(photo by Wolfgang Wander, via Wikimedia Commons)
Since 2016, National Audubon’s Climate Watch community science program has been collecting data to determine how North American birds are responding to climate change.
This innovative community-science program enlists volunteer birders across North America to count certain target species twice each year. The data collected by volunteer scientists help track whether birds are moving in accordance with projections from Audubon’s climate models.
Seattle Audubon currently runs Climate Watch counts in four distinct squares in the Seattle Area, following the precise scientific protocols outlined by the program developers. See below for details on where we collect data and how to help in the effort!
Survey Timing & Time Commitment
Climate Watch takes place during two distinct seasons: Winter (January 15-February 15,) and Summer (May 15-June 15) each year.
Depending on the number of count sites in each park, surveys can be completed in as little as 30 minutes or up to two and a half hours. Surveys are generally scheduled for weekend mornings.
The Seattle Audubon Climate Watch program will focus on counting red-breasted nuthatches and spotted towhees.
These birds are easy to identify, have an enthusiastic constituency, and Audubon’s climate models for these species offer strong predictions for range shifts for us to test. In future years, Climate Watch will include additional target species threatened by climate change covering a broader range of habitats and regional interests.
Seattle Audubon Climate Watch survey points are located in four distinct squares:
Square 1: Shoreline (Boeing Creek Park and Hamlin Park)
Square 2: North Seattle (Washington Park Arboretum and Ravenna Park)
Square 3: South Seattle/Mercer Island (Seward Park and Pioneer Park)
Square 4: Northwest Seattle (Discovery Park) coming spring 2023!
Square 5: West Seattle (Schmitz Park, Lincoln Park, and Westcrest Park)
We will be adding sites in Renton and Burien in 2024.
How the data will be used
Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report predicts that more than 300 North American bird species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080. For example, the beautiful Mountain Bluebird is climate-threatened because in the vast majority of its summer range, the climate conditions that this bird needs—temperature, amount of rainfall, and other environmental factors—will shift northward and eastward. This bird may be able to move into new areas over time, or it may struggle to adapt.
To test the report’s predictions, National Audubon has developed Climate Watch, which aims to document species’ responses to climate change and test Audubon’s climate models by having volunteers in the field look for birds where Audubon’s climate models predict they will be in the 2020s. This information helps Audubon target our conservation work to protect birds.
Who can Volunteer?
Anyone with the ability to identify Red-breasted Nuthatches and Spotted Towhees by both sight and sound are welcome to participate. The protocol is very straightforward and easy to follow so anyone who is interested in volunteering their time to the effort is welcome to participate.
Contact Hanae Bettencourt at email@example.com for more info and to participate!