MI Birds

Community Science in Michigan

What's happening and how you can get involved!

By Linnea Rowse, Michigan Audubon and Ava Landgraf, Detroit Audubon

March 7, 2019

Community science programs contribute essential information to biologists working to better understand wildlife’s fluctuating populations and contribute to conservation efforts.  Biologists and other scientists simply cannot be everywhere all the time - they depend on nature lovers and backyard biologists like you to report what you see!

Birds are especially easy to observe because they are far more conspicuous than mammals, reptiles, or other fauna.  Other animals rarely announce themselves with repeated calls or practiced songs the way birds do, and very few can be identified by species just from listening to a call or song. Birds are also out and about throughout the day like humans; while many other animals hide during the day and come out at night.

Spring is a great season to begin participating in a community science project! Here are a few opportunities in Michigan:

Safe Passage Great Lakes (March 15th through May 31st): Each year nearly 1 billion birds die from bird-building collisions in the U.S. During migration, birds face many challenges traveling through large cities, from lit-up skyscrapers that confuse their navigation systems, to glass buildings that they can’t see. Community science volunteers are needed to monitor buildings in urban areas in Michigan that may pose a danger to migrating birds. The data collected is then used to start conversations with building owners and city officials about making the city a more bird-friendly community.

Monitoring buildings for spring migration will begin March 15th and continue until May 31st.  If you are interested in becoming part of this Community Science project in:

Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, please contact Heidi Trudell and Alice Elliott at Washtenawsafepassage@gmail.com.  

To participate in Detroit, Troy, Southfield, Royal Oak, or anywhere else in the 7-county region of SE MI, please contact Ava Landgraf at alandgraf@detroitaudubon.org.

To participate in the Lansing area or in Grand Rapids, please contact Linnea Rowse at lrowse@michiganaudubon.org.

Climate Watch (May 15 – June 15): Can you identify a White-breasted Nuthatch or Eastern Bluebird by sight or sound? Would you like to learn how to? If so, Climate Watch wants you! This community science project coordinated by Audubon aims to improve scientists understanding of how birds are responding to climate change. To participate, find a Climate Watch Coordinator near you!

Detroit Bird City (once weekly in June): Detroit Audubon and Detroit City General Services and Parks and Recreation Department partnered to create the Detroit Bird City project, which will restore five under-utilized city-owned parks into intentional meadows. These meadows will provide essential habitat for migrating songbirds, grassland birds, and pollinators. To gauge how the restoration efforts impact the wildlife biodiversity within these parks, volunteers are needed for pre-and-post-restoration bird surveys or point counts. Little effort is required! Point counts are conducted just once per week in June and take just 7 minutes each! With a little bit of bird identification training, anyone is capable of performing these bird counts! If you are interested in volunteering for the Detroit Bird City project please contact Ava Landgraf at alandgraf@detroitaudubon.org.

Questions about how you can get involved? Email MI Birds at mibirds@audubon.org.   

MI Birds is a public outreach and education program created by Audubon Great Lakes and Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Birders and hunters share similar conservation values, but rarely cross paths. MI Birds aims to bridge the divide, and deepen all Michiganders engagement in the understanding, care, and stewardship of public lands that are important for birds and local communities.

How you can help, right now