It's A Spring Thing

Photo Credit: Steve Hillebrand, via Wikimedia Commons

Tired of winter? Looking forward to some time in the great outdoors? Here are five projects to get you out in the fresh air.

Rusty Blackbird Blitz: Researchers want to know more about the migratory habits of this bird. For example, are there spots where they congregate during migration? Are these spots sheltered, or are they being overrun by human habitation? The Blitz starts on March 1; contact your state coordinator to find out more.

International Shorebird Survey: Starting on March 15, researchers are looking to collect data on shorebirds in the Northeast, Southeast, and in the Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River Valley. Since 1974, volunteers have conducted nearly 80,000 census counts at 1200 locations in 47 U.S. states. For more information, contact Brad Winn at bwinn@manomet.org.

North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project: Chimney Swifts, as their name indicates, tend to nest and roost in chimneys. Unfortunately, when they do this, their young tend to make a lot of noise, and many homeowners have the birds forcibly removed. Obviously, this reduces the swift populations, which is unfortunate, as these migratory birds eat a third of their body weight in pests (like mosquitoes, termites, and biting flies) every single day. Researchers want you to find a way to allow swifts in your chimney (either by closing the damper or adding more insulation to reduce the noise) or building a substitute nesting tower. For plans and more information, check out ChimneySwifts.org.

Nestwatch: This project wants you to watch any nest to help researcher determine: when nesting occurs, the number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. To participate, get certified at Nestwatch, find a nest to observe, and report your data online.

Great Lakes Hummernet: When do hummingbirds first appear at your feeder? How many do you usually see? When do they leave? Do any stick around? Report your data to the Great Lakes Hummernet project. Ontario, Canada residents can also report to the Ontario Hummingbird Project.

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Chandra Clarke is a Webby Honoree-winning blogger, a successful entrepreneur, and an author. Her book Be the Change: Saving the World with Citizen Science is available at Amazon. You can connect with her on Twitter @chandraclarke.