Join NestWatch, Help the Planet

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on March 16, 2011

It is hard to see all the devastation and horror in Japan and not feel helpless.  While we should give to the appropriate aid agencies, there are also things we can do at home to improve the world around us, increase our knowledge of Global Climate Change, and bond with nature.  Here is a short guest post, distributed to all NestWatch volunteers, that explains one way to do that.

Build a Bond with Birds
By Jason Martin, NestWatch

Eastern Bluebird nest. Photo by J. Brindo

Whether in a shrub, a tree, or a nest box, bird nests are all around us. By monitoring a nearby nest you can help scientists study the biology of North America’s birds and how it might be changing over time. Every spring and summer, volunteers from across the country visit nests and report their findings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch program. As a NestWatcher, you keep tabs on bird family life, following the progression from incubated eggs, to fuzzy chicks, to gawky youngsters ready to take their first fluttering flight. All the information you gather is submitted online to the NestWatch database.

“NestWatch helps people of all ages and backgrounds connect with nature,” says project leader Jason Martin. “The information that our dedicated citizen scientists collect allows us to understand the impact that various threats, such as environmental change and habitat destruction, have on breeding birds. Armed with this knowledge, we can take the necessary steps to help birds survive in this changing world.”

Eastern Bluebird chick hatching. Photo by Mary Thomson

Instructions and all the materials you need to participate are available on the NestWatch website at You’ll also get directions on how to find and monitor nests without disturbing the birds.  It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s free.

The Cornell Lab’s immensely popular NestCams are back too. Cameras broadcast live video over the web from the nests of Barn Owls, bluebirds, wrens, Wood Ducks, and many other species. Our newest camera is focused on a Great Horned Owl family in Houston, Minnesota. Check it out at

And please join us for NestWatch this season—you’ll build a bond with birds and with nature in your own backyard.

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