Citizen science projects rely on public contributors to collect data used to inform conservation efforts. These initiatives provide impactful hands-on opportunities for teen birders to apply their skills.
This article explores global and local programs youth can join to contribute important observations that protect biodiversity. Your involvement fuels research supporting the birds you care about.
NestWatch engages the public in monitoring nesting birds, an effort relying heavily on teen involvement. Participants adopt nest boxes or monitor natural nests, tracking information like eggs laid, hatch dates, and fledgling numbers.
The data reveals long-term trends in breeding productivity to guide habitat management decisions. With training, teens can regularly check adopted boxes in their yards or communities.
Project FeederWatch is perfect for teens to participate in right from home. This initiative by the Cornell Lab invites people to count birds visiting feeders and submit data online or by mail.
Tallying sightings over winter helps scientists study impacts of supplementary feeding and understand winter distribution changes. Teens simply need to watch their feeders for couple hours each week from November to April, recording the highest number of each species seen at once.
eBird allows users of all ages to submit bird sightings and checklists from anywhere in the world through their mobile app or website.
This massive global database maintained by the Cornell Lab tracks species distribution, abundance trends over time, and occurrence of rare birds.
Uploading data informs bird conservation decisions and helps protect populations. Teens can easily contribute data while out birding or from home, which informs conservation decisions and helps protect populations.
Christmas Bird Count
Teens can help with one of the longest running citizen science bird projects – the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
Dating back to 1900, this early citizen science initiative rallies volunteers of all ages to conduct bird censuses in their local area during the festive season.
Getting involved continues a 120+ year tradition of community science helping researchers understand winter bird populations and how they have changed over time.
Like a bird count focused on lepidopterans, the Butterfly Count engages public volunteers in censusing butterflies and submitting data to a massive global database.
Areas hold annual counts and provide training for new counters. Teens can take part to contribute sightings and photos that inform butterfly conservation. Developing butterfly ID skills as a fun supplementary nature activity offers additional learning opportunities.
Bird Genos allows students to become bird geneticists through a unique classroom citizen science project. Students are sent genetic samples from various bird species to amplify and analyze using provided lab materials.
Submitting their results contributes to better understanding evolutionary relationships and conservation genetics of birds. This hands-on lab experience allows teens to unlock avian mysteries.
Project Puffin invites seabird fans to report puffin sightings and help restore populations. Continued monitoring is needed even after successful restoration at historic nesting islands.
Teens can submit puffin observations through the Seabird Ecological Assessment Network.
Swift Night Out
Swift Night Out engages public help tracking chimney swift nest and roost sites during summer months.
Reporting observations provides data on these declining aerial migrants to support protection efforts. Listening for their unique twittering reveals where swifts nest in your area.
Contacting local Audubon chapters and refuges can connect teens with specialized bird census efforts needing volunteers.
Assisting student researchers with data collection for publications or graduate work builds key skills.
Look for opportunities to support your community’s avian study efforts and local teen science fairs.
Getting teens Involved in citizen science
With many global and local citizen science options, teens can find the right fit based on interests, time, and mobility. Consider seasonal projects allowing contributions from home like FeederWatch over winter.
For year-round engagement, eBird and NestWatch make participation easy through user-friendly online interfaces. Pursue local projects to connect with the community.
Using Citizen Science within school
In a school setting, connecting citizen science projects with habitat enrichment projects can be very meaningful for students.
Through citizen science projects, students gain exposure to the scientific method in an engaging outdoor setting and understand their role in conserving habitats. Teenagers witness directly how their collection of data on birds makes a significant contribution to conservation.
Simple bird counts of species diversity and population levels over time lets students observe the impacts of their efforts. More extensive surveys, like Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch, can connect students to a broader community of bird researchers and naturalists.
Nest box monitoring provides insight into breeding and nesting behaviors. Have students record observations and submit data to online databases, local conservancies, or university birding groups.
Integrate citizen science into math, science, and environmental studies curriculum by teaching students how to capture, analyze, and interpret bird data.
Field trips to bird banding stations allow students to see mist netting and bird banding up close, and learn about migration patterns.
Our birds will benefit greatly from your help!
Citizen Science for Teen Birders – which opportunities will you choose?
Bird-loving teens can contribute data powering avian research and conservation. Citizen science projects rely on public contributors like young people to collect information for conservation efforts.
These initiatives provide impactful hands-on opportunities for teen birders to apply their skills. In this article we have explored global and local programs youth can join to contribute important observations.
Consider getting involved with one of the many global programs or local projects needing public participation. Your involvement fuels research protecting the birds you care about.
Even small actions like reporting sightings from your backyard make a big difference over time. Together we can ensure a bright future for the birds we cherish.
- 1 NestWatch
- 2 Project FeederWatch
- 3 eBird
- 4 Christmas Bird Count
- 5 Butterfly Count
- 6 Bird Genos
- 7 Project Puffin
- 8 Swift Night Out
- 9 Local Opportunities
- 10 Getting teens Involved in citizen science
- 11 Using Citizen Science within school
- 12 Citizen Science for Teen Birders – which opportunities will you choose?