Citizen Scientists in Action in the Hilltowns

Hilltown Families Participates in Smithsonian’s Neighborhood Nestwatch Citizen Scientists Program

Cick to hear their song.

Red-eyed Vireo’s were caught in our mist nests on Sunday morning in West Chesterfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sara Berk)

Every Autumn since 2010, Hilltown Families has participated in a yearly Citizen Scientist project with Biocitizen where families come together to conduct a Rapid Biotic Assessment of the Westfield River. This collection of data involves capturing and cataloging the bugs—benthic invertebrates —that live on the riverbed.  Certain bugs like stonefly-nymphs need lots of oxygen to survive, and when you find a bunch of them, it’s a sign that the river water is fresh and clean and that aquatic habitat is unimpaired.  If you find less, the data collected over a period of years will tell a different story.  In the end, contributions by citizen scientists help scientists in the collection of important data and in the preservation of our local watershed.

New this summer, Hilltown Families committed to another yearly Citizen Scientist project, Smithsonian’s Neighborhood Nestwatch.  Recently expanding from the Washington, D.C. area to the Pioneer Valley, participating youth and families learn about bird populations while helping scientists from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center answer critical questions regarding the survival of backyard bird populations.

Early this past Sunday morning, Sara Berk from Neighborhood Nestwatch, a recent graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, joined us near the banks of the Westfield River in West Chesterfield to erect three mist nests to catch and record eight Nestwatch focal species.  Out of the eight Nestwatch focal species we were able to catch and band three different species, including a female Song Sparrow, a juvenile Carolina Chickadee and a beautiful (albeit, angry) male Northern Cardinal:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[Photo credits: Sienna Wildfield]

Read the rest of this entry »

Neighborhood Nestwatch Citizen Scientist Opportunity for Families in the Pioneer Valley

Citizen Scientists Wanted to Monitor Backyard Birds:
Neighborhood Nestwatch Citizen Scientist Opportunity for Families in the Pioneer Valley

Ever wonder if the robins nesting in your backyard are the same birds that nested there last year? If they were color banded then you would know. Amazingly, many birds nest in the same place year after year. By joining the Smithsonian’s Neighborhood Nestwatch Citizen Science project, you can help scientists answer important questions about the birds in your own backyard.

The Smithsonian Institution partnered with the US Forest Service in 2012 to expand their Washington DC based Neighborhood Nestwatch project to the Springfield, MA area.

Susannah Lerman from the Dept. of Environmental Conservation at UMass writes, “We are recruiting participants for the 2013 season. Participation includes a mentored experience in which scientists visit your backyard once every summer to band birds and help you find nests. We will teach you how to keep track of “your” banded birds, collect nesting data and monitor year-to-year survival for scientific study.

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: