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You are here: Home - Education - Citizen Science

Citizen Science for Birders: A robin looking through a microscope.

Index

Albatross Project: Bird Banding Laboratory
American Crow Roosts
American Robin Migration
Bird Bands
Bird Cast
Breeding Bird Atlas
Breeding Bird Survey
Checklist Compilation
Color-banded Shorebirds
Color-marked Ducks
Color-marked Hummingbirds
Color-marked Red-tailed Hawks
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology Citizen Science Programs
Geese Peace
Great Backyard Bird Count
Hawk Watches
Loggerhead Shrike Recovery
Mute Swan Project
Neighborhood Nestwatch
Nest Records
On-going Site Monitoring
Seasonal Bird Counts
Sightings Compilation and Submission
Swamp Sparrow Records
Swift Night Out
Trumpeter Swans




Albatross Project: Bird Banding Laboratory

As many of you know, the Bird Banding Laboratory is re-engineering their systems and programs. These are exciting times for them and for banders and researchers in North America. One of the most exciting projects is the development of guidelines and software that will enable banders to submit recaptures to BBL. This is especially exciting for nongame research as it will enable researchers to obtain survival rates, recruitment rates, and other important demographic parameters for nongame species!

BBL successfully competed for a $30,000 grant and they have hired a post doctoral biologist, Paul Doherty, who is working on the design and implementation of the BBL recapture/resighting database. They need data sets to test the programs. One data set that holds exciting possibilities is the ALBATROSS data from Chan Robbins' Pacific Project work with Laysan and Black-footed Albatross.

Albatross are among the longest-lived birds, routinely living more than 40 years. In the 1950s and 1960s Chan went to Midway Island to band albatross. During that time period, and since then, many banded albatross have been recaptured. With these data the BBL can estimate survivorship.

With the advent of long-line fishing techniques, which may impact albatross survivorship, this data set has increased in importance. Unfortunately much of this data exists only on paper and must be keyed into a computer data set before the data can be used for analysis. There are tens of thousands of records and this amount is beyond what can be handled by one person in a timely fashion.

BBL IS LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS TO HELP WITH THIS EFFORT. THIS IS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO HELP CHAN ROBBINS! Paul has developed a program to facilitate data entry. Volunteers can work in BBL, or after getting acquainted with the program, could take it home and enter data at home. BBL is open from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm Monday through Friday and you would be welcome during this time. It would be preferable for you to work in at least 2-hour blocks on a consistent schedule; however, they are flexible.

You would be contributing to the conservation of these unique birds, will have a better understanding of what the BBL does, and will be able to interact with wildlife biologists on staff.

If interested, please contact:

Paul Doherty
Bird Banding Laboratory
USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
12100 Beech Forest Road
Laurel, MD 20708-4037

Ph. 301-497-5796 (leave a voice mail message if Paul is not in his office)
Fax 301-497-5717
Email Paul_Doherty@usgs.gov

American Robin Migration -- Journey North

Journey North in MN is a non-profit educational project that engages school age children in the study of global migrations. They track American Robin migration and their students report sightings of many migrating animals to our Web site. Your sightings are added to the map to create better patterns for migration studies.

To help accurately identify the 'song on territory' please listen at:

Robin Song

Have you heard any Robin songs on territory? They will appreciate whatever reports you are able to make including date of first song heard, location, and any comments.

You can contact the project rep promptly with the location and date or report directly to Journey North over the web. To report to the project rep send a note to Cindy Schmid at:

Cindy_JourneyNorth@msn.com

To report on Journey North, following these simple directions:

  1. Go to the Journey North Web site: "http://learner.org/jnorth"
  2. Press the"owl button."
  3. Fill Out the "Field Notes" Form -- Provide the information about your sighting as instructed on the form.
  4. Confirm that Your Sighting was Received -- After you submit your data, go back to make sure it was properly received. To do this, click on the owl button again. You'll see instructions in the right-hand column "How to Go to Sightings Database" Follow the steps as instructed.

American Crow Roosts

Mike Cantwell of the Maryland Department of Agriculture is currently working on a West Nile Virus study in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Mike is interested in locating any known crow roosting sites in either Baltimore, Baltimore County, or northern Anne Arundel County, especially if they are near areas where infected dead crows were found this year (central Baltimore, Dundalk, Rosedale, Arbutus, Brooklyn). Mike wants to look for dead crows at these roost sites. If you might have any information that would be benificial to Mike's study or if you have found a dead or dying crow, please contact Mike either by phone or e-mail at:

Office: (301) 927-8357
Office (TOLL FREE): 1 (877) 425-6485
E-mail: skeetermd@erols.com

Bird Bands

The preferred method of reporting bird bands is to call toll-free to 1-800-327-BAND (2263) from anywhere in Canada, the United States and most parts of the Caribbean. The operators will need to know the band number, how, when and where the bird or band was found. Please do not use this number to call us about other matters. To report online, go to the PWRC banding page.

Bird Cast

BirdCast is an ornithology project that weaves science and education for the sake of migratory birds and the environment in general. The project team this fall will consist of 4 partners - National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Clemson's Radar Ornithology Lab and all birdwatchers in the region. The entire project is made possible by the support of the EPA's Office of Research and Development and Office of Pesticide Programs. Piloted in the spring of 2000 in the mid-Atlantic region, it has now been expanded throughout New Jersey and New York.

BirdCast will provide daily unfiltered NEXRAD (Next Generation Radar) snapshots of migrating birds across the area. These images will be accompanied by interpretation and migration predictions by Dr. Sidney Gauthreaux and his Clemson radar ornithology team. Here's where you can make a difference. BirdCast needs your help in ground-truthing these radar images. We would like to know what you are seeing as you watch birds in your favorite birding spot throughout the fall. All you have to do is submit some important site and time information to the website and then tell us how many birds of which species you have observed. It's that simple.

Your observations will feed directly into BirdSource, an interactive database developed and maintained by National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Your data and similar sightings will be available at the site in real-time. Results will include species and numbers that have been observed throughout the area. See what's headed your way from the north. In addition, you will be able to see the results of night-time bioacoustical monitoring that will be going on across the region. Find out what flew over while you slept.

If you bird the same area from Virginia thru New York on a frequent, regular basis and would like to get involved in this research and education project on a regular basis, please contact Sally Conyne at (215)297-9040 or sconyne@audubon.org. Otherwise, report what you see whenever convenient.

Breeding Bird Atlas

The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Maryland and the District of Columbia is a publication of the Maryland Ornithological Society and the result of tens of thousands of hours of work in the field, in libraries, in file rooms, at computer terminals, and at kitchen tables. The culmination of five years (1983-1987) of intensive field work by professional wildlife biologists and 800 volunteers, it presents data on 199 species of birds that breed in Maryland and the District of Columbia. This project is now completed, but discussions planning the groundwork for the Second Maryland Atlas of Breeding Birds are already underway and data collection work may begin as soon as 2003. Watch this space for more information as it becomes available. For more information on Maryland's first breeding bird atlas go to the MOS Web Site atlas page.

Breeding Bird Survey

The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a large-scale avian survey program initiated in 1966 by Chandler Robbins and his colleagues at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) in Laurel, MD, to monitor the status and trends of breeding bird populations across North America. The BBS is a roadside survey program, with more than 4100 permanent active routes of which approximately 3000 are surveyed annually in early summer. Each route is 24.5 miles (39.4 km) long, with 3-minute point counts conducted at 0.5 mile (0.8 km) intervals for a total of 50 point count stops. All birds heard or seen within a 0.25 mile (0.4 km) radius of each stop are recorded. These surveys begin 30 minutes before sunrise and normally require 4-5 hours for completion. Sky condition, wind speed, and temperature are also recorded at the beginning and end of each survey. Although Maryland has the greatest density of BBS routes of any state in the Nation, only 1-3 of these routes become vacant in any given year. To find out if any routes are currently available in Maryland, contact the Maryland State BBS Coordinator, Keith Pardiek, at PWRC, 301-497-5843. For more information, including details on skill levels required, see the BBS web site

Checklist Compilation

While many state or local parks would like to have an exhaustive checklist of the birds occurring in their environs, many of them lack the resources to compile such a list. Contact the naturalist at the park nearest you to establish whether or not a checklist already exists and, if not, how you or your birding group can work with the park naturalist to compile such a list. While direct observation is the best way to verify the presence of a particular species in a particular habitat, many publications are available at a local, county, state, or regional level which may give you a starting point for your checklist project.

Color Banded Shorebirds

Please be on the lookout for color-banded birds during your birding trips this summer and fall (and in the years ahead!). Please note the color flag/ring combinations on the birds. And if possible, please try to estimate the approximate flock size where the banded bird(s) were seen. Please submit your sightings on-line at the Western Atlantic Shorebird Association page:.

Color-marked Ducks

Susan Heath been color marking Ring-necked Ducks, Black Ducks, and Bufflehead on the Virginia Piedmont this winter as part of her thesis research. She received notification from the BBL that one of her marked Ring-necked Ducks was seen on January 15 near Crownsville, MD and has asked if there have been any other sightings in Maryland. The ducks are dyed with red dye which makes them appear pink. It is obvious on male Ring-necked Ducks and both sexes of Bufflehead, a little less obvious on female Ring-necks and Black Ducks. The dye wears off in a few months or is lost when the ducks molt ,so they don't stay pink forever. If you have seen any of these ducks, please notify Susan Heath, sheath@erols.com.

Color-marked Hummingbirds

As part of Operation RubyThroat, Bill Hilton Jr. has been banding hummingbirds since 1984 at Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History near York, South Carolina (southwest of Charlotte, North Carolina). Although the Piedmont seems NOT to be a hummingbird migrational pathway or staging area, through 1999 Hilton still managed to capture and band 2,120 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (RTHU), and retrapped many of them in subsequent years after banding.

To minimize recapture of banded hummingbirds in his pull-string traps, Hilton is authorized by the federal Bird Banding Lab to mark each bird from York with non-toxic GREEN dye on the upper breast and throat. (In fact, he uses a so-called permanent felt-tip marker, but the dye wears or washes off within a month or so.) Hilton also bands RTHUs at other locations, using BLUE or BROWN dye. Because we know little about actual overland migrational pathways for hummingbirds, observers are asked to report any sightings they may have of color-marked hummingbirds during spring migration.

If you see a color-marked hummer, do not attempt to trap it (it's against federal law to do so unless you have a special permit), but please contact Operation RubyThroat and Bill Hilton Jr. via e-mail hilton@rubythroat.org or by phone at (803) 684-5852. If you find a dead banded bird, read the band number and contact both Operation RubyThroat and the federal Bird Banding Lab at 1-800-327-BAND or via their reporting website page (see above). Additional information about hummingbirds is available at the Operation RubyThroat website and at the website for Hilton Pond Center.

Color-marked Red-tailed Hawks

Wanted! Information on sightings of color-marked Red-tailed Hawks. Please send information on any sighting of Red-tailed Hawks with color markings on the outermost secondary feathers 1-4. Birds will be marked in eastern Pennsylvania but could appear anywhere throughout their range, possibly though the summer of 2001. Possible colors include pink, yellow, and green. Please provide the following information about any sighting.

Your name, address, phone number and/or email address
Date (including year)
Time of Day
Location of sighting (state, county, locality)
Age of bird (Adult/Immature)
Dye color
Behavior of bird when sighted (migrating south or north, hunting, perching, nesting, etc.)

Report all sightings by phone, fax, email, or letter to:
Wildlife Information Center
P.O. Box 198
Slatington, PA 18080
phone/fax 610-760-8889
wildlife@fast.net

Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology Citizen Science Programs

The Lab is a membership institute whose mission is to interpret and conserve the earth's biodiversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. For a fuller understanding of the work of Cornell Labs, visit their web page. Participating in Cornell's citizen-science projects can be as easy as glancing at your backyard bird feeder or as complex as getting out in the field to gather data about the relationship between habitat characteristics and forest bird nesting success. There's a citizen-science project for every skill level and time commitment. Projects in the Cornell Citizen Science Program are constantly changing, so it's best to check out their website to see what is currently on offer. Here are a few of their most current programs:

Project FeederWatch -- This project is for everyone with a bird feeder. FeederWatchers count the birds that visit their feeders from November through March. They also learn more about birds and bird behavior and share their observations with Lab researchers.

Nest Box Network -- Is there a nest box (bird house) on your property? Do you know what's nesting in it? The Cornell Nest Box Network will help you learn to peek inside and collect important information that will help ensure the future of bluebirds and other species that use nest boxes.

Birds in Forested Landscapes -- Cornell needs experienced birders and professional biologists to get out into the field. Help collect data that will be used to determine the effects of fragmentation on North American forest birds.

Cerulean Warbler Atlas Project -- This is an opportunity for volunteers with birding experience to gather data on the habitat requirements, breeding biology, and population distribution of Cerulean Warblers.

Classroom BirdWatch -- Students and their teachers love Classroom BirdWatch! This middle-school, technology-based interdisciplinary curriculum engages students by making them active participants in a real, ongoing scientific study.

House Finch Disease Survey -- Have you noticed House Finches with swollen eyes at your bird feeder? This survey of conjunctivitis is an unprecedented opportunity for citizen scientists to team with researchers to track the spread of an infectious disease in a wildlife population.

Project PigeonWatch -- Who cares about pigeons? Lab scientists do, that's who, and we hope you do, too! PigeonWatchers learn to distinguish between color phases of pigeons, bait them in for close observation, and record the composition and behaviors of these common but fascinating birds.

Geese Peace

Montgomery County has joined with the Humane Society of the United States, an organization called "Geese Peace" and others to initiate an egg oiling program in the county to help control the growing population of resident Canada Geese in the area. Oiling eggs is a humane method of population control and the long term goal is to stabilize and eventually reduce resident goose populations in the County. This process requires Federal and State permits which are being obtained by the County.

The County is looking for volunteers who would like to help with this program. Volunteers will be trained in oiling techniques and assigned locations in which to work. Volunteers will be responsible for locating nests and treating Canada Goose eggs as well as keeping accurate records for reports to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Most activity will take place on public and possibly commercial lands.

There will be a training workshop on Tuesday evening March 20 in Boyds, Maryland (near Black Hill Regional Park). If anyone is interested please contact Robb Gibb directly via email and he will send you more detailed information. If you are interested in the program but cannot make the training please contact Robb also in the event a second training session can be arranged.

Rob Gibbs, Wildlife Ecologist
Montgomery County Parks
robgibbs@starpower.net

Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count needs everyone, everywhere to count for the birds November 27 Ithaca, NY - It is well known that many bird species are showing population declines due to habitat loss or other human impacts. Now, people of all ages and backgrounds can help monitor bird populations-including several species that are declining in numbers-by participating in the 4th annual Great Backyard Bird Count February 16-19, 2001.

A project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with funding provided in part by Wild Birds Unlimited and Ford Motor Company, the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) combines high-tech web tools with "citizen-science" observations of birds. The GBBC asks families, individuals, classrooms, and community groups to count the numbers and kinds of birds that visit their feeders, local parks, schoolyards, and other areas during any or all of the four count days. Participants enter their observations at BirdSource, a user-friendly, state-of-the-art web site developed by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Begun in 1998, the GBBC has engaged more than 100,000 people of all ages and skill levels in the effort to keep common birds common. "We're asking everyone, everywhere in North America to take a few minutes to tell us what birds they see on any or all of the count days," says John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "By tracking changes in bird distribution and abundance over time, such a vast database can serve as the SOS signal for species that may be in trouble."

This is especially important for species that are already showing population declines. GBBC 2001 will put the spotlight on quail, a family of birds familiar to many outdoor enthusiasts and a frequent backyard visitor in much of the U.S. and parts of Canada. "Although most people recognize quail when they see them, few people are aware that some species, including Northern Bobwhite in the East and Scaled Quail in the Southwest, are experiencing severe population declines," says Frank Gill, National Audubon's senior vice president for science. "Because quail are relatively easy to identify, even the casual observer can play an important role in helping them by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count."

Quail are flagship representatives of brushland/shrub habitat. Loss of this habitat and the results of some land management practices are the primary reasons for declines in quail numbers. In suburban areas, predation of these ground-dwelling birds by cats is also a serious concern. Visitors to the GBBC web site can learn more about all six species of North American quail.

The Cornell Lab and Audubon are also asking participants to pay special attention to several species of woodpeckers, including the Red-headed Woodpecker and the Northern Flicker, which are showing signs of serious population decreases. The web site will include several features relating to these species in need of special attention.

Also new this year will be the GBBC's debut in several Latin American locations, allowing the benefits of the count to reach into a new region and affording a fascinating glimpse of tropical backyards and the birds found in them. This experiment is a step toward one of BirdSource's ultimate goals: a hemisphere-wide monitoring of bird populations and the educational opportunities such projects present.

Because the GBBC charts findings in real time, scientists have already noticed some interesting connections between weather patterns and bird movements. For example, for the last few years, American Robins appeared farther north than usual, in areas where snow cover was scant or nonexistent. Such a correlation may be caused by global warming or other broad-scale weather changes. This year's GBBC will again collect information about snow depth.

The GBBC has also been instrumental in tracking movements of winter finches which typically remain year-round in Canada and the northernmost areas of the contiguous United States but that move farther south some winters during irruptions. The count showed "southerly" concentrations of Common Redpolls in the Northeast and across the Great Lakes and northern Rockies. "It's thought that some of these species, including Common Redpolls, irrupt biennially, as a result of a lack of food seeds on what is typically their year-round ranges," says Cornell Lab director Fitzpatrick. "But much of this phenomenon remains a mystery that participants in the Great Backyard Bird Count can help us solve."

To take part in this year's Great Backyard Bird Count, just count the highest number of each bird species seen at one time (to ensure the birds are not counted more than once) and keep track of the amount of time spent counting. Then log on to the BirdSource web site at www.birdsource.org and click on the appropriate state or province for a checklist of the most frequently reported birds in that region.

Results are updated hourly in the form of animated maps and colorful graphs for all to view, thanks to the online nature of the count. Participants will be able to see almost immediately how their observations fit into the continentwide perspective. Findings from previous years are also available at the site.

In addition to results, the GBBC web site includes other interesting and useful information to make participation easy and enjoyable. The site has a vocabulary section, bird-watching and bird-feeding tips, bird vocalizations, and more, including information about House Finch eye disease. Educators will find the bibliography and geography sections especially handy and will be encouraged to conduct the count with groups of kids. Tips for planning and preparing a spring bird garden will also be included.

"The Great Backyard Bird Count is a terrific way for individuals, families, schools and community groups to contribute to a better understanding of birds," says National Audubon's Gill. "In return, they learn more about birds in the process. I can't think of a better way to spend a little time on a late-winter day."

Instructions for participating can be viewed by going to www.birdsource.org and clicking on "Great Backyard Bird Count." There's no fee or registration. People who would like to participate but don't have access to the Internet can try their local library. Many Wild Birds Unlimited locations also accept reports. Libraries, businesses, nature clubs, Scout troops and other community organizations interested in promoting the GBBC or otherwise getting more involved can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at at 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850; or call 800/ 843-2473 (outside the U.S. call 607/254-2473).

Hawk Watches

You don't have to go to Hawk Mountain or to Cape May to watch the fall hawk migration. Indeed, many of these sites in Maryland could use you as a volunteer hawk watcher to help fill out a hawk-watching schedule. With the exception of the Fort Smallwood hawk watch, all of these watches take place from September 1 through late November. The results are compiled and then sent to the Hawk Migration Association of North America, so you will be part of a significant data gathering effort. Come on out now and begin to learn the techniques of hawk identification.

Fort Smallwood (Spring) -- Fort Smallwood Park is likely the best spot along the entire East Coast for observing migrating spring raptors. Hawk watchers counted 12,512 raptors (an all-time high) of 14 species in spring 1997 including Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Mississippi Kite, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon. The Park is located at the eastern terminus of Fort Smallwood Road in northern Anne Arundel County. From Route 100 east, exit left onto Route 607. Two lights later turn right onto Route 173 (Fort Smallwood Road) and follow the road to its end (about 3 miles). After the toll booth just past the entrance gate, bear left onto the loop road, and where the road comes to a T intersection, turn right and park in the lot to the right of the fort. The favored spot for raptor observation is about midway down the east-facing shoreline. To get there from the parking lot, walk south past the pavilion and through the gate. Proceed about 200 yards, stopping where the view broadens. (A dilapidated shack marks the spot at present.) The Park is officially open from about mid-April through mid-November and during this time an entry fee is charged and restroom facilities are available. At other times the park may be closed with no entry or with limited entry, and with no facilities. Of late, the gates inside the park at either end of the east shoreline have been locked. Call the compiler, Sue Ricciardi, at 410-647-9513 if you want further information about this wonderful Spring hawk watch site.

Turkey Point -- A relatively unknown hawk watch, Turkey Point, located in Cecil County, is near North East, MD, in the Elk Neck State Park. Take I-95 to Exit 100. Go South on Route 272 to the end of the road. Walk approximately 0.9 mile to the site, marked by an interpretive sign placed by the Cecil County Bird Club. The hawk watch will be in operation most days from September 1 through Thanksgiving and the counters welcome visitors. In fall 1996, over 5,000 raptors were counted. Call Leslie Fisher for additional information at 410-658-2427 or send her e-mail at gonbrdn@dol.net.

Washington Monument State Park -- A regular but fairly informal watch atop the monument which straddles South Mountain in Boonesboro. One or more counters is present daily, at least through the morning hours; volunteers are most needed in the afternoons. Located off Alt. Route 40, near Boonsboro, MD. Take I-70 to Frederick and go West on Alt. 40 to Monument Road. Take Monument Road to the park entrance. Follow the right fork about 1/2 mile into the park to the Monument Trail. The hawk watch is located at the top of the tower, about a 1/4 mile walk uphill. For further information about the hawk watch call Lee Murray at 301-739-3463; to determine if the park is open, call park headquarters at 301-701-392-4491. The view from the stone tower is breathtaking. As its name implies, the tower is a monument to our first President. The view alone is worth the visit, but since the Cumberland Valley is a migratory bird flyway, the park offers excellent all around birdwatching opportunities. The Appalachian Trail winds through the park and passes the base of the monument.

Town Hill -- This relatively new site, located in Allegany County, features a long, roofed shelter with a great view of the valley to the east. Take I-68 west through Hancock past Sidling Hill. Three miles across the Washington-Allegany county line, take Scenic US 40 to the top of Town Hill. The Town Hill Inn will be on your right, the hawk watch on your left.

Table Rock -- This Garrett County site is located along Table Rock Road at the crest of Backbone Mountain and just off of US route 50 approximately two miles east of Red House Md. Red House is located at the intersection of US route 50 and route 219 app. 10 miles southwest of Oakland, Md. If you're coming from Red House and heading east on route 50, Table Rock road turns off to the right in a right-hand turn almost directly at the crest of the mountain. There is a small clearing on the right hand side of the road almost as soon as you turn onto Table Rock Road. With care you can pull your vehicle into the clearing. Or you can just park your car along the side of the road by the clearing. Claudia Wilds mentions this general area in her book, Finding Birds in the National Capital Area, but may not have mentioned the hawk watching aspect. She touts an area farther out Table Rock road as being good for Mourning Warblers and other species. Olin Pettingill also mentions this area in his older Birding Finding East. The site can be very productive. The drawbacks are no facilities and a lot of local traffic. There is a small restaurant along route 219 heading into Oakland that offers good home-cooked style food and restrooms. It's about a ten minute drive from Table Rock. The advantages are that you can drive right to the spot and actually hawk watch from your car if you wish. In addition to hawk watching, this part of Garrett County can also be very productive for songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl. Any one wanting information on the site can phone Gary Felton at 304-454-9251.

For additional information about hawkwatching in Maryland, search the MOS Web Site hawkwatch section.

Loggerhead Shrike Recovery

Over the last 3 seasons, Bird Studies Canada has safely banded 464 Loggerhead Shrikes. They are out there somewhere and we need your help to find them. As you can imagine, getting enough data to understand the problems of a small, endangered population is tough. It is important to find as many birds as possible. We need to understand the causes of the ongoing decline before it is too late. This is important not just for shrikes, but also for other species that may be suffering from the same problems that are causing the shrike's decline. Over the next 5 years, the recovery team will focus its efforts on 4 areas of concern. These possible factors in the decline are habitat loss, collisions with cars (especially during migration), pesticides (especially on the wintering grounds) and climate change. It is vital that we collect as much data as possible to provide information on where Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes winter, the age structure of the population, dispersal patterns and survival.

You can help. At the time of any shrike sightings seen anywhere in North America, birders are asked to check legs for color bands and record the presence/absence of the bands and color combinations. Specify the vertical order of the colors on the left and right legs separately. All information collected will be kept confidential. Please report all sightings right away to the to Bird Studies Canada at 1-888-448-BIRD (2473).

If you have any questions or want more information, please give me a collect call at 613-328-0810, e-mail me, Chris Grooms, at cgrooms@kingston.net or check out the color banding web site at http://members.kingston.net/cgrooms.

Mute Swan Project

MD DNR is seeking permission from the USFWS for a Mute Swan egg addling project this spring (starting in March or April). While waiting for permission from the USFWS, they're compiling a list of potential volunteers to help with this project. If interested, you are urged to contact Donald Webster at (410) 827-8612. He can also be reached at: dwebster@dnr.state.md.us.

Nest Records

The Nest Records Committee is currently tasked with computer archiving the 20,000 or so nest records, developing and promoting the safe nest observation of nests, and developing means to query this information to help determine what aspects of reproductive success are most important to the species that breed in Maryland. We can easily research requests and appreciate any records you could send us. Contact the chair, Mark Johnson at Mark.Johnson@APG.amedd.army.mil.

Neighborhood Nestwatch

Have you ever wondered if the robin nesting in your front yard was there last year or if the phoebe nesting under your eave successfully raised young? Well, Dr. Peter P. Marra of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, MD is launching a project that guides you and your family through your own scientific research project that will answer those very important questions. The Smithsonian Neighborhood Nestwatch will provide you with an incredible scientific learning opportunity while at the same time gather important scientific data on the biology of migratory birds in urban/suburban landscapes. Neighborhood Nestwatch enables you the opportunity to monitor the reproductive success and survival of a nesting pair of migratory birds (such as Carolina wrens, robins, catbirds or phoebes) in your neighborhood or even in your own backyard. You (and your family) will select a bird species that is nesting in your neighborhood. A SERC scientist, along with your help, will then catch the pair of birds, measure and band them with a unique color band combination, and then release them. Each observer will receive specialized training that will enable him or her to observe the pair, find their nests and record important scientific data. The following year, you search your neighborhood to determine if your color-banded birds survived the long migration or the wintering period in the tropics. This experience will be like taking a course in field ornithology in your own backyard.

For more information on how to sign up
Call Pete Marra at (301) 261-4190 (ext. 200) or
e-mail: marra@serc.si.edu.

On-going Site Monitoring

Adopt a site, catalog the habitats of the area, then visit the site repeatedly throughout the year, on a regular basis, to gather long-term information on the use birds make of the area in all seasons. A fine example of this type of project is the on-going monitoring of Hart-Miller Island, which has been taking place on a regular basis since the late 1970s and on a weekly basis for the past 3 years. Selecting a site, inventorying the habitat, and deciding on frequency of visitation can all be confusing decisions.

Seasonal Bird Counts

These are what most birders tend to think of when they decide to participate in bird monitoring projects.

Christmas Bird Counts -- Carried out since 1900, the Christmas Bird Counts take place over a 3-weekend span around December 25. Each count is an attempt to tally all the birds within a 15-mile diameter circle on a specific day. Currently there are 25 Christmas Counts which take place either wholly or in part within the State of Maryland. The Maryland Count schedule is published each year in the November/December issue of MD Yellowthroat, the newsletter of the Maryland Ornithological Society and also posted on the MOS website: http://www.mdbirds.org. More help is always needed, so select a count near you and call the compiler to volunteer. The Christmas Bird Counts are sponsored by the National Audubon Society and a fee of $5 per person per count is charged to help offset the cost of printing the annual Christmas Count Report.

Mid-winter Bird Counts -- Going on the theory that Christmas Bird Counts are still picking up many late migrants, these county-wide counts are scheduled for the period between January 15 and February 15.

International Migratory Bird Day (May Count) -- This county-by-county census of migrating birds takes place on the second Saturday of May. Each county has a compiler to help ensure that volunteers don't overlap each other and the results are published each year in MD Birdlife, the quarterly journal of the MOS.

Fall Bird Counts -- This is a relatively new phenomenon, taking place in only a few counties to date. If your county doesn't yet have a Fall Count, usually scheduled for the third Saturday in September, consider organizing one! For more information on this count, the mid-winter count, and May count, contact the MOS Seasonal Count Coordinator, Bob Ringler, at 410-549-6031, or watch the MOS website for late-breaking dates and compilers.

The MOS Web Site has more detailed information on current count schedules.

Sightings Compilation and Submission

If you spend any time at all in the field birding and if you keep records of the birds you see, you should be submitting them to the regional editors of the various seasonal bird reports. Four seasons are identified: Spring, encompassing March through May, Summer (June and July), Fall (August-November), and Winter (December-February). You should assemble your sightings and forward them to the compilers noted below within 2-3 weeks of the close of each season.

MD Birdlife Seasons Reports -- Birds seen anywhere in the State of Maryland should be reported to Dan & Linda Southworth, 9763 Early Spring Way, Columbia, MD 21046, 301-490-5648.

MD/DC Bird Records Committee -- This Committee of the Maryland Ornithological Society has the responsibility of ruling on the acceptability of sightings of rare birds in the District of Columbia and in Maryland and further, maintains the official lists of birds for each of these localities. If you see a rare bird in the field, this is the group to whom you should submit your sighting information. For more info on what species are currently on the MD/DC Records Committee Review List or to just find out more about the workings of the Committee, go to their website.

North American Birds -- Formerly known as Audubon Field Notes, NAB is now published by the American Birding Association. Bird sightings in all but Allegany, Garrett, and Washington Counties should be reported to the Middle Atlantic Coast Regional Editor, Marshall Iliff, 901 Crystal Spring Farm Road, Annapolis, MD 21403, 410-269-1589, miliff@aol.com; or to Jim Stasz, P.O. Box 71, North Beach, MD 20714, jlstasz@aol.com. Birds seen in Maryland's western counties should be reported to the Appalachian Regional Editor, George Hall, P.O. Box 6045, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26504-6045.

Rare Bird Alerts -- Sightings of notable species should be reported on an on-going basis to the Voice of the Naturalist, a taped hotline updated weekly by the Audubon Naturalist Society or posted to MDOsprey, an internet discussion list devoted to birds and birding in Maryland. To report your sightings to the Voice, call 301-652-9188. To subscribe: Send an e-mail message to LISTSERV@HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM. In the body of the message type SUBSCRIBE MDOsprey YOUR NAME.

You may wish to bookmark MD BirdReporter. It's a handle reference to all the phone numbers and e-mail addresses you need to report your sightings.

Swamp Sparrow Records

In an effort to determine the current status of the Coastal Plain Swamp Sparrow, the USGS at Patuxent (Sam Droege) and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (Russ Greenberg) have initiated a large-scale investigation of this bird's distribution, past and present. They plan to visit all historic sites in which this subspecies was seen or suspected of breeding this coming field season. There are reasons to suspect that its populations are imperiled in the Chesapeake Bay and could be declining in the Delaware Bay area.

Sam and Russ are interested in gathering all records of Swamp Sparrows occurring in the Maryland-Delaware-New Jersey vicinity during the period from late May to mid-August. In Maryland, they are particularly interested in Swamp Sparrow records from those counties adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay or its associated estuaries. Currently, it is believed that all Swamp Sparrows breeding or spotted within the region during the dates mentioned above are likely to represent the coastal plain subspecies.

If you would be willing to share these records or are aware of other sources of this information, please contact:

Jon Beadell
monint3@usgs.gov
(301) 497-5559.

Information could come in the form of personal field notes, daily checklists, nesting records, atlas records, research surveys, point counts etc. Little hard data exists for this species so any sighting would be very valuable to them.

Swift Night Out

This first annual Swift Night Out will held this year (2001). John Connors, a Research Associate with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh presented the idea earlier this year to help spread the message of Chimney Swift conservation. During the week of Sepember 3, attempt to locate a Chimney Swift or Vaux's Swift roost in your area. A roost is a location where swifts gather at dusk to spend the night. Then on one night over the weekend of September 8, 9, 10, you observe the roost at dusk and estimate the number of swifts that enter. When you have your number, contact the compilers with your results. They will set up a page on their web site to compile the results as they come in. You may send in your results by email, fax, phone or regular mail - they will continue to update the results through the end of September. Here are the contact numbers:

Email: dwa@concentric.net / Fax or phone: (512) 266-3861
U.S. Mail: Driftwood Wildlife Association 1206 West 38th, Suite 1105, Austin, Texas 78705

When reporting your results please include: number of swifts counted, time, date, location (address, city, state/province) and broad description of the site, e.g. school, warehouse, residence, Chimney Swift Tower, etc. Weather conditions may also be reported.

This first year will be a relatively "low tech" event. However, if response is positive, the compilers will make every effort to move it to the next level in 2002. Project Directors are Paul D. and Georgean Z. Kyle from the North American Chimmney Swift Nest Site Research Project.

Trumpeter Swans in the Chesapeake Bay Area

While traveling around the northern Chesapeake Bay, you might want to keep on the lookout for TRUMPETER SWANS. As part of the reintroduction program being coordinated by Environmental Studies at Airlie, a new group of Trumpeters arrived on Jan. 18th at the Wildfowl Trust of North America's Horsehead Wetland Center (Grasonville, MD). They are now venturing out into the surrounding areas and have been seen at Kent Island, Cabin Creek, and other areas, mingling with both Tundra and Mute Swans.

While traveling around the northern Chesapeake Bay, you might want to keep on the lookout for TRUMPETER SWANS. As part of the reintroduction program being coordinated by Environmental Studies at Airlie, a new group of Trumpeters arrived on Jan. 18th at the Wildfowl Trust of North America's Horsehead Wetland Center (Grasonville, MD). They are now venturing out into the surrounding areas and have been seen at Kent Island, Cabin Creek, and other areas, mingling with both Tundra and Mute Swans.

These Trumpeters followed two ultralight planes down from New York over the past couple of months. Due to poor weather conditions and lots of snow, the migration took over a month longer than had been originally planned.

If you have an observation to report, be sure to take down the date, time, neckband number (a unique code), and the activity of the swan during observation. You can reach the Airlie office toll free at: 888-2MIGRATE (888-264-4728).

Read more about the project, see photos, and learn about proper identification of the Trumpeter Swans through the following links:

What's New with the Trumpeters



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