Citizen Science Opportunities

Citizen Scientists Needed

Not a wildlife biologist, but would love to participate in bird or habitat monitoring?  The individuals and organizations below could use your participation in one or more of the following citizen science projects. To learn more about each of the projects, just click on the link below for the project that interests you.

  • Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring
  • Alaska Loon and Grebe Watch Monitoring Program
  • Christmas Bird Count
  • Coastal Observation And Seabird Survey Team (COASST)
  • Great Backyard Bird Count
  • eBird
  • Nest Watch
  • Project Feederwatch
  • Yard-map

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring

Count and record shorebirds arriving at Kachemak Bay during spring migration (mid-April to late-May)

For more information: Kachemak Bay Birders – George Matz at geomatz@alaska.net

Alaska Loon and Grebe Watch Monitoring Program

Record Loon and Grebe observations at your lake or a nearby lake (late May to late August)

For more information: http://aknhp.uaa.alaska.edu/zoology/citizen-science/alaska-loon-grebe-watch/

Christmas Bird Count

With a team count birds in a particular radius on a particular day in December
For more information: National Audubon Society http://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count

Local Contact: Dave Erikson at derikson@alaska.net or Lani Raymond at lani67@alaska.net

COASST – Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team

Walk an assigned area of beach monthly and record any dead birds found (year round).

For more information: http://depts.washington.edu/coasst/

Great Backyard Bird Count

Count the number and kinds of birds seen at least 15 minutes on one or more the days 4 count days in mid February.

For more information: Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://gbbc.birdcount.org/

eBird

Record and submit your personal checklist of birds seen at any time and any location

For more information: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/

Nest Watch

Observe and record any nests/eggs/babies observed in natural habitat or in nest boxes during breeding season (April through August in Alaska)

For more information: Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://nestwatch.org/

Project Feeder Watch

Count and record birds seen at your feeders (November to April)

For more information: Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://feederwatch.org/

YardMap

Record bird habitat in your yard (or other area)

For more information: Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://content.yardmap.org/

2017 Seabird Report Card

The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge has prepared a “report card” on seabird breeding success in 2017:

 

Additional observations were provided by John Piatt, Karl Stoltzfus, and Victoria Winne:

(From John Piatt, 10-17-17)
Preliminary results. The usual caveat applies: Results may change a little with more complete analysis. 
 
1) USGS studied two colonies (Gull and Chisik/Duck islands) in Cook Inlet, and two species: Common Murre and Black-legged Kittiwake  
2) Things started out looking better this summer. Counts of both species were up. Things started out looking better this summer, and more nests were initiated than last year (which was a total failure). 
3) At Chisik Island, west side of Cook Inlet, kittiwakes abandoned nests early, and appeared to produce zero chicks. In contrast to last year, murres started off attending nests, and early on we saw at least 11 nests with eggs in one location. However, by mid-August all murres had abandoned breeding efforts, and appeared to produce zero chicks. This suggests much reduced food availability again in 2017. 
4) At Gull Island, east side of Cook Inlet, things were somewhat better, but not back to normal. About 22% of kittiwake pairs produced a chick this year, compared to 1% in 2016, and 46% on average in the 1990s. We don’t have final estimate for murres yet, but many eggs and several chicks were observed this year, compared to few eggs (all predated by GWGU) and zero chicks last year.  This suggests reduced food availability in 2017 but not as bad as in 2016.
5) At both colonies, the timing of breeding was quite a bit later than usual, and breeding was much less synchronized than usual. These are also indicators of changing and/or reduced food supplies. 
 
From Karl Stolzfus (10-20-17)
I did see a fair number of chicks on both Gull Island and 60′ Rock. I am not sure how many made it into the water but I did count about 50 murres with a chick on one trip that I had to Bear Cove so at least some made it. I think it has been about 3 years since they had any sort of nesting success in Kachemak Bay and the first time in about 30 years that murres attempted to nest on 60′ Rock. 
 
From Victoria Winne (10-18-17)
The birds seemed to do very well this year, with far less to almost no harassing by eagles, especially in mid-season. It was interesting to note a ‘new’ and dense grouping of murres on 60ft.
Most of the other species had left by the first week in September, with the murres remaining, still feeding their young – evident by the number still on the main murre rock, and birds with fish in their mouths.
Unfortunately, that is when our season pretty much finishes, with just sporadic visits to G.Island, and it was distressing to see eagles returning right about then. It is impossible to say whether the eagles managed to spook them off right at the end, thus exposing the almost fledged chicks to predation.
I did witness one lone eagle a few weeks earlier spooking all the kittiwakes, and watched in admiration as the murres tenaciously held their ground, so hold out hope that they managed to hold on.

2016 Christmas Bird Count Results

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT

FINAL REPORT

Forty two volunteers participated in Homer’s annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, five watching feeders in their own yard and the others out in the field. The weather was not too cooperative with icy walking, limited visibility for most of the day and resulting decreased available daylight hours, but many were expressing the same thought, “We’ve seen much worse!”

A total of 64 species were seen on the Count Day (Saturday, December 17). Highlights included a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW found at a feeder near Crittenden St., a BELTED KINGFISHER found in Beluga Slough near the culvert from the lake, and a single SANDERLING found among the ROCK SANDPIPERS on the Homer Spit. CHUKARS, a colorful gamebird related to a pheasant, were found at a residence out East End Rd, though possibly may not count as an official species due to their probable domestic escapee status.

Three additional species were seen during the Count Week (three days before and three days after Count Day): SNOW BUNTING, MERLIN, and GREAT-HORNED OWL.

There were 10,492 individual birds counted. Most numerous species were MALLARDS (3422), ROCK SANDPIPERS (1700), and COMMON GOLDENEYE (820). Only one COMMON MURRE was seen this year, compared to the die-off that was developing at this time last year when over 200 were counted. (In winter, murres are typically out at sea instead of here in the bay.)

For a complete report of species and numbers seen, check the Kachemak Bay Birders’ website, kachemakbaybirders.org.

A big thanks to all the volunteers who participated, to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge for letting us use their space for our meeting and potluck, the local Kachemak Bay Birders, and to Dave Erikson for coordinating yet another Christmas Bird Count. It was indeed a Great Day to Bird!

dave-at-cbc
Jim Herbert presenting Dave Erikson with a cake in celebration of 40 years as the Homer CBC Coordinator.

daves-cake

christmas-count-tally-01
BJ Hitchcock, Gary Lyon, and Hal Smith (tallying their species)
christmas-count-tally-03
CBC Participants enjoying the after counting potluck
chukar3
Chukar (non-native species) (Photo: Landon Bunting)

 

 

The CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT is the longest-running citizen science project in our nation, and in Homer it is always held on the first Saturday in the window (Dec. 14th to Jan. 5th). This year it will be December 17th in Homer.

The center of the 15-mile-diameter count circle is the intersection of Kachemak Drive and the Spit Rd. The circle extends east to Fritz Creek, south past the end of the Spit, west to the mouth of Diamond Creek and to the north where there are few roads. We do not go out in boats for our count.

Participants meet at 8:30 am at IOVC for coffee/tea/breakfast foods, get assigned to teams and areas, and then go out to count all the daylight hours. At 4:30 teams return and compile results and enjoy a warm potluck supper. Some participants also count what they see coming to their feeders/yard on the count day.

Each year on the Thursday before the count, Dave Erikson teaches a class on “Winter Bird Identification”. This class is valuable for new birders as well as being an excellent opportunity for more experienced birders to brush up on what birds are in Homer in the winter.

During the COUNT WEEK, which is three days before and three days after the CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT additional species are also noted.

2016 Christmas Bird Count Results

 

Homer’s Christmas Bird Count (12-17-16)

FINAL REPORT

Forty two volunteers participated in Homer’s annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, five watching feeders in their own yard and the others out in the field. The weather was not too cooperative with icy walking, limited visibility for most of the day and resulting decreased available daylight hours, but many were expressing the same thought, “We’ve seen much worse!”

A total of 64 species were seen on the Count Day (Saturday, December 17). Highlights included a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW found at a feeder near Crittenden St., a BELTED KINGFISHER found in Beluga Slough near the culvert from the lake, and a single SANDERLING found among the ROCK SANDPIPERS on the Homer Spit. CHUKARS, a colorful gamebird related to a pheasant, were found at a residence out East End Rd, though possibly may not count as an official species due to their probable domestic escapee status.

Three additional species were seen during the Count Week (three days before and three days after Count Day): SNOW BUNTING, MERLIN, and GREAT-HORNED OWL.

There were 10,492 individual birds counted. Most numerous species were MALLARDS (3422), ROCK SANDPIPERS (1700), and COMMON GOLDENEYE (820). Only one COMMON MURRE was seen this year, compared to the die-off that was developing at this time last year when over 200 were counted. (In winter, murres are typically out at sea instead of here in the bay.)

A big thanks to all the volunteers who participated, to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge for letting us use their space for our meeting and potluck, the local Kachemak Bay Birders, and to Dave Erikson for coordinating yet another Christmas Bird Count. It was indeed a Great Day to Bird!

 

2015 Christmas Bird Count results

Summary provided by Dave Erikson:

What a fantastic Christmas Bird Count here in Homer!  There were 66 species seen and three of these species had never been seen before on a Christmas Bird Count:Red-breasted Sapsucker, Anna’s Hummingbird and Ancient Murrelet.  During the Count Week (which is three days before and three days after the Count Day), an additional nine species were found, including a Great Blue Heron and a Chestnut-backed Chickadee, both very uncommon on this side of the Bay. Participants, including myself, did their best during the short daylight hours searching hard and long to find the latter two on the Count Day itself, as they had been seen the previous few days and would have been wonderful finds.

Nearly 8000 birds were counted in all. The most numerous species were Rock Sandpipers (2000), Pine Siskin (871), and Black Scoter (845); also hundreds of Mallards, Common Mergansers, Pelagic Cormorants, Common Murre, American Robins, Black-capped Chickadees, Northwestern Crows and Glaucous-winged Gulls. Species of note were six European Starlings, White-throated Sparrow, Townsend’s Solitaire, and—love them or not—there were 13 Ring Necked Pheasants (last year only one could be found).

The weather cooperated and the snow that was predicted thankfully did not fall.  This was a huge help although the heavy clouds meant the day was very short.  A big thank you to over thirty volunteers who participated, plus other feeder watchers.  Thank you to Dave Erikson as coordinator of the Count; this was the 39th consecutive Christmas Bird Count he has coordinated here in Homer! And a big thank you to Islands and Ocean Visitor Center for allowing us to use their wonderful facility.  

2015 Shorebird Monitoring report and data

The final version of the 2015 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring Project report has been completed by George Matz.

This report contains:

1. Report on the spring 2015 ground-based shorebird surveys of the Homer Spit area
with comparisons to surveys from previous years.
2. Spreadsheets of the observation data, by site, for the 2015 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring Project.

2015 Shorebird Monitoring: Final Report
2015 Shorebird Monitoring data

 

2014 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring Report (final)

The final version of the 2014 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring Project report has been completed by George Matz.

This report contains:

1. Report on the spring 2014 ground-based shorebird surveys of the Homer Spit area
with comparisons to surveys from previous years.
2. Spreadsheets of the observation data, by site, for the 2014 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Monitoring Project.

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