Volunteers Needed for Nightjar Survey

It's time for the annual Nightjar Survey, North Carolina! We are looking for volunteers who can dedicate a single night to listening for Nightjar calls during our May 25th - June 8th and June 25th - July 8th survey windows. This survey is sponsored by the Nightjar Survey Network, a national initiative organized by The Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University, along with partner organizations at state and local levels. The survey effort is entirely dependent on volunteer participation. If you are interested in helping biologists learn more about these amazing birds, please contact us, or visit the Nightjar Survey Network website for information.

What is a Nightjar? 

Nightjars are the most enigmatic family of birds in North America, and among the most peculiar in the world. Little is known about their biology, as their reclusive nature makes them difficult to study. They typically nest and rest on the ground, where their cryptic plumage keeps them well camouflaged. They are nocturnal, or crepuscular, and feed on large, flying insects. Though notoriously difficult to spot, Nightjars are easily identified by their distinct calls on warm, moonlit evenings. The resident Nightjar species in North Carolina are the Common Nighthawk, Chuck-will's-widow, and Eastern Whip-poor-will--pictured above. 

If you are able to learn the calls of these three species, and would like to dedicate an evening to helping scientists learn more about these fascinating birds, then please consider volunteering! There are still several available survey routes across the state.


Birding for Science - Spring/Summer Opportunities

nighttime surveys ©Scott Anderson
You don't have to be a scientist or researcher to participate in scientific studies! Even casual observations of the natural world can reveal species declines or previously unknown populations. In fact, many important, large scale studies would not be possible without data from the public! The NC Birding Trail has a new page of opportunities for novice to advanced birders and birdwatchers to collect data that will help scientists better understand bird populations.

Some upcoming projects:

1. Rusty Blackbird Blitz (Starting in March) - visit NCBT sites or other locations during the month of March and record any sightings of Rusty Blackbirds in eBird. - Some driving required; learn to identify 1 species; time commitment varies 

2. Nightjar Surveys (May - July) - Travel a pre-determined route at night, listening for chuck-will's-widow, eastern whip-poor-will, and common nighthawks. Don't be intimidated, there's plenty of resources to learn their calls! - Some driving required at night; learn to identify 3 species; ~6 hrs

3. NestWatch (Spring-Summer) - Find and record the success or failure of nests in your neighborhood, or nearby park. Nests could be in a nestbox or not! - No driving required; backyard species ID; ~2-3 hrs per year 

Stay tuned for other opportunities!


The Great Backyard Bird Count This Weekend!


The easiest birding event to participate in happens this weekend, February 13-16. The Great Backyard Bird Count is an event sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All you have to do to participate is watch for birds in your yard (or anywhere for that matter) for at least 15 minutes on one or more days this weekend then enter your data on their website or via the BirdLog AppCheck out their website for full details.

Not an expert? No problem! Bird-watchers of any experience level are encouraged to participate. The GBBC website provides resources for identifying birds, including some of the trickier, easy to mis-identify species. You could also use the Merlin Bird ID App.

If you don't have time this weekend, but are itching to watch bird for science, check out our list of annual citizen science efforts in the state.



Tennessee's New Birding Trails Website

North Carolina is not the only state with a trail dedicated to spreading the word about birdwatching opportunities. Florida and Texas were pioneers, and many of our neighboring states have trails, including Virginia, Georgia, and now Tennessee.

The Tennessee Birding Trail includes all sorts of resources for bird-watching enthusiasts of all interest levels. Sites can be searched by region, species, seasons, or keywords. They also feature a beautiful gallery of birds submitted by photography buffs. For the species-counter, there's a list of recently-seen rare birds from eBird.

Like what you see from Tennessee? What do you love about the North Carolina website (check out our site map here)? Any new features you'd like to see? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.


Audubon Birds & Climate Change Report

Last year, The Audubon Society released a report highlighting the potential effects of climate change on bird species using the most up-to-date modeling. The study identified 314 species that are either Climate Threatened (may lose over 50% of its current range by 2080) or Climate Endangered (may lose over 50% of its current range by 2050). Many of these species occur in North Carolina. The study includes interactive maps that visualize the estimated range shifts of these species (see this example for the American Bittern).

Data collected through two popular, long-term citizen science projects, the Christmas Bird Count and the Breeding Bird Survey were combined with greenhouse gas emissions scenarios to estimate range shifts of birds due to a warming climate. While the ground-breaking study is a first attempt, it represents the best information available quantifying the effect of our changing climate on birds.

You can learn more about the study and the climate threatened and climate endangered birds on their website.