For those people who have hundreds of birds listed on their lifetime bird checklist and those who just enjoy leaning back into their plush chair and watching the birds from their window, there are many Citizen Science projects for those who enjoy watching birds.
One of the first recorded citizen scientist projects on birds was initiated by a member of the American Ornithologists’ Union back in the late 1800s. The North American Bird Phenology Program asked regular citizens to observe birds to help the government track migration patterns.
Today, millions of people around the world are contributing to bird study as a casual hobby—and it’s changing their lives. Studies are showing that citizen science is connecting us all back to nature, helping us understand conservation, and fostering an appreciation of the outdoors. With the ease of watching birds from your office or living room and using free apps on your cell phone to record what you see, more and more people are becoming involved.
One popular app that millions use is ebird. Ebird is one of several citizen scientist projects of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Their website is a great place to start to look at a variety of bird studies you can be involved in. You also don’t need to know anything about birds to get involved with these studies. The site will help you recognize birds by their appearance & habits as well as by their birdsong.
The Schlagle Library participates in Cornell’s FeederWatch every year between November and April. We watch the birds at the feeders from our library windows throughout the day for a few days a week. It doesn’t take much time, but is so rewarding on a cold gray day when a Cardinal’s vibrant red feathers brighten up the trees.
A more recent Cornell project called Celebrate Urban Birds focuses on reaching out to all the diverse populations of people throughout the world. Their website states that
Celebrate Urban Birds strives to co-create bilingual inclusive, equity-based community science projects that serve communities that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from birding, conservation, and citizen science.
This website also includes multiple links for topics like gardening, wellness, art, and nature journaling.
While Cornell has many great citizen science projects on birds there are many many more out there. Check out this extensive list of projects from Birdwatching magazine.