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  • Photograph of Minke Whale

    A rare photograph of a Minke Whale breaching, taken by Ian Davies on the Stellwagen Bank, Massachusetts.

    MASSACHUSETTS


    Best Wildlife in Massachusetts

    Mammals
    Humpback Whale and (Atlantic) White-sided Dolphin. Also a chance of Fin, Minke and Long-finned Pilot Whales, and Harbour Porpoise (all Apr-Nov, mostly August). From mid-April to mid-May Northern Right Whales move through.

    Birds
    The birds listed are usually present during the northern summer. Great Shearwater, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Wood Duck, Piping Plover, Blue Jay and Cedar Waxwing, as well as Common Eider, Wild Turkey, Manx Shearwater, (Northern) Gannet, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, shorebirds including Red-necked Phalarope, Great Black-backed Gull, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Tit, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole, Common Grackle and American Goldfinch. Also a chance of Cory’s Shearwater, Leach’s Storm Petrel & skuas (jaegers).

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Massachusetts

    Best Times for Wildlife in Massachusetts

    Whales are usually present from April to October with peak numbers in August, which is also a good time for shorebirds, especially the end of the month which is also the best time for White-faced Storm Petrel.

    Recommended Books etc. for Massachusetts

    Mammals of North America by R W Kays and D E Wilson. PUP, 2009 (Second Edition).

    Mammals of North America by F A Reid. Peterson North American Field Guides, 2006 (Fourth Edition).

    Peterson Field Guide to Finding Mammals in North America by V Dinets. Houghton Mifflin, 2015.

    Field Guide to the Birds of North America edited by J Dunn and J Alderfer. NGS, 2011 (Sixth Edition).

    Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by K Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

    The North American Bird Guide by D Sibley. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America by R T Peterson. Houghton Mifflin, 2010 (Sixth Edition).

    The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds by R Crossley. PUP, 2011.


    Apps etc.


    National Geographic Birds: Field Guide to North America.

    The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America.

    Peterson Birds of North America.

    Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds.

    iBird Ultimate Guide to Birds.

    Trip Reports for Massachusetts

    Many trip reports, some for Massachusetts, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Massachusetts. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Massachusetts' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Massachusetts

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Massachusetts

    Some Organized Tours to Massachusetts

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Massachusetts in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.