Year-round citizen-science projects

American Oystercatcher at Stone Harbor, New Jersey, by Harris Brown.
American Oystercatcher at Stone Harbor, New Jersey, by Harris Brown.

We love eagle watches, bird surveys, loon counts, breeding bird atlases, and other citizen-science projects. They’re fun and interesting, they’re a good way to make friends, and they’re a superb way to advance bird conservation.

The list below presents worthy projects that take place year-round. We’ve organized them alphabetically, from American Kestrel to Woodpeckers, by species or type of project.

Please help us keep the list up to date. If you’d like to add a project, or if you find an invalid link, email address, or phone number, please let us know. Send an email to [email protected].

Last updated: March 27, 2015

American Kestrel

American Kestrel Partnership
Peregrine Fund
WHAT: Build or buy, install, and monitor one or more kestrel nest boxes, and then enter your monitoring data through your partner profile on the partnership website.
WEB: kestrel.peregrinefund.org
CONTACT: [email protected], (208) 362-3716

See photos of American Kestrel.

American Oystercatcher

Report a Banded American Oystercatcher
American Oystercatcher Working Group, Audubon North Carolina, National Fish and Wildlife Federation
WHAT: Report the location, color, and type of bands you observe on an American Oystercatcher.
WEB: amoywg.org
CONTACT: Ted Simons, [email protected], (919) 515-2689

See photos of American Oystercatcher.

Aquatic Birds

Florida Lakewatch Aquatic Bird Survey
University of Florida IFAS
WHAT: Record and report the number and species of each aquatic bird observed on a lake, or record both the birds and their surrounding habitat.
WEB: lakewatch.ifas.ufl.edu/AquatBird.htm
CONTACT: [email protected], (352) 392-4817

Promote your project!

Please add to this list of citizen-science projects. Send an email to [email protected] containing the following information:

1. Name of project
2. Name of coordinating organization
3. Start and end dates
4. A brief description
5. Web address
6. Name of a contact person
7. Contact person’s email address and phone number

Bill Deformities

Big Garden Beak Watch (UK)
British Trust for Ornithology
WHAT: Report a bird with a deformed beak.
WEB: www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw/about/background/projects/bgbw
CONTACT: Garden Ecology Team, [email protected]

Bill Deformities in Songbirds
Rouge River Bird Observatory
WHAT: Report passerines with bill deformities (primarily crossed or overgrown bills).
WEB: www.rrbo.org/conservation-science/research/bird-banding/bill-deformities/
CONTACT: Julie Craves, [email protected], (313) 593-5338

Birds with Deformed Bills
Rouge River Bird Observatory (Flickr)
WHAT: Share a photo of a bird with a deformed bill, along with the date the photo was taken, the location, including nearest city and county, the species if known, and any additional details.
WEB: www.flickr.com/groups/badbills/
CONTACT: Julie Craves, [email protected], (313) 593-5338

Report a Bird with a Deformed Beak
USGS Alaska Science Center
WHAT: Report a bird with a deformed beak or a banded bird.
WEB: alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/landbirds/beak_deformity/observerreport.php
CONTACT: [email protected]

Bird Monitoring

Audubon Starr Ranch Citizen Science (California)
Audubon Starr Ranch Sanctuary, Trabuco Canyon, California
WHAT: Choose from a number of research projects, including point counts in coastal sage scrub; phenology of birds, butterflies, and plants in two rare habitats; banding breeding and overwintering songbirds.
WEB: www.starrranch.org/newvolunteer.html
CONTACT: Sandy DeSimone, [email protected], (949) 858-0309

Bird Conservation Network’s Survey (Illinois and Indiana)
Bird Conservation Network
WHAT: Choose a site at a natural area in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana and make repeated visits to it to monitor breeding birds following professionally recommended scientific protocols. Prospective monitors should know common midwestern birds by sight and sound and be able to make repeated visits to their chosen site, preferably over a number of years.
WEB: www.bcnbirds.org
CONTACT: Lee Ramsey, [email protected], (847) 501-4683

Celebrate Urban Birds
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
WHAT: Watch and listen for 16 species of birds for 10 minutes in an urban area and then report your observations.
WEB: celebrateurbanbirds.org
CONTACT: Karen Purcell, [email protected], (607) 254-2455

Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve Avian Survey Project
Kirtland Bird Club and Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society
WHAT: Conduct systematic point counts at least weekly throughout the year at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve on the shore of Lake Erie east of Cleveland Ohio. Count protocols and timing are coordinated with those used at banding stations at the nearby Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and at Black Swamp Bird Observatory, on the Lake Erie shore 120 kilometers to the west.
WEB: www.kirtlandbirdclub.org or wcasohio.org/1_Stage/preserve/14-clnp-surveys2
CONTACT: Laura Gooch, [email protected]

eBird
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
WHAT: Report bird sightings into a global online checklist program that gathers information on bird distribution and abundance.
WEB: ebird.org/content/ebird/
CONTACT: Chris Wood, Brian Sullivan, Marshall Iliff, [email protected]

Garden Birdwatch (UK)
British Trust for Ornithology
WHAT: Collect information about the birds using your garden across Britain and Ireland and report it weekly throughout the year.
WEB: www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw
CONTACT: [email protected], +44 (0)1842 750050

Neighborhood Bird Project (Washington)
Seattle Audubon Society
WHAT: Every month on the same day, conduct surveys on urban bird species at eight city parks in Seattle.
WEB: www.seattleaudubon.org/sas/WhatWeDo/Science/CitizenScience/NeighborhoodBirdProject.aspx
CONTACT: Toby Ross, [email protected], (206) 523-8243

Northwest Territories/Nunavut Bird Checklist Survey
Environment Canada Canadian Wildlife Service
WHAT: Record data on a standard form from one location for one calendar day anywhere you would go birding. Time commitment equals the time you spend birding plus time filling out a form.
WEB: www.ec.gc.ca/reom-mbs/default.asp?lang=En&n=60E48D07-1
CONTACT: [email protected], (867) 669-4771

Penguin Watch
Zooniverse
WHAT: Tag images taken by remote cameras set up at penguin colonies across the Southern Ocean to help scientists learn more about the birds. Follow the short tutorial on the website to get started.
WEB: www.penguinwatch.org and www.facebook.com/PenguinZoo
CONTACT: talk.penguinwatch.org

California Condor

Condor Watch
Zooniverse
WHAT: To help scientists assess whether a condor’s feeding or social interactions indicate lead poisoning, look at photos taken by motion-activated cameras and report the tag number of each condor and describe its behavior around the feeding area.
WEB: www.condorwatch.org, blog

Read an article about Condor Watch.

Report a California Condor Sighting
Zoological Society of San Diego
WHAT: Report and describe sightings of California Condors.
WEB: cacondorconservation.org/did-you-see-a-california-condor-let-us-know/
CONTACT: [email protected]

Colonial Birds

Project Colonywatch (Florida)
Space Coast Audubon Society, Audubon of Florida
WHAT: To protect important breeding colonies, volunteers perform census counts, monitor, join cleanup projects, remove nonnative plants, and take part in other projects in Brevard County.
WEB: www.spacecoastaudubon.org/limpkin/050101Limpkin/ProjectColonyWatch.html
CONTACT: Jason Frederick, [email protected], (321) 449-9678

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl Vocal Study
International Owl Center
WHAT: Watch live streaming video of a breeding pair of untamed non-releasable Great Horned Owls throughout the year and submit online observations of vocalizations and behavior for the researchers to review. The goals are to document the complete vocal repertoire and associated behavioral context and to document the development of the territorial hoot in young owls.
WEB: www.internationalowlcenter.org/ourowls/rustyandiris/livecams
CONTACT: Karla Bloem, [email protected], (507) 896-4668

Read about the hunting and breeding habits of Great Horned Owl.

See photos of Great Horned Owl.

Habitat

YardMap
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
WHAT: Draw a map of your backyard, park, farm, favorite birding location, school, or garden to cultivate a richer understanding of bird habitat. Use tools to make better decisions about managing landscapes sustainably.
WEB: yardmap.org
CONTACT: Rhiannon Crain, [email protected], (607) 254-2450 or (800) 843-2473

Hummingbirds

Operation Rubythroat
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History
WHAT: Observe Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and share information with peers across North and Central America.
WEB: www.rubythroat.org/DetailsMain.html
CONTACT: Bill Hilton Jr., [email protected], (803) 684-5852

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Important Bird Areas

Canada’s Important Bird Areas Program
Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada
WHAT: Conduct monitoring, stewardship, and educational activities as a member of the Important Bird Areas Caretaker Network.
WEB: www.ibacanada.ca/care_program.jsp?lang=EN
CONTACT: Bird Studies Canada, [email protected], (888) 448-2473; Nature Canada, [email protected], (800) 267-4088.

Merlin

Coastal Forest Merlin Project (Washington and British Columbia)
Merlin Falcon Foundation
WHAT: Report sightings of Merlins in Washington and British Columbia.
WEB: merlinfalconfoundation.org/wanted/
CONTACT: David Drummond, [email protected], (360) 671-3804

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting Observer Team
University of North Carolina Wilmington
WHAT: Record sightings of Painted Buntings at backyard bird feeders and in designated private or protected areas in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
WEB: www.paintedbuntings.org/home
CONTACT: [email protected]

See photos of Painted Bunting.

Phenology

North American Bird Phenology Program
USGS, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
WHAT: Between 1880 and 1970, a network of volunteers recorded information on first arrival dates, maximum abundance, and departure dates of migratory birds across North America. Their observations exist today as a historic collection of six million cards, illuminating almost a century of migration patterns and population changes. To curate the data and make them publicly available, the records are being scanned and placed on the Internet. Volunteers are needed to transcribe the records and add them into a database for analysis.
WEB: www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/
CONTACT: Jessica Zelt, [email protected], (301) 497-5745

Roseate Spoonbill

Report a Spoonbill Sighting (Florida)
Audubon of Florida, Tavernier Science Center
WHAT: Report sightings of banded Roseate Spoonbills in Florida to help illuminate dispersal from natal colonies and determine age at maturity, longevity, and other life metrics.
WEB: web1.audubon.org/spoonbill/
CONTACT: [email protected], (305) 852-5318

Read why the fate of the Everglades is tied to the fortunes of Roseate Spoonbill.

See photos of Roseate Spoonbill.

Sandhill Crane

Report a Banded Sandhill Crane
International Crane Foundation
WHAT: Report sightings of Sandhill Cranes wearing colored leg bands.
WEB: www.savingcranes.org/banded-crane-sighting.html
CONTACT: Anne Lacy, International Crane Foundation Field Ecology Department, 608-356-9462 x146, [email protected]

How to add or update a project listing

Please help us keep this list up to date. To add a citizen-science project, or to update an invalid link, email address, or phone number, please send an email to [email protected].

Seabirds

Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (Pacific coast)
University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, Seattle
WHAT: Attend a six-hour COASST training session, then survey a beach of your choice in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, or Hawaii every month.
WEB: depts.washington.edu/coasst/
CONTACT: Erika Frost, [email protected], (206) 221-6893

Swallow-tailed Kite

Report a Swallow-tailed Kite
Center for Birds of Prey, Awendaw, South Carolina
WHAT: Report where and when you see a Swallow-tailed Kite and describe its behavior.
WEB: www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org/swallowtail-kite.php
CONTACT: Kara Viacrucis, [email protected], (866) 971-7474 (STKI Hotline)

See photos of Swallow-tailed Kite.

Transcription

Smithsonian Transcription Projects
Smithsonian
WHAT: Transcribe historic documents and collection records to facilitate research and inspire learning. Projects include transcribing field journals from naturalists such as Florence Merriam Bailey (1863-1948), who was at the forefront of a movement to study living birds in the field.
WEB: transcription.si.edu

Tricolored Blackbird

Report a Banded Tricolored Blackbird
Information Center for the Environment, University of California, Davis
WHAT: Report where and when you see a Tricolored Blackbird, including the band colors on each leg.
WEB: tricolor.ice.ucdavis.edu/node/3514

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan Sightings
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
WHAT: Report date, time, and location of sightings of Trumpeter Swans, along with the color of wing tags, collar, or any other markers, to the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program.
WEB: www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/projects/trumpeterswan/helping.html
CONTACT: DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, 888-MINNDNR

Whooping Crane

Report a Whooping Crane Sighting (Eastern U.S.)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region
WHAT: Report sightings of Whooping Cranes in the eastern United States.
WEB: www.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/sightings/sightingform.cfm

Report a Whooping Crane Sighting (Western U.S.)
Whooping Crane Conservation Association
WHAT: Report sightings of Whooping Cranes in the western United States to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Canadian Wildlife Service.
WEB: whoopingcrane.com/report-a-sighting/
CONTACT: whoopingcrane.com/contact-wcca/

Texas Whooper Watch
Wildlife Diversity Program, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
WHAT: Report sightings of Whooping Cranes in Texas. Then, if the cranes remain in an area for an extended period of time, gather data on movements and behavior.
WEB: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/texas_nature_trackers/whooper- watch/report.phtml/
CONTACT: [email protected], (512) 389-TXWW (8999)

See photos of nine young Whooping Cranes and their costumed handlers.

Window Collisions

Birds and Windows (Canada)
University of Alberta
WHAT: To help understand what can be done to reduce bird-window collisions at home, think about bird-window collisions you have observed and search around your residence regularly for evidence of collisions. This project is Canada-wide and will run until April 2015.
WEB: birdswindows.biology.ualberta.ca/
CONTACT: Justine Kummer, [email protected], (780) 720-7684

Window-Collision Monitoring (Toronto)
Fatal Light Awareness Program
WHAT: Rescue birds injured after striking buildings in the greater Toronto area, and teach people how they can prevent window strikes.
WEB: www.flap.org
CONTACT: Michael Mesure, [email protected], (416) 366-3527

Wisconsin Night Guardians for Song Birds (Milwaukee)
Wisconsin Humane Society
WHAT: Building owners and managers, companies who lease space in larger buildings, and employees whose offices have exterior windows can take action to help prevent bird-window collisions.
WEB: www.wihumane.org/wildlife/wings
CONTACT: Scott Diehl, [email protected], (414) 431-6204

Read about 15 products that prevent bird-window collisions.

Woodpeckers

Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery
Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis
WHAT: Reverse the precipitous decline and promote the recovery of Red-headed Woodpeckers through habitat creation and restoration, research, and public education.
WEB: redheadrecovery.org
CONTACT: Chet Meyers, [email protected], (612) 374-5581

See photos of Red-headed Woodpecker.