December 2021

Vol. 49, No. 6

Staff Change: Where to go Birding (WTG) Editor

Marsha C. Salett

Nate Marchessault Retires and Matt Sanda Joins the Editorial Staff

Thank You, Nate Marchessault

I became acquainted with Nate Marchessault in fall 2017 when he wrote a long, thorough, detailed article, “Birding Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester, Massachusetts.” (Bird Observer December 2017, 45 (6)365–376) It was clear that this was his patch; he seemed to know every bird in every thicket and water body in all three towns during all four seasons. Nate’s Where to Go Birding article shone the spotlight on one of the lesser-known birding territories in Plymouth County.

A year after writing that article and a few Field Notes, Nate became our Where to Go Birding (WTG) editor. Nate remembers our first meeting, “You, Wayne Petersen, and I met at your old house in Orleans and you cooked us a nice meal to go over everything.” We hit it off and Nate took on the position of WTG editor.

Here’s why Nate took the position:

I was interested in becoming editor for the WTG section for several reasons. I thought Bird Observer was a fantastic and important journal, and I enjoyed the prospect of an opportunity to contribute. On a personal level, being WTG editor allowed me to learn about birding locations both near and far and pushed me out of my comfort zone to network with people all throughout New England. One of my favorite aspects of the position was the opportunity to get younger birders published.

For the past four years, Nate has solicited Where to Go Birding articles from all over Massachusetts and other New England states and has been the liaison between authors and Bird Observer’s mapmaker, Jill Moonheron. He has, indeed, met his objective of publishing young birders’ articles. When a potential author backed out or missed a deadline, Nate always remained unruffled, found another author (sometimes me), and occasionally wrote a last-minute article himself. He contributed other WTG articles, including “Winter Birding on Cape Cod: Provincetown to the Orleans Rotary” (Bird Observer December 2018, 46 (6):349-364), which became part of our booklet, “A Guide to Winter Birding on Cape Cod,” available through our online store ( Thank you, Nate, for your excellent and comprehensive work!

In addition to his position as WTG editor, Nate works as a microbiologist in Falmouth, Massachusetts. He is president of the South Shore Bird Club and is its representative for the Association of Massachusetts Bird Clubs.

Always professional, organized, diligent, and fun to have at staff meetings, Nate will be missed. Fortunately, he is not leaving Bird Observer. Starting January 1, 2022, Nate will be joining our Board of Directors.

Welcome, Matt Sanda

Matt Sanda responded to our ad looking for a WTG editor, noting that “the recruitment and article pipeline generation, project management, and figuring out ways to get things done” had parallels to his full-time job as an operations executive at a small software start-up. I thought that Matt’s enthusiasm for birding and sharing it with other people was even more impressive than his work skills, which are a necessary part of this position.

What attracted Matt to the position of WTG editor for Bird Observer?

As a child, Matt developed a small obsession with the Eastern Towhee when visiting his grandmother’s cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He was reintroduced to birdwatching by a coworker in time for the spring migration of 2018, shortly after receiving his first pair of binoculars as a gift from his father. An avid hiker, swimmer, and lover of nature, he became fascinated by the diverse colors, calls, and habits of the hundreds of species that he had overlooked or ignored for years. In the process of exploring the swamps, mountains, beaches, and woods of New England to learn the birds of the area, he brought his wife Olivia, brother Greg, and brother’s fiancée Shannon into the lifestyle.

Matt spent late nights scouring satellite maps and eBird hotspots for places to go birding until he eventually discovered Bird Observer’s Where to Go Birding, which guided him and his brother to Spruce Grouse, Red Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Bohemian Waxwings, and a Black-backed Woodpecker on a late-autumn trip to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Matt joins Bird Observer, taking the reins of editing Where to Go Birding from Nate Marchessault, to help document both the well-known hotspots and to shed light on many overlooked—and sometimes threatened—nooks and crannies favored by birders in communities across New England. In doing so, he hopes to help others discover and document the biodiversity of their own backyards or sanctuaries that may be just a short drive away. You might run into Matt birding Franklin Park and the Arnold Arboretum, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Fowl Meadow in Norwood, or many of the far-afield biomes throughout New England.

Welcome, Matt!

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