With help from the National Science Foundation, Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab is tracking bird breeding biology and the impact of climate change on bird populations. Some of the best information they are getting is from dedicated “citizen scientists” who provide critical data on what kinds of birds are nesting where, the number of eggs laid, and the number of chicks hatched. These volunteers can do this across the continent, over long periods of time. Laura Burkholder, project leader for the lab’s NestWatch, says some species are laying their eggs more than a week earlier than they did just a few years ago, which could mean trouble if the hatch dates get out of sync with the availability of food. Bird watchers also help Cornell scientists catalog literally millions of images taken every 20 seconds from nestcams across the country. Animal Behavior Scientist Janis Dickinson, who heads the Citizen Scientist Program, says the cameras allow researchers to look at nesting success, daily survival, and long term events such as climate change.
A mile off the coast of Northumberland lies a unique island teeming with seabirds during the breeding season and home to 90% of the UK’s rarest breeding seabird, the roseate terns. Paul Morrison and Hilary Brooker-Carey are lucky enough to work here amid the wildlife spectacle, monitoring the seabirds and protecting them from egg thieves.
With its industrial landscape and port developments, at first glance the Thames estuary is not the most romantic of locations. But alongside the modern infrastructure wildlife thrives in the mudflats, saltmarshes and lagoons that fringe the river. The Thames is already a nature hotspot, but now it’s at risk from proposals to build a new airport for London.
Jumping in puddles, kicking up leaves, and listening to birds singing from the tops of trees. A group of families share their favourite reasons for getting outside.