by Bonnie Beers
During my career as a special educator, I worked with groups of students for whom time was at a premium. As we moved through lessons and activities, I often found myself asking what I call the ‘So What?’ questions. So What? Is this lesson worth their time? Why does this skill matter? Does it expand their educational, vocational, or personal pathways? What steps need to happen to make a skill more than an addition to a bag of tricks?
Reading through the blog entries about recent studies that document alarming bird population declines over the past 30 years, I find myself thinking that this research answers the ‘So What’ questions regarding Citizen Science. Many times, Citizen Science may feel like a fun field trip--a day in the woods listening and looking; observing birds, butterflies, or other wildlife; noticing and documenting plants; pulling invasives; counting invertebrates in a stream. The Cornell study, Link to Science Magazine article, demonstrates that the data we collect combines with data across the country and world to provide information that cannot be generated in any other way. The NEXTAR radar provided important facts about the decline in overall avian biomass over the past 30 years. Citizen Science data over time, however, documented specific species losses, and gains. The study demonstrates that policies protecting species and ecosystems have made a difference in targeted populations of birds. The patterns lead to understanding the effects of some factors we cannot control, but also of some that we can influence.
As ORMN members, we have some opportunities coming up:
Cornell Feederwatch: begins November 9
Sign up to sit at home with the beverage of your choice and document the birds that you see at your feeder. The requirement is to spend 2 consecutive days watching for whatever amount of time you can or desire, not necessarily contiguous. You can watch 2 days weekly or less often, whatever fits your time. Report your data on paper or online to Cornell.
Sign up at : https://feederwatch.org/
Christmas Bird Watch: December 14.
Join a team of ORMN members to spend a day looking and listening for birds at your assigned site. Good company (both birds and people!).
Contact Victoria Fortuna if you are interested in joining a team. (Audubon Project)
Audubon is launching a new Citizen Science project in 2020 to understand effects of climate changes by surveying populations of specific bird species: bluebird, nuthatch, painted bunting, goldfinch, and towhee. When you sign up, you identify an observation site and follow procedures to survey your selected species on one day between January 15- February 15, and one day between May 15 and June 15.
For more information: https://www.audubon.org/features/esri-climate-watch
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