LINCOLN – The results of the Nebraska Bird Month 2020 Challenge show Nebraskans interest in birds and community science.
This year’s event was held online due to COVID-19. It would usually be conducted with statewide birding events. In May of 2020 though, iNaturalist was used. iNaturalist is a crowd-sourcing community science app that allows users to log their bird observations. There were five bird observations needed to complete the challenge.
North of 350 people used the app to photograph and identify birds across the state.
Jamie Bachmann said that participation was incredible. She also noted that the top observer made 299 observations on more than 100 different species.
With the 4,530 total observations made, an outline of Nebraska’s bird population was made. Unsurprisingly, the American robin was the most commonly found with 295 observations. Less commonly found were the scissor-tailed flycatcher, blackpoll warbler, blue-headed vireo, and evening grosbeak.
The iNaturalist app helps contribute to science in this way. When at least two people from the iNaturalist community make a bird identification, it becomes a ‘research-grade’ observation, according to Bachmann. A research-grade observation helps scientists understand bird diversity and population.
Bachmann believes that despite the Coronavirus pandemic, the online format was able to keep Nebraska wildlife watchers connected.
Nebraska Bird Month might be over, but that doesn’t mean people can’t stay involved. Celebrate Urban Birds, is a community science project that gathers year-round data on bird populations. Also, NestWatch monitors nest to help experts understand the reproductive biology of birds. Project FeederWatch is a winter community science project that allows users to survey their backyards by checking their bird feeders from November through April. More community science opportunities can be found at scistarter.org. For more information regarding Nebraska Bird Month visit https://www.nebraskabirdmonth.org/about.