Citizen Science

Citizen Science

by Natalie Dubois

Think  fast … who do you think of when you think of a scientist? Is she wearing a lab coat and safety goggles? Maybe he’s out in the field collecting samples on a remote tropical island. Did you think of a group of third grade students monitoring activity in a birdhouse or your neighbor counting the birds visiting her backyard feeder? Did you think it might be you?

Every year, thousands of volunteers make important contributions to bird studies. Some count birds as part of Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (possibly the oldest citizen science effort in history, spanning over 100 years!) or participate in programs such as Project FeederWatch, managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. These and many other local organizations rely on the contributions of volunteers to fill their research and monitoring needs.

The primary job qualification for these citizen scientists is a passion for nature and, for these projects, an interest in birds. And many studies would not be possible without their help. The information citizen scientists collect helps researchers understand avian habitat requirements, changes in bird abundance, and the spread of disease—and informs bird conservation efforts across the country.

Citizen Science Initiatives

  • Harnessing the Power of Citizen Science for Bird Conservation

    by Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
    The latest edition of the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas builds on more than 25,000 volunteer hours from contributors who walked more than one-sixth of Vermont's land to visit all the habitats the state offers.

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  • Working with Citizen Scientists for Wildlife

    by Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
    Ohio conservation efforts involve state citizens, engaging hundreds of wildlife enthusiasts in meaningful data collection to provide seasonal, annual, and long-term changes in wildlife populations.

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  • Involving Students in Bobolink Surveys

    by Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
    In Oregon, the bright and bubbly call of the bobolink is rarely heard. To get a population estimate and determine what habitats the birds use, conservationists have teamed up with a local high school biology teacher to gather data.

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Featured Citizen Science Initiatives

Christmas Bird Count


Great Backyard Bird Count

More about Citizen Science

Audubon Citizen Science Programs

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Citizen Science Programs

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