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How Community Science Helps Birds

Whether it is fighting the corona virus or being courteous on the freeway, the platitude that “it takes a village” has never been truer. If pandemic cloistering has you wondering how to be of service, and you want to help birds, Audubon is the place for you.

Over 100 years ago, Audubon paved the way for community members to make meaningful contributions to a somewhat elitist scientific society. Christmas Bird Counts, a come-one-come-all day long bird count, started as a replacement to a 24 hour bird shooting spree, but ended up being the largest and longest-running bird survey effort in the world. We rely on these data today because they paint pictures in time of bird populations that would not have been possible without a continuous effort over a century.

Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge of our time, and all hands are needed on deck. Audubon’s landmark report, Survival by Degrees documents alarming changes to bird populations over broad landscapes. Christmas Bird Count information, as well as other data gathered by community scientists, provides the basis for these findings and YOU can help now. If you can learn to identify a single bird species (by sight and/or sound), consider joining a Climate Watch effort near you. This program uses a simple protocol to track single species in order to assess habitat quality and document range change. Target birds are fun to learn about and in our southwestern landscape, they include Mountain and Western Bluebirds, as well as White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Further, observers need only select a pre-determined survey area and run a simple survey twice annually. The spring survey period begins on May 15 and runs through June 15—so now is the time to reach out! This nationwide project is overseen by regional coordinators and the following areas in the southwest need help:

AZ- SE Arizona: contact Tracey Raskauskas

AZ-Tucson: contact Olya Phillips

NM-Glorieta: contact Albert Shultz

Hope to see you out in the field, and happy birding!

How you can help, right now