: National Moth Week 2017

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Grape Plume Moth, Geina periscelidactylus, photographed at Alewife Reservation, Cambridge. Photo (c) Mike Mulqueen. Used by permission.

Moths come in a variety of shapes, as this plume moth demonstrates. It’s National Moth Week. Find your own moth!  Here’s a guide  to attracting and identifying moths…and having a “mothing” event.

Wednesday’s Moth: National Moth Week 2017

(c) Tom Murray

Our National Moth Week species of the day is shown here in its caterpillar form. Meet the Goldenrod Hooded Owlet (Cucullia asteroides)!

The closest public event during National Moth Week to our city is at the South Shore Nature Center, this afternoon (Wed. July 27th). But check out this guide to finding moths.

All of our moth images this week are photographs shot in Cambridge. The image here was photographed at Fresh Pond Reservation by Tom Murray, author of Insects of New England and New York.

When you’re out looking for moths this week, include caterpillars. You can post a photo of it on iNaturalist.org or bugguide.net and ask for identification help.


Five Questions for Cambridge’s Monarch Nannies

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A family checks out the monarch butterflies still in their nursery boxes shortly before helping to escort them to the meadow for release on August 7.  Kim Ahern/Cambridge Water Department Photo.

Why are Monarch butterflies so special? We recently asked five questions of Martine Wong, Fresh Pond Reservation (FPR) Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator, and her Cambridge Mayor’s  Summer Youth Employment Program (MSYEP) intern, Shewit.  On August 6th and 7th, amidst some fanfare—kids and puppets—Martine, Shewit and other staff and volunteers released most of the butterflies that they had helped raise, under the auspices of the Water Department of the City of Cambridge, over the course of the summer.

1. Why is FPR raising butterflies for release?

Shewit: We raise Monarch butterflies every year to educate people about and show the life cycle of the butterflies and to teach the importance of milkweed to Cambridge residents so they might plant milkweed in their gardens. Milkweed is the only plant [Monarchs] lay their eggs on and eat when they are caterpillars. The Monarch butterfly is now in decline because of milkweed plants’ reduction by pesticides and because of using land for other purposes such as for pavement and farming.

Martine Wong, left, with volunteer Lisa and MSYEP intern Shewit, at the Monarch Release event at Lusitania Meadow, Fresh Pond Reservation.

Cambridge Water Dept. staffer Martine Wong (left) with volunteer Lisa Recolta (middle) and MSYEP intern Shewit Yitbarek (right), at the Monarch Release at Lusitania Meadow, Fresh Pond Reservation.Kim Ahern/Cambridge Water Department Photo.

Martine: There are several reasons we’re raising Monarch butterflies for release at Fresh Pond! We hope to teach people about the connection between shrinking butterfly populations and the importance of protecting wildlife habitat. We also want to show people that there are action steps they can take to protect them—you can plant milkweed and other native pollinator-friendly plants, and help to remove invasive plants such as Black Swallow-wort. Also, they are exquisitely beautiful and a joy to behold.

2. Once you received the larvae in the mail, up until this moment of releasing the full grown butterflies, what surprised you most about them?

Shewit: They eat a lot of milkweed leaves and they grow so fast.

3. If we want to help Monarchs live in our city as a whole, what can kids (and just anyone, for that matter) do to make it a welcoming place for them?

pupating and hatching of Monarchs at Fresh Pond

Visitors to Fresh Pond Reservation this summer could view Monarchs at the Ranger Station, in various stages of their life cycle.

Shewit: To make a welcoming place for the Monarch butterfly is to plant enough milkweed plants in the garden, without pesticides. Once the butterfly lays her eggs, the caterpillar continues living upon the plant until it becomes a butterfly—there is no need to change things or worry about it. OR, If the person does not have garden they can raise them in the cage.

Martine: Monarch butterfly caterpillars exclusively eat milkweed – they truly depend on this plant for their survival. A sea of pesticide/herbicide-free milkweed plants for adults to lay eggs on and for caterpillars to eat would be a great welcome, along with planting native pollinator plants that can provide nectar for adult butterflies.

4. What did you learn from other Monarch projects in the United States?

Shewit: I learned some interesting facts, such as monarchs do not have eyelids and they can see UV lights. If the monarchs are in a cage, they need clean space and food because their waste is too much.

The adult Monarch in its new habitat at Lusitania Meadow, Cambridge

An adult Monarch butterfly raised in captivity by the Cambridge Water Department gets accustomed to its new surroundings. Kim Ahern/Cambridge Water Department Photo.

5. If we see a Monarch butterfly at Fresh Pond, will we know it’s one of the ones raised in captivity?

Martine: There’s no way of knowing if it’s one of ours! There are tagging programs for the purposes of learning more about their migration and biology. Perhaps we will try that out next year!

Monarchs are released from captivity by Cambridge's Monarch Nannies


The butterflies are released! Kim Ahern/Cambridge Water Dept. Photo

More:

  • Find other resources about Monarch butterflies in general, and the Cambridge Water Department program in particular, on the Water Department’s Monarch Watch Page.
  • Read the Boston Globe’s coverage of the Cambridge Water Department Monarch Release on August 7, 2016.
  • Find out more about the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, which partnered with more than 125 community organizations and city departments this year. Opportunities include many in sustainability and environmental fields, in addition to the internship offered at Fresh Pond Reservation and Alewife Reservation.

    Giant puppets of monarch and other butterflies (and a few moths) were part of the festivities and parade that escorted the butterflies to Lusitania Meadow at Fresh Pond Reservation, where they were released. Kim Ahern/Cambridge Water Department Photo.

    Giant puppets of monarch and other butterflies (and a moth or two) were part of the parade that escorted the Monarch butterflies to Lusitania Meadow at Fresh Pond Reservation, where they were released. The puppets were made by community members through the Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry ProjectKim Ahern/Cambridge Water Department Photo.