What could be more exciting to a child than discovering eggs in a nest, and even noticing those eggs turn into hatchlings!
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch program is an excellent way for your child to tune into the natural world and contribute to a widespread citizen science project. Every year, volunteers from across the country visit nests once or twice each week and monitor their progression from incubating eggs to fuzzy chicks to fully-fledged young. They then submit this data to NestWatch where it is compiled and analyzed.
Whether in a shrub, a tree, or a nest box, bird nests are everywhere. You and your child just have to find one, commit to monitoring it, submit observations—and help scientists study the biology and monitor populations of North America’s birds. Participating in NestWatch is easy and just about anyone can do it, although children should always be accompanied by an adult when observing bird nests. Simply follow the directions on the NestWatch website to become a certified NestWatcher, find a bird nest using these helpful tips, visit the nest every 3-4 days and record what you see, and then report this information on the NW website. You can also download the NestWatch Mobile App for iOS and Android and record what you see at the nest in real-time. Your observations will be added to those of thousands of other NestWatchers in a continually growing database used by researchers to understand and study birds.
NestWatch helps people of all ages and backgrounds connect with nature. The information that NestWatchers collect allows scientists to understand the impact that various threats, such as environmental change and habitat destruction, have on breeding birds. Armed with this knowledge, scientists can take the necessary steps to help birds survive in this changing world.