The Massachusetts Audubon Society began as the idea of two Back Bay women in 1896 who were talking about their dislike of dead birds displayed on ladies' hats over tea one day. Thinking it was a cruel practice, the two women discussed how nice it would be to have a place where birds could live in a protected environment.
From that unusual conversation more than a century ago, Audubon has grown into more than 40 nature and wildlife preserves all over the state. Local historian and Audubon educator John Galluzzo has compiled the organization's rich history into a book - "Images of America: Mass Audubon."
"This wasn't just all open farm land at one point, there are stories that go along with this," Galluzzo said last week from the North River Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield where he works.
"Looking around at all the different wildlife sanctuaries around the state, there are more than 40 of them, I realized that each one had a story to tell."
Galluzzo, 34, still lives in his native Hull but became a member of Mass Audubon in Marshfield in 1997. Two years ago he began working for Audubon. A local historian and author, Galluzzo who has a weekly history column in the Scituate Mariner, has appeared on the History Channel, Learning Channel and other television programs. This latest book, which is part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series is his 13th.
In the work, Galluzzo covers about 16 of Audubon's sanctuaries - all the preserves with major staffing, Galluzzo said. Researching the book took him from the hills of Lenox in western Massachusetts to the beaches of Wellfleet on Cape Cod.
"I can now go to a lot of these sanctuaries around the state and tell the back story as well," Galluzzo said. "Now that I've been to all these places and I've visited them all and learned all their histories I feel like I can go to a lot of them around the state and lead tourists. I can bring people from Marshfield and this area out to all these other properties."