Berkshire Natural History Conference

Berkshire Natural History Conference

6th Annual Berkshire Natural History Conference

The 6th Annual Berkshire Natural History Conference, which will feature presentations by local and regional naturalists as well as acclaimed authors, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 at The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Church Street Center in North Adams, MA.

The event will appeal to naturalists, Berkshire residents, as well as visitors. Students of all ages and disciplines are especially invited.

Please help us celebrate our return to the site of our first Berkshire Natural History Conference. As usual, there is an impressive list of speakers, exhibitors, and displays to entice, inform, and entertain students and adults. Topics this year range from bears and mosses to really little organisms that live within the layers of a leaf.


Schedule of Events

A schedule of events will be posted once finalized.


Saturday, Oct. 1, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Church Street Center
Campus Map (see building 19)

Preregistration is required.

Purchase tickets online

Contact Us

Professor Tom Tyning
Berkshire Community College

Phone: 413-236-4502

BCC Green Team Approved

This annual event will bring natural history home to the Berkshires. We are really excited to gather programs and like-minded people together to help understand and appreciate the deep natural heritage that surrounds us all in the Berkshires.

Berkshire Community College Professor of Environmental Science Tom Tyning; A lead organizer of the event

  • Presenters

    Zach Adams

    "Nocturnal Flight Calls"

    Nocturnal flight calls are an intricate part of bird migration that is as much a phenomenon as a kettle of broad-winged hawks or a swarm of nighthawks, but it occurs when most of us are sleeping. The reality of migration for songbirds is that they are mostly migrating at night where their brain activity drops and they are just flying and making subtle calls. These calls are often just "zips" or "pips" but with a little patience you can hear some incredible sounds that are actually distinct and identifiable. Zach will lead you through a few tips and tricks to making the most of nocturnal flight calls as well as introduce a few prominent calls that are great ways to get started experiencing birds at night and understanding what birds are actually flying over the Berkshires.

    Zach Adams is a lifelong naturalist who started studying birds at a young age and has never looked back. He graduated from Juniata College in 2017 where he studied the relationship of migrating songbirds and berry producing plants. He has worked as an educator for most of his career including work with National Audubon Society where he worked with adults, kids, and live birds of prey. Zach is currently a Teacher Naturalist with Mass Audubon working in the schools, in the community, and leading nature-based programming for adults throughout the entire year. Join Zach for a bird walk where he shares all his enthusiasm for birds and the natural world.

    Kyle Bradford

    "Ants in Pine Barrens of Western MA"

    Co-authors: Michael Akresh, Chris Buelow

    Pine barrens and other dry, disturbance-dependent natural communities provide habitat for many rare and threatened wildlife, including ants. However, the ant fauna of inland Massachusetts barrens is not well documented. In 2020, we sampled 18 barrens sites, including three in Berkshire County, to document ant diversity, and better understand the effects of management, vegetation structure, and other biotic factors on ant diversity and abundance. This talk will discuss what we learned about the ant fauna in Berkshire County and more generally our findings and management implications for inland Massachusetts barrens.

    Kyle Bradford is a biologist with the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program in Ghent, NY. His work research concentrates on insect ecology within agricultural contexts, as well as provides outreach and research on the biodiversity of Columbia County, NY. He is also pursuing an MS in Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England. He has been interested in the northeastern US ant fauna for the last 10 years during which he has been a part of efforts to survey ants in Columbia County, NY, Baxter State Park, Maine, southern New Hampshire, and Massachusetts inland pine barrens.

    Heather Bruegl

    Heather is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and first-line descendent Stockbridge Munsee.

    More details coming soon.

    Brian Hawthorne

    "Massachusetts Biomap 3"

    Details coming soon.

    Matt Kelly

    "A History of Natural History Writing: The Waldo Bailey Journals 1902 to 1963"

    This is the story about the fascinating life of one of New England's great natural history observers as we delve into samples of his observations and nature writing. S. Waldo Bailey was not only an extraordinary keen observer of nature, but he also meticulously recorded his prodigious observations with wonderful prose. His best years were here in Berkshire County.

    Matt Kelly is a past President of the Hoffmann Bird Club has been a nature enthusiast from the start. He was also formerly a Board director for EarthSave International, and a Crew Member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

    Ben Nickley

    "The Berkshire Bird Observatory: Origins, Current Projects, and Tales from the Field"

    "I will discuss BBO's origins, aims, current research projects and future endeavors. I'll also show plenty of pretty pictures of birds in hands and relate stories from our pilot spring, summer and fall seasons at Jug End State Reservation."

    Ben Nickley is a researcher with a passion for birds and the natural landscapes they inhabit. Over the past several years Ben has traveled across North America to do field studies in many exceptional places, mixing in college and grad school along the way. Of all the places he has been — from the Cypress swamps of the Southeast to the high meadows of the Sierra Nevada — he loves nothing more than the Northeastern Deciduous Forest. Ben feels truly privileged to have landed in the Berkshires and to have support from Green Berkshires — BBO's parent organization. BBO contributes data to Green Berkshires' four-year South Taconic biodiversity mapping project. He hopes to garner continued support from the Berkshire community to ensure the longevity of BBO as a social, scientific, and conservation institution in this wonderful region.

    Jonathan Pierce

    "The Rare Birds of Berkshire County"

    Jonathan Pierce loves birding and he has earned the title as one of the county's leading authorities Berkshire avifauna. He is a past president of the Hoffmann Bird Club and has worked for the Mass Audubon and The Trustees at Bartholomew's Cobble. He currently works for the Tri-Town Heath Department in Lee. Over the past decade of birding in the Berkshires he has found such notable species as Says Phoebe, Black-legged Kittiwake and Little Gull. He is ranked as the top birder for the county by eBird and has seen more species in the Berkshires than any other birder past or present.

    Tom Tyning

    "A Mountain Stream Salamander and S. Waldo Bailey"

    "With an increasing understanding of Climate Change, attention has been focused on both terrestrial and aquatic ecological communities. Not surprisingly, a fair amount of research has concerned itself with economically important species. At our last Conference Ron Bassar pointed out the potential threats to our native Brook Trout. Within a few weeks I came across a passage with a hand note from S. Waldo Bailey describing a cold-water salamander he had never seen before and I wondered if it was still there."

    Tom Tyning has been teaching Environmental Science courses at BCC since 1999. Before that he was a Field Biologist and Master Naturalist for Mass Audubon where he spent 24 years. For 15 years he was an adjunct professor in the Environmental Studies Program at Antioch New England Graduate school. His book, A Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles, is part of the Stokes Nature Guide series. He continues to work with endangered species, particularly timber rattlesnakes in Western Massachusetts.

    Rene Wendell

    "Early Detection of Exotic Invasives: What's Next?"

    Here, we will look at a few of the recent Invasive species to Berkshire County. Rene has first-hand experience with all of them and will discuss their identification, habitat preferences, and why it is important to be on the lookout for them.

    Rene Wendell is a true homegrown naturalist. He has degrees in Environmental Science from both Berkshire Community College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He has been battling invasive species in the Berkshires for almost 20 years. He has done this in some of the most beloved and sensitive habitats including Bartholomew's Cobble and Schenob Brook. He currently works as the Land Steward for The Nature Conservancy where he helps 8,000 acres in Western, MA. He enjoys hiking, wild edibles, collecting, and long walks on the beach looking for shorebirds.

  • Co-Sponsors
  • Unable to attend the event? Make a Donation