The National Science Foundation‘s online magazine, Science Nation, features the latest efforts from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology expanding citizen science program. Lab director and ecologist, Janis Dickinson, discusses how successful the fields of ornithology and astronomy have been in matching professional research activities with hobbyists who thoroughly enjoy doing what they do and simultaneously helping the advancement of science.
In particular, the Lab has been collecting data on nesting events of birds since the 1950s through their Nest Record Card Program. These records are still filed away on little, worn index cards written by amateur observers, but include valuable nesting data, including basic climate information, for the great, great, great, great grandparents of birds in the wild today.
With the funding assistance of the National Science Foundation and the collaborative development from Cornell and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, nesting event data collection has moved into the current century with NestWatch. This online, citizen science data collection tool is an efficient method for anyone interested to learn how to monitor the activity from backyard bird nests, report observations, and explore the activity from other citizen scientists all around North America (view an interactive map of the data).
Simple certification is required before submitting observations, but once set up with an account, anyone using NestWatch will have a great opportunity to help support research that is a critical component to global environmental monitoring. The program is also perfect for families and schools to work with an at-home project that is fun and can lead to many educational moments through spending time outside and looking for bird species and behaviors that you may never have witnessed before.
“Citizen Science” :: A special report from NSF’s Science Nation :: August 30, 2010 :: [ READ ]
Register your backyard nest site with NestWatch [ VISIT ]