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Hans Morris Reservation

Birding in Massachusetts

Hans Morris Reservation
Greenbelt, Essex County’s Land Trust

Middle Road
Newbury, Massachusetts 01951
Hans Morris Reservation webpage

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Essex County

Hans Morris Reservation
Coordinates: 42.777158, -70.887259
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About Hans Morris Reservation
An expansive meadow active with many grassland birds welcomes you to a forest of mixed woods bordered by wetlands, home to beaver and waterfowl. Beyond the stone wall, trails through a wooded upland lead to a boardwalk and wetlands that abut the Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area.

Prior to English colonization, this was a wooded area. In times past Indigenous peoples would have harvested fibers from the sedges and rushes growing along the stream to twist into cordage.

They would have netted migratory birds in the spring and hunted turkeys, ducks, and geese during the fall fowling season. To snare large birds taking flight the people threw bolas—three or four small stones attached to cords with the ends secured in one knot. The device entangled the bird’s legs to bring it down without harming the feathers, which were as important to Indigenous people as the meat.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, approximately 80 percent of Massachusetts’ forests were cleared for agriculture. The hayfields and pastures provided sanctuary to birds, insects, and small animals until the farms were abandoned, and land began to revert back to the forest. To prevent the loss of this meadow to a successional forest, Greenbelt actively manages the property for grassland birds, mowing the field after the nesting season.

A meandering stream through wetlands dominated by sedges and rushes separates the grasslands from a mixed hardwood/conifer forest. Wildflowers abound from late May through June.

The superb grassland habitat attracts invertebrates, including dragonflies, butterflies, and damselflies. Bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks are known to nest successfully in June and July, and eastern wild turkeys are common all year. The large beaver-flooded wetland attracts wood ducks and other waterfowl.
From Hans Morris Reservation webpage