A little piece of the puzzle – Citizen Science works!

Posted: April 16, 2016 - 11:17 , by Nicole Richards
From the Field | Comments () | Comment

Blog written by Mark Peck

I have been observing and documenting birds ever since I can remember. My father, George Peck, helped start the Ontario Nest Record Scheme, and in 1976 became a Research Associate at the ROM. Birding is in the blood. Citizen science, or volunteer scientific research conducted by amateur or professional scientists, is also in the blood: ornithology kickstarted this movement, as far back as 1900 when the now famous Christmas Bird Count began. My love of birding, and my deep appreciation for participatory research have gone hand-in-hand throughout my career.

On 3 April 2016 I found an American Woodcock nest with 4 eggs (woodcocks are a ground nesting shorebird and one of the earliest nesting species in Ontario). The next two weeks saw plenty of snow and very cold weather. I entered the initial nest information into Bird Studies Canada’s Project Nestwatch, archiving the information and making it available to future researchers.

Four motled brown and white eggs in a nest on the ground

As I walked away from the site, I vowed to return and check in on this situation. My data will help others understand how best to managed this migratory species, and my data will be combined with hundreds of other volunteer citizen science data to help complete the puzzle.

I returned two weeks later, curious to see the fate of the nest. Today, April 16, this is what I saw:

Broken egg shells in a nest on the ground

Today through May 21 is “National Citizen Science month” in the US, championed by the newly formed (c. 2013) Citizen Science Association. The ROM’s Dave Ireland is a member of the group, and is helping share Canadian and Ontario projects with the larger network. For more information on Citizen Science, and how you can get involved, check out the following links:

      Birds Studies Canada has a number of projects

      The Ontario BioBlitz Program is the largest of its kind in the world, and the big 2016 flagship event will be on June 11-12

      iNaturalist, a new Canadian-based mobile app for backyard enthusiasts and seasoned biologists, that the ROM and CWF have produced