February 2023

Vol. 51, No. 1

Birding Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area, and Hanson and Halifax, Massachusetts

Nate Marchessault

Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a name that has become more and more common among birders, herpers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, and dog walkers. This location has something for everyone. From a birder’s perspective, the recent appearances of chase-worthy rarities— annually-breeding Sandhill Cranes and at least one breeding pair of King Rails in 2016—has made this approximately 1,700-acre Wildlife Management Area a worthwhile place to visit; once here, you will realize how beautiful and birdy it is.

The history of the area was covered previously in Bird Observer elegantly and in detail by Kathleen (Betty) Anderson and Wayne Petersen (2004). The focus of this article is twofold: 1) birding the site, and 2) standardizing nomenclature for sections of the WMA that birders can reference to find birds more easily. Late April to mid-May is probably the best time for cranes and rails, but birding here is productive year-round.

This article describes one long route, but the area is vast, and you may not cover it in one visit. Unless you desire to do a lot of walking, park nearest the area that you want to explore. There are four parking areas at the WMA conveniently spaced at each of the four corners. On the southwest and west are two lots off Elm Street in Halifax; to the northeast is a small parking lot just past the train tracks on Crooker Place in Hanson; and to the east is a large parking lot off Hawks Avenue in Hanson, the most frequently used lot (42.030651, -70.856614).

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