About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Project NestWatch

Dear Wild Birds Unlimited mid-Michigan,

My name is Laura Burkholder and I’m the new leader of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch project. As you may know, collecting information about nesting birds is what NestWatch is all about.
The new season is just getting underway--and we need friends like you to help gather information from across the continent. NestWatch welcomes data for all North American birds. Participants submit data about which kinds of birds are nesting, the number of eggs laid, dates eggs were laid, and the numbers of chicks hatched and fledged. Collecting this information across the continent over long periods of time is one of the best ways we have to detect widespread changes in breeding bird biology.

I believe it’s become even more important in light of the new State of the Birds 2010 Climate Change Report just released by the Department of the Interior earlier this month. Nesting birds are vulnerable to climate change. Data show some species, like the Tree Swallow, are laying their eggs more than a week earlier than they did just a few decades ago. That could spell big trouble if hatch dates get out of sync with the availability of food.

Based on NestWatch data from 1997 to 2009, the chart shown here for the Eastern Bluebird suggests that the first eggs are being laid sooner. More long-term data are needed to clarify the impacts of environmental change and human land use on breeding birds.

In addition to its scientific value, NestWatch is fun, free, and open to all. Participation is a great way for you to connect with nature. Kindergarten students in one New York classroom collected information about bluebirds nesting on school grounds. “This was so exciting for the children and for me too,” their teacher Ruth Taylor wrote to us. “They named the male Skyboy and the female Bluebell. First we had two eggs and then four eggs in the nest. What a marvelous experience for all of us to enjoy and learn!"

The always-popular NestCams are also back in action. You can get a live peek into nests and nest boxes across the country. Live cameras for Barn Owls, Barred Owls, and Wood Ducks are online right now with Eastern Bluebirds and other species soon to follow at http://www.nestcams.org/.

Everything you need to take part in NestWatch is available online at http://www.nestwatch.org/, including directions on how you find nests, how to build and put up nest boxes, and how you monitor nests without disturbing the birds.

Use this button on websites, blogs, and in social media to link to NestWatch at http://www.nestwatch.org/. I do hope you’ll be a part of NestWatch this year and help us monitor the birds we love in this ever-changing world!

Laura Burkholder, project leader NestWatch
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.

Visit the Cornell Lab’s web site at http://www.birds.cornell.edu.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca NY 14850

Call us toll-free at (800) 843-BIRD (2473)

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