Citizen Science

The incoming administration has not shown a great deal of interest in climate change or in science generally so it is up to those of us who care to do our part.  We can contribute to worthy organizations.  We can participate in protests against fracking and building more pipelines.  And we can submit observations to organizations that depend on Citizen Science.

I think we have all heard of the canary in the coal mine, but patterns of bird migration are also signs of change.  This will be the 4th winter my husband and I have participated in Feeder Watch.  Before that, we reported for the Christmas Day Count and other particular days.  If you live in the United States or in Canada and have at least one bird feeder, you can sign up for a modest cost and report the birds that come visit.  It is pretty simple.  Sign-up and you get a packet that explains what to do and how to report. Pick two consecutive days a week and report through the winter.

A Tufted Titmouse at one of our feeder a few winters ago.

A Tufted Titmouse at one of our feeder a few winters ago.

But what if you don’t have a feeder or live in the US or Canada?  Regardless of where you live you can report what you see on eBird.  I report birds we see on walks and when we travel as well as bird during Feeder Watch.  When we started, I could tell Blue Jays and Cardinals from House Sparrows, but saw many birds I couldn’t identify.   Gradually, you can learn who almost everyone is – even the same individual who comes often to the feeder.  Feeder Watch provides a helpful chart of common birds and Cornell University has a great online ID program.

If you are like me and feeling depressed about the results of the recent election, take some positive action and sign up for Feeder Watch.

 

 

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