Climate

How to Join Climate Watch, a Community Science Program from Audubon

Explore how North American birds are responding to climate change by participating in Climate Watch. Here's how to get started.

Want to use your birding skills to advance our understanding of climate change's impact on birds? Then Climate Watch is for you.

This innovative community-science program enlists volunteer birders across North America to count certain bluebirds and nuthatches in the same place (or places) twice each year. By sticking to a scientific protocol and sharing their results, these community scientists help track whether birds are moving in accordance with projections from Audubon's climate models.

This is a scientific effort, so following the protocol precisely is important. To that end, Audubon has recruited a network of Climate Watch Coordinators to help participants get the technical details right, including the selection of a survey plot and sharing results with Audubon's climate scientists.

Sign up to join Climate Watch below; scroll down further for more information.

Want to participate in Climate Watch? 

Climate Watch participants do not need to be expert birders, but should know how identify target species by sight and sound or be interested in learning to do so.

Click here to find a Climate Watch Coordinator in your area. The coordinator will provide the information you need to get started.

If there is no coordinator nearby, you can still participate. Click here to learn more about the scientific protocol and register.

Are you an experienced birder interested in becoming a Climate Watch Coordinator?

Climate Watch Coordinators are volunteers who manage their area’s participation in Climate Watch by recruiting participants, coordinating their efforts, and ensuring that the data they collect are submitted to the national Climate Watch team.

Interested? Sign up here.

Curious about Climate Watch, but can't participate right now?

Sign up here to get updates about the program and be the first to hear about future opportunities to participate.

Dates

Climate Watch takes place during two distinct seasons—winter (January 15-February 15) and summer (May 15-June 15)—each year. Participants are free to conduct their surveys at any time during these time windows.

Time commitment

Volunteers in our pilot period generally were able to complete one survey square in two to four hours (12 five-minute point counts per square). Surveys should either be started in the morning and completed before noon, or started in the afternoon and completed before sunset.

Target species

Climate Watch focuses on bluebirds and nuthatches: Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Western Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Pygmy Nuthatch. Bluebirds and nuthatches 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.

Location

Climate Watch focuses on areas of predicted change for bluebirds and nuthatches at each location across the continent. Audubon provides volunteers with maps of each location, overlaid with a grid of 10 km x 10 km squares showing species-specific predictions for each square based on the climate models. A Climate Watch Coordinator can help select your location and survey square. 

How to count

Using the maps provided, volunteers survey appropriate habitat within a square and conduct 12 point counts of five minutes each, then record the number and species of all birds seen or heard within 100 meters. 

How 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, 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.

“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”