Climate Watch: A New Citizen Science Project to Survey Nuthatch Populations

You can participate in a new citizen science project to help determine the impact of climate change on our local birds.

Three years ago, the National Audubon Society published the results of its long-term study of the effects of climate change on North America’s birds. That study showed clearly that 314 species of birds in North America will be impacted seriously by climate change in the next 30-60 years.  In North Carolina, almost 170 species of birds are included in that number.

The new citizen science project is under way through National Audubon. “Climate Watch” will provide information on those birds likely to experience the greatest impacts of climate change.

In North Carolina, we will focus on our three nuthatch species. White-breasted, Brown-headed, and Red-breasted Nuthatches will be systematically surveyed over the next three years during two observation periods. From June 1-15 of this year, our chapter will be responsible for surveying nuthatch populations in designated areas within Guilford County.

Then, Jan. 15-30, 2018, the study will be repeated on the same locations. Additional surveys will take place in January and June of 2019. Our results will become part of a national database to determine real-time trends in nuthatch populations.

“Projects like this one keep the ledger of how birds are being affected by climate change,” said Kim Brand, Audubon North Carolina Field Organizer. “Over time we’ll be able to see how bird populations respond to climate change and adjust our conservation strategies accordingly.”

During May, 16 sites in Guilford County will be selected based on their likelihood of including good habitat for nuthatches. Volunteers will be asked to count nuthatches (and bluebirds) in those areas during that two-week period. We’ll need to gather a group of birders who can identify Brown-headed and White-breasted Nuthatches by sight and sound.

Please consider participating in this very important study to help document the predictions made by Audubon’s Climate Change report!

By Lynn Moseley