How to help community science in Michigan

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Harvey Farber, left, and Freddy Palma, volunteers with the North Shore Audubon Society, search for birds while conducting a Climate Watch survey at Caumsett State Park Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019 in Lloyd Harbor, New York. The duo, as well as Margaret Kucharski, not pictured, will map out twelve unique locations, using GPS coordinates, throughout the […]

Biologists and other scientists simply cannot be everywhere all the time so they depend on nature lovers and backyard biologists to report what they see.

Community science programs provide essential information to biologists working to better understand wildlife’s fluctuating populations and contribute to conservation efforts. Spring is a great season to begin participating in a community science project.

Birds are especially easy to observe because they are far more conspicuous than mammals, reptiles or other fauna.

Other animals rarely announce themselves with repeated calls or practiced songs the way birds do. Birds are also out and about throughout the day like humans, while many other animals hide during the day and come out at night.

Each year nearly one billion birds die from collisions with buildings in the United States. During migration lit-up skyscrapers confuse a birds navigation systems and glass buildings may not be easy to see during the day. Community science volunteers monitor buildings in Michigan’s urban areas that may pose a danger to migrating birds. The data collected is then used to start conversations with building owners and city officials about making the city a more bird-friendly community. Monitoring buildings for spring migration starts on March 15th and goes until May 31st.

Climate Watch is an innovative community science project that begins May 15th and continue until June 15th. The program is coordinated nationally by Audubon and hopes to improve scientists’ understanding of how birds are responding to climate change.

Detroit Audubon and Detroit City General Services and Parks and Recreation Department partnered to create the Detroit Bird City project. The project will restore five underutilized city-owned parks into intentional meadows. These meadows will provide essential habitat for migrating songbirds, grassland birds and pollinators. To gauge how the restoration efforts impact the wildlife biodiversity within these parks, volunteers are needed for pre- and post-restoration bird surveys or point counts. Point counts are conducted just once a week in June and with a little bit of bird identification training, anyone can perform these bird counts.

Any additional questions on how to get involved can be emailed to   

MI Birds is a public outreach and education program created by Audubon Great Lakes and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Birders and hunters share similar conservation values, but rarely cross paths. MI Birds aims to bridge the divide, and deepen all Michiganders’ engagement in the understanding, care and stewardship of public lands that are important for birds and local communities.

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