Big Year Birding – Citizen Science


I may have used this photo of a Grasshopper Sparrow in an earlier post and it continues to be one of my favorite photos of the citizen science season.   I like this photo because it captures, for me, the closest approximation of a view many citizen scientist have enjoyed – that first look of a grassland bird as it surveys its kingdom.

“This little place of grasses and shrubs is mine!”

This year’s grassland citizen science program wrapped up a few months ago, but the memories persist. You know, it’s not only about counting birds and marking maps.

I enjoy the entire experience.  Standing next to my truck, sipping hot coffee, and waiting for enough daylight to walk into the field.  Watching a beautiful sunrise and listening to the morning chorus of bird songs as they welcome the dawn.  Marking the transition from the barren ground of early Spring to the lush grasslands of Summer.  Gathering with fellow citizen scientists, once our surveys are done for the day, for a Jersey diner breakfast of eggs and toast, swapping stories and sharing a laugh or two.

What could be better?

I recently stumbled upon an interesting blog post in Scientific American about citizen science and birding, the small number of people who, like me, gather information and create content that provides benefit to vast numbers of fellow birders.   The blogger presented interesting stats to back up her argument that only 1 percent of birders take the time to generate and share data about bird locations.

One percent.

I don’t know if I agree with her numbers.  But if her research is accurate, I have my own conclusion about the data.   There is, apparently, an enormous opportunity for a whole bunch of birders to get involved in citizen science.

Are you interested in looking for a way to get involved in citizen science?   There’s a great web site to “find out about, take part in, and contribute to science”.  SciStarter was started to “bring together the millions of citizen scientists in the world; the thousands of potential projects offered by researchers, organizations, and companies; and the resources, products, and services that enable citizens to pursue and enjoy these activities.”

If you want to learn more about citizen science, give SciStarter a try.   You never know what amazing experiences may await you.

Until next time – Good Birding!



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