Comings & Goings: Citizen Scientists @ Tracy Aviary

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Nature, Outdoor, Science

Comings & Goings: Citizen Scientists @ Tracy Aviary

– By Katherine Pioli

From the annual Audubon backyard bird count to the microplastics charting research by Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, citizen science projects, using average citizens to collect and report field data, is becoming an increasingly popular method used in science. After all, using relatively untrained volunteers to gather data has the advantage of wider area coverage. It can also be exciting for the volunteers who get to experience nature with attention and purpose that most people never achieve.

Salt Lake’s own Tracy Aviary is currently operating a number of citizen science projects and looking for curious citizens willing to volunteer some of their time.

One new series starting this month is the Migration Moonwatch event. This free, nighttime event held at Tracy Aviary will count nighttime migrating birds and measure nighttime light levels, looking at the effect light pollution has on bird populations. Spotting scopes and telescopes will be provided.

Tracy Aviary’s citizen scientists also conduct surveys in and around town (including City Creek Canyon, restoration sites along the Jordan River, and Alta ski area). Information from these surveys—baseline bird inventories, data about how birds are affected by human disturbances, habitat modification, and vegetation characteristics—is then shared with other partnering organizations. Coming soon: a survey on the broad-tailed hummingbird, a charismatic bird whose numbers are declining in Utah (it is classified as a priority species in the Utah Partners in Flight Avian Conserva­tion Strategy).

Migration Moonwatch: April 20, 8:30 p.m.-midnight. Registration is required for this free event. www.tracyaviaryconservation.org/moonwatch/

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