COVID-19 UPDATE: The spring Climate Watch Survey period that was to take place May 15-June 15 has been cancelled.
Audubon's Climate Watch is a community science program that monitors how North American birds are responding to climate change by enlisting volunteers to follow specific protocol when collecting data on target species relevant to their region. The program was born shortly after Audubon released our first climate report in 2014 when thousands of people began asking what they could do in their communities to help conserve birds. Audubon's 2019 climate change report, ‘Survival By Degrees,’ predicts up to two-thirds of North American birds being vulnerable to extinction due to climate change. In light of this report, the need to track how birds are actively responding to climate change has become essential to their conservation. The good news is that one of Audubon’s greatest strengths is our network of volunteers who have been at the forefront of informing the science of bird conservation and climate change since the first Christmas Bird Count over 100 years ago – Climate Watch continues this tradition of large-scale community science.
Our climate models project how each of the 389 vulnerable species’ range of habitat is going to shift, but we don’t know how long it will take for birds to move to more suitable ranges or if they will move at all. That’s where you come in! Climate watch volunteers survey twice a year, once in the winter and again in the springtime. Participants can choose to survey at any point during this timeframe, but you must finish your survey in one day. Our next survey will take place January 15-February 15, 2021.
Participants are encouraged to get into contact with their regional or local Climate Watch coordinators to get started. That being said, there are resources online if you would like to work independently.
How do I get involved?
Step One: Email the local coordinator for Climate Watch, firstname.lastname@example.org. Your coordinator will let you know what species is best to survey based on where you are located. For most of Vermont, we will focus on the White-breasted Nuthatch. You can learn more about the White-breasted Nuthatch and its preferred habitat using Audubon's online field guide.
Step Two: Pick out a 10x10km square from the Climate Watch map using these instructions. Your Climate Square is the area you choose to survey in. This could be a nature center, park or any other area that has suitable habitat for your target species. For the White-breasted Nuthatch you will want to pick an area with primarily mature mixed or hardwood forests.
Step Three: Using the Climate Watch Planner tool, choose 12 points within your climate square where you will survey and that represent the best accessible habitat for your target species. These points need to be at least 200m apart to avoid double counting.
Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to get outside and survey! Surveying for one square takes an average of 3-4 hours and each square must be completed within one day. At each of your 12 points you will conduct a 5-minute survey in which you count as many target species as you see. You will pay special attention to your target species, but please note other species as well! It is always helpful to have more information than less.
What data do I need to record?
- Start time, duration, number of observers, latitude and longitude
- Total number of each species (target species and other bird species you are able to identify) that you see or hear within 100 meters of your location, line of sight permitting
- The presence of nest boxes or feeders within the survey area (recorded in comments box if using eBird)
- Your target species must be recorded on each checklist. (If using eBird, this must be placed in the comments box and please make sure that your comments are set as “public” so that we can access them
- If using eBird be sure to answer “yes” to the question “Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify?” to indicate you are submitting a complete checklist.
How do I submit my data to Audubon?
There are four ways to submit your data to Audubon, but due to limited capacity to handle manual data processing we encourage you to submit using one of the first two methods below:
- The Audubon app – this is the most user friendly because data can be submitted directly through the app!
- Email a scanned copy of your paper checklists to email@example.com