Wildlife & Habitat

  • Blanding's Turtle

    Blanding's turtle - USFWS

    The Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) is a medium-sized, semi-aquatic freshwater turtle that is a threatened species in Massachusetts. They require a variety of wetland habitats, make frequent seasonal overland movements, and therefore suffer mortality from direct wetland habitat loss and landscape fragmentation.

    Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge has one of the largest populations in the northeast. Biologists are partnering with researchers to trap turtles to assess their population, as well as doing nest surveys to monitor productivity. Some turtles are “head-started” through the winter at local schools and organizations and then released back into the refuge.

  • Muskrat

    Muskrat - Larry Warfield.

    The season determines the muskrat’s activity and what evidence you’ll see of them or if you’ll actually spot a few. They will be that semi-aquatic medium sized rodent swimming in the pools at the Concord Impoundments or on land eating cattails. “Medium sized” means they are 16-28 inches long with almost half of that being the tail and can weigh up to 4 lbs. They swim using their tails for propulsion and can stay under water for up to 17 minutes. Muskrats are native to North America and introduced in other parts of the world.

  • Great Blue Heron

    Great blue heron - Larry Warfield.

    Whether walking on the dike trail or sitting poised in the pools, the great blue heron is a majestic sight seen throughout the year at the Concord Impoundments and Sudbury River. This stately heron has subtle blue-gray plumage and often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps. They might move so slowly you don’t even notice it and when you do it’s either striking a fish with its yellow dagger-like bill or flapping its 66-79in wingspan.

    Great blue herons can be found in varying wetlands and throughout the United States.

  • Wetlands

    Wetlands - Zachary Cava/USFWS.

    Along the Sudbury and Concord rivers, scrub-shrub wetlands predominate. Extensive buttonbush-dominated wetlands reflect long-term vegetational changes along both rivers. In many areas, invasive species, such as water chestnut or purple loosestrife have displaced plant species of high waterfowl value, such as bur-reed and bulrush. Invasive species management controlling these species has helped to at least combat the continued spread of these unwanted plants. This has been done through water chestnut pulls, use of the harvester and the rearing of the Galerucella beetle that are released to eat the purple loosestrife.