Bird Science
Ornithologists study birds.  Their study ranges from studying bird behavior to diseases and from life processes to bird habitats.  They work in research labs and in field settings.  Labs such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon Science Centers often have projects where volunteer involvement can make a big difference in the extent of their work. When volunteers participate, they call this Citizen Science.

Conserving Birds in the Florida Mangroves

Drs. John D. Lloyd and Gary Slater of Ecostudies Institute are studying bird habitats in the mangroves of Florida.  With support from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Park Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, they are conducting a survey of mangrove avifauna.  Beginning in 2008 they have collected data on the abundance, distribution, and habitat use of birds in mangroves.  Their short-term goals are to estimate population size and determine habitat requirements of birds breeding in these forests.   Ultimately, they will set up protocols for monitoring of birds in mangrove habitats over a longer term.  Of particular interest are the Mangrove Cuckoo, Black-whiskered Vireo, Florida Prairie Warbler and Cuban Yellow Warbler who rely on mangrove habitats. 

Results thus far point to a mangrove bird community dominated by the Northern Cardinal, White-eyed Vireo, and Red-bellied Woodpecker.  A second group includes the American Crow, Florida Prairie Warbler, and Great-crested Flycatcher.  Less frequent were the Cuban Yellow Warblers in the Florida Keys who appear to be expanding northward.  Rarely detected were the Black-whiskered Vireos that generally occur in mangrove forests.  Mangrove Cuckoos were found in only a handful along the fringes of Biscayne Bay in southeastern Florida.  Further intensive survey methods will be required to tract this group of birds with their secretive behavior.  Amateur ornithologists are invited to assist as citizen scientists in this ongoing study.  Click here for the complete article describing this study.

Bird Stewards and Government Aid Nesting Birds Statewide

Birds nesting on beaches are threatened by beach walkers, drivers, and unusually high tides during stormy weather.  Closing of portions of the beach during nesting season or roping off sections of the beach are important governmental actions.  Educating the public on ways to protect nests and chicks traveling between dunes to water areas is a role volunteers often play in St. Johns County.

Volunteers also have been making a big difference in survival of young Least Terns whose natural habitat was destroyed by development.  Volunteers in Jacksonville walk around the Gateway Mall looking for chicks who have fallen from their roof-top nests and return them with the help of a homemade "chick-a-boom" pole.

Red Knots landed at Huguenot Memorial Park in May for refueling on their way to Arctic breeding grounds.  US Fish and Wildlife leaders with committed volunteers staffed the first-ever protection effort of migrating Red Knots under the park's new management plan.  A temporary buffer of cones and signs were set up at every receding tide to help knots feed undisturbed.

Birders Needed to Monitor Nesting Birds

While birders close to the path of oil monitor effects of contamination there, other bird watchers are needed to monitor nesting inland birds who pass through or winter in the Gulf region. 
Click here for details on ways to get involved.

Seabird Restoration

Seven field stations on islands in Maine are breeding grounds for puffins, terns, and other seabirds.  The summer field sessions have ended and a report is available. Click here to read the latest Project Puffin News.    


Audubon of Florida

Audubon of Florida invites its members to contribute to scientific observations and conservation projects.  Audubon EagleWatch is affiliated with the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in central Florida.  More than 250 volunteers monitor 165 nests of eagles throughout the state.  They locate nests and rescue injured eagles and eaglets (after storms and from development activities).  Project Colony Watch trains volunteers to help protect local waterbird nesting colonies across Florida.  Audubon's Tavernier Science Center bands birds that help identify environmental problems.  Roseate Spoonbill Band Re-Sightings involves volunteers in recording sightings of banded Roseate Spoonbills. Learn more

National Audubon Society

National Audubon Society sponsors the Christmas Bird Count.  Volunteers nationwide participate in an all day bird count of early-winter bird populations throughout the United States of America.  This annual event contributes data useful in monitoring changes in the bird population.   It also gives volunteers an opportunity to hone birding skills as well as meet other local volunteers.  Learn more at

National Audubon Society also partners with other groups in special projects.  In partnership with Cornell lab of Ornithology chapters participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count that is held on Presidents' Day Weekend.  Last year over 97,000 checklists were submitted.  See the results at  Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology also partnered to develop a website where birdwatchers can submit sightings online to add to the database of bird movements and distributions.  For details go to


Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides a wide array of Citizen Science Projects:

  • Great Backyard Bird Count
  • Project FeederWatch
  • NestWatch
  • PigeonWatch
  • Priority Migrant eBird
  • Birds in Forested Landscapes
  • House Finch Disease Survey
  • BirdSleuth
  • Celebrate Urban Birds
  • CamClickr 

Project Feeder Watch

Project Feeder Watch begins its 24th season November 13, 2010.  Learn how you can participate by clicking here.

Read about other science projects at

Bird Chow Challenge

Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology is offering a Bird Chow Challenge.  Submit photos, videos, or artwork of birds feeding.  Click here for details. 

For information on local projects such as Project Perch for Burrowing Owls and Project Eagle Watch  go to the Bird Projects page.

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