Spotlight on Community Science

Projects in Community Science, also called Citizen Science, are a fun way to contribute meaningfully in collecting data about our local bird and pollinator populations and beyond. The data that you collect helps scientists study such things as diversity in nature and trends in populations. No formal training is required, but just curiosity, a willingness to go out and explore, and a smartphone or computer where you can record the information collected by you or your group.

The following projects are highlighted in this Autumn newsletter addition since data is being collected in the next few months. These are just a few of the many programs that are included on our Bird Town Pennsylvania website.
Please visit our full listing here.

eBird is a database where you can explore birds, share your sightings and track your lists year-round. The program gathers basic data on bird abundance and distribution. Your sightings contribute to hundreds of conservation decisions, peer-reviewed papers, school projects and helps inform bird research worldwide.

To participate you just need to set up a Cornell Lab Account and then get started. To learn more about eBird, please go here.

This program starts on November 1 and runs through the end of April. To participate, you need to create an account, pay $15 (includes a free bird poster, bird watching calendar and instructions) and then simply watch your backyard feeder for 2 days at a time for as long as you are available. By submitting counts of birds at your feeder, you help monitor what’s happening in your own backyard, and assist scientists in tracking long term trends in bird distribution and abundance. To learn more about Project Feeder Watch, please go here.

This program or count is the longest ongoing community science bird project in the US. It’s held mid to late December and organized by a local compiler. The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, performed annually in the early Northern-hemisphere winter by volunteer birdwatchers. These counts are typically done as a group and you don’t have to have a lot of bird knowledge to join a group. This is a good way to learn about birds while going out with experienced birdwatchers. To find a group in your area, use this site to find CBC circles where you live.  Each circle on the website contains information including the compiler’s contact information and census date.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event held in February (the next will be held on February 17-20, 2023), that creates a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world. These counts are typically done as a group, but can also be done alone in your backyard, and you do not have to have a lot of bird knowledge to join a group.

Watch this video to learn more about the GBBC.

Go here to sign up for the GBBC.

Heidi Shiver, Bird Town Pennsylvania President and PA Audubon Council Secretary