Community Science

Scientists use information from these community science projects to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The longer and more broadly these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions.

Christmas Bird Counts

Every year MDAS participates in the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Chapter involvement in this popular community science project is one of our most significant contributions to promote conservation. The data is used in many important ways to determine the long-term health and status of bird populations across the continent.

Occurring annually for well over one hundred years, this is the longest running community science project. Now, with the addition of data from eBird, scientists can get a much broader picture of what is happening to species across our continent. Both individual species and numbers of actual birds are tallied. Effort and weather conditions become part of the data set that gets reported following the count. A count must occur between December 14th and January 5th. We have historically held our counts before the holiday season begins.

Our chapter “circles” extend into two distinct geographic areas. MDAS covers unique and varied habitats ranging from the Oak woodlands of Central County to montane on Mount Diablo and a riparian piece of the Delta. Each habitat hosts its own species and, accordingly, over the years wintering songbirds as well as migratory waterfowl and shorebirds have appeared on our lists. We used to complete only a Central County count and then, about fifteen years ago, the East County count was added to reflect our diversity. We have the good fortune of being able to access some private, privately-managed, and off-limits public lands in our counts. Such access is due to the goodwill that our chapter leaders have established over the years. We can be proud of that!

If you live within our count circles, you may choose to watch your own yard on count day and submit the data. Use the circle links below and zoom in.

Our Circles: Central County – East County – Both circles on one map

View the results (eBird summary) of our 2020 Central County CBC here.

View the results (eBird summary) of our 2020 East County CBC here.

For further information on the nationwide Christmas Bird Count effort  visit the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website.

FeederWatch (November – April)

Visit: Project FeederWatch – Sign up anytime!

FeederWatch, a Cornell University project, records the movement of migratory birds across the continent and runs seasonally from November to April. Following a specific protocol, participants record what birds are seen at the feeder during a set period of time on a weekly basis. Effort and weather conditions are reported as well as species and numbers. You’ll improve your observation skills and holistic understanding of species by spending concentrated time with your backyard birds. In addition you may become involved with a larger community of birders nationwide who provide photos and comments about their experience. You may begin participating at any time during the annual project.

Great Backyard Bird Count (February)

Mark your calendars: February 12-15, 2021

The Great Backyard Bird Count has been held every February since 1998. A joint project of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, it provides a snapshot of what birds are where just before the beginning of Spring migration on our continent. Participants report online what species and how many individuals they see on any of the four days during the event in a time frame and location of their own choice. If you are a regular eBird reporter, simply report as usual during the four days and your data will be included since eBird and the GBBC are completely integrated. The Count went global in 2013 and now has numerous checklists from more than 130 countries. The GBBC was the first online citizen science project to collect data on wild birds and to display the results in real time. It is an event that lends itself well to group outings. Only one participant needs to report the results. MDAS encourages its members to participate in this project because of its contribution to an important ornithological data base.

The 2021 Christmas Bird Counts counts are tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, December 15th (East County) and Saturday, December 18th (Central County). More information about this event, including how to participate, will be provided at a later date.