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Watch Baby Birds for the Joy and the Science of It
Witness the fascinating family lives of birds with NestWatch
It is now officially spring. With it you may see bird courting rituals, lots of singing, nest construction, and the beginnings of fragile new life. Spring also brings another season of the NestWatch citizen-science project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, building its ever more valuable database on nesting birds. NestWatch participants say watching birds raise their young is incredibly rewarding.

“It’s like being an explorer, it’s just so fascinating,” said NestWatcher Kimberlie Sasan. “Once you start checking the nests and those wobbly little faces gaze back at you–they’re my babies. I look forward to it every spring because I’m so excited to get out there and see them.”

Joining NestWatch is free, and it only takes about 15 minutes to learn how to participate, keeping the safety of the birds in mind. Simply find a bird’s nest and begin recording details about the number of eggs, nestlings, and fledglings, along with key dates such as when the eggs hatch and when young leave the nest. It is not necessary to be an expert birdwatcher to join in as there are many opportunities to learn as you go.

“NestWatch is a long-term database about avian reproductive success going back to the 1960s,” said Robyn Bailey, NestWatch project leader at the Cornell Lab. “This longevity enables scientists to look across decades and large geographic areas for concerning trends—and also search out ways to reverse bird declines. The data gathered from everyday people from all corners of the country help form a bigger picture than any one team of scientists could ever manage.”

All the long-term data help form a clearer picture of how birds are responding to threats such as climate change, habitat destruction, and invasive species.

Studies have also shown that humans benefit by getting outdoors in nature. By participating in NestWatch, participants do good for themselves and for the birds. To learn more, visit Register on the website or through the free NestWatch app, available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.