Category Archives: Citizen Science

Cornell’s CamClickr (beware!)

Yesterday Cornell’s nestcams Twitter account posted a link to the CamClickr, a project where citizen scientists can help to tag millions of archived nestcam images. I spent way too much time clicking nestcam images yesterday afternoon!

Three Hungry Chicks - May 23rd, 2011
Three Hungry Chicks – May 23rd, 2011 by Ecstatic Mark, Creative Commons on Flickr

The site has a tutorial video that clearly explains everything — the basic concept is that users identify and tag images taken from nestcams. Each session is divided into two parts and the whole experience is set up somewhat like a game. In Level 1 you identify 99 images based on the number of eggs, nestlings or adult birds you see. In Level 2 you tag each image based on the behavior seen. Along the way there are opportunities for you to learn more about the species you are working with. When I was tagging Carolina Chickadee nest images, I found one photo that had two adults in it (jackpot!). I wasn’t familiar with two of the behavior types listed, so I clicked on the glossary to learn more:

Allofeeding: A behavioral event where one adult bird feeds another adult of the same species.

Allopreening: A behavioral event where one bird grooms another ibrd of the same species . Also known as allogrooming.

Helping scientists study birds and learning new stuff?! Cool!

Some of the photos are really hard to figure out, but I kinda think that’s part of the fun. The photos from the nestcams seem to be in sequence so if you can figure out what’s going on in one, it helps when looking at adjacent images. Right now the cam images are of nests at the nestling stage, which means lots of photos of little chick blobs and a parent feeding them. Go check it out – when you have some time to kill! CamClickr

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North American Bird Phenology Program

Do you know about the BPP (Bird Phenology Program)? They currently have a huge initiative to transcribe millions of records about bird migration. The processing of these records is a citizen science project run by the USGS in which anyone with access to a computer can participate.

The North American Bird Phenology Program houses a unique and largely forgotten collection of six million Migration Observer Cards that illuminate migration patterns and population status of birds in North America. These handwritten cards contain almost all of what was known of bird status from the Second World War back to the later part of the 19th century. The bulk of the records are the result of a network of observers who recorded migration arrival dates in the spring and fall that, in its heyday, involved 3000 participants.

Those handwritten cards are being transcribed into an online database by citizen scientist volunteers like you and me! You can become a participant and transcribe scanned cards into online records. If you live in the Baltimore-Washington area, you can also help with scanning the original records. Check out the BPP Website for more information.

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The Painted Bunting Observer Team, or PBOT, is a group of citizen scientists in Florida and the Carolinas who provide data which helps develop strategies to sustain the Bunting’s population. PBOT is a project from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and they need volunteers to join the team. If you’re in the Carolinas or Florida and want to know more, read all about the project and then become a member!

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)
Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) by dominic sherony, Creative Commons on Flickr

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Georgia calls on citizen scientists to help with bird tick study

From The Daily Citizen:

Have you seen a bird with a fat tick stuck to its face? If so, the University of Georgia would like to know about it. In fact, you can participate in a research project by donating the ticks to UGA. […]

Interestingly, if the ticks are removed before the bird develops breathing problems, all these effects will quickly be reversed and the bird will recover and be fine.

If you want to attempt to rescue the bird, recommendations are that you wrap the animal in a towel to keep it from struggling. Pick the ticks off, examining under the feathers carefully to be sure all have been removed. Avian rehabilitators suggest then placing the animal in a large paper bag or box for a few hours to allow it to recover before it is released in the wild, where it might be at a disadvantage if it encountered predators before regaining flight ability.

Full article here.

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UK Birds Abandon Gardens For Country

Results from the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Big Garden Birdwatch revealed a decline in back yard birds across the island nation. Resident and migrant birds have abandoned residential gardens for wilder areas.

The RSPB believes the mild winter across Europe resulted in fewer birds migrating to the UK and more birds feeding in the countryside.

The House Sparrow was the top back yard bird with just under 4.5 per garden.

Read more about the Big Garden Birdwatch.

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New Dutch Bird Survey

Because of a lack of information on city birds in the Netherlands, bird survey organization SOVON plans to conduct a study on the birds that live in urban areas. The survey, known as MUS (Dutch word for Sparrow) will begin in spring 2007.

The Dutch partner of BirdLife International, Vogelbescherming, will conduct the survey in partnership with SOVON.

The groups plan to focus their study on sparrows and swallows, two types of birds that live primarily in urban environments.

Everyone is invited to participate. There will be three survey periods over the year. The first period will be between 1 and 30 April, with volunteers requested to count birds in the morning hours. The second survey period is 15 May until 15 June, again in the morning hours. During the third survey period, 15 June to 15 July, volunteers are asked to count birds in the evening.

Information on joining the survey, which is done without any paperwork (entirely online), can be found at (in Dutch).

Source: Een nieuw telproject voor stadsvogels: MUS

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