Around the world, birds are busily building nests and raising families—even near homes, offices or in local parks.
Anyone who finds a bird's nest can help the scientists who study birds by reporting their observations to the NestWatch project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
The nationwide monitoring program tracks status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, the number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive.
The information is collected by volunteer citizen scientists, and is a vital component to breeding-bird studies.
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.
To become a certified NestWatcher, simply follow the directions on the website to find a bird nest using the helpful tips, visit the nest every 3 or 4 days and record what you see, and then report your findings on the website.
You can register for the project at NestWatch.org and learn more about how to monitor nests without disturbing the birds.
Download the NestWatch app in the Apple App Store or from Google Play.
Your observations will be added to those from thousands of other NestWatchers in a continually growing database used by researchers to understand and study birds.
Volunteers’ observances make it possible for scientists to gather enough information to accurately monitor nesting birds across the country.
While you are contributing extremely valuable information to science, you will learn firsthand about birds and create a lifelong bond with the natural world.
"Every year, scientists use data collected by NestWatchers in published studies," says Robyn Bailey, NestWatch project leader. "For example, in 2018, two studies examined the effects of spring temperatures on the timing of nesting activities, and showed that birds nest earlier when spring temperatures are warmer.”
The NestWatch website and mobile app now accept reports submitted from anywhere in the world, enabling scientists to compare birds across their global breeding range.
“I love this app, and I'm really looking forward to using it this season,” says Samuel Bressler, a NestWatch participant.
Give a bird a home
You can learn about which birds you can help give a home by building a next box or a nest structure for in your area and habitat on the NestWatch website.
Interactive and infographic links will show you the features of a good birdhouse, how to build and install one, as well as tips on nest box placement.
If you’re interested in watching nest activity from afar, you can also learn how to install a nest box camera.