The White-breasted Nuthatch is one of Climate Watch's target species that we will survey in Vermont. Photo: Gary Churchill / Audubon Photography Awards
The White-breasted Nuthatch is one of Climate Watch's target species that we will survey in Vermont. Photo: Gary Churchill / Audubon Photography Awards


Climate Watch: Birding to Conserve

Our winter Climate Watch Survey is underway: January 15 – February 15, 2020

Want to use your birding skills to advance our understanding of climate change’s impact on birds? Then Audubon’s Climate Watch is for you! Climate Watch is a community science program that monitors how North American birds are responding to climate change by enlisting volunteers to collect data on target species relevant to their region.

The Climate Watch program was born shortly after Audubon released our first climate report in 2014 and 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 bird conservation and climate change science 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’ habitat ranges are 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 is different from other community science initiatives. Its specific scientific protocol makes it slightly more challenging and involved.

  • First, participants study their target species to make sure they are able to identify not only the bird, but also their preferred habitat.

  • Next, participants use an online map to choose a 10 x 10km 'Climate Square' in an area that represents ideal habitat for their target species.

  • Finally, they select 12 points within their 'Climate Square' to survey - each point must beat least 200 meters away from one another.

  • Then you're ready to survey and collect data! 

Here in Vermont, our target species is the White-breasted Nuthatch. Climate Watch volunteers conduct surveys twice a year, one in the winter and the second in the late spring. Our winter survey is coming up: January 15 – February 15, 2020. Participants can choose to survey at any point during this timeframe, but must complete their survey in one day. 

To learn more about the program and how to get involved, you can visit our Climate Watch page or email Sarah Hooghuis,  our Americorps Member coordinating community science.  Email: or call the Audubon Vermont Office at 802-434-3068.

Look out for our Spring Calendar! We will be hosting an event in April to introduce folks to Climate Watch before the spring surveying period. This will be a great chance for those wanting to participate to become better acaquinted with the technology and data collection. Sign up for event updates here. 

Climate Watch from on Vimeo.

Overview of Climate Watch

Resources for participants:

recorded webinar about the science of Climate Watch and how to participate (45 minutes)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Climate Watch Survey Manual

Climate Watch Results 2016-2018

How you can help, right now