Orange County Audubon Society volunteers count birds to better understand the impacts of our changing climate

Orange County Audubon Society volunteers count birds to better understand the impacts of our changing climate


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  • Eastern Bluebirds




  • Red-breasted Nuthatch




  • White-breasted Nuthatch with dinner.




— The Orange County Audubon Society (OCAS) launched Orange County’s participation in the Climate Watch bird count in February.

This community science program designed by the National Audubon Society to help scientists better understand how birds are impacted by our warming planet is conducted by volunteers semi-annually, in winter and spring. All collected count data is used to prioritize conservation of the places birds need, now and in the future. OCAS volunteers conducted surveys at 24 Orange County locations.

Local conservation effort“Citizen science opportunities like Climate Watch allow people to be part of the larger scientific community and gain a greater understanding of the natural world right in their backyards,” said SUNY Orange student Zoe Maxfield, who acted as data compiler and co-coordinator for this winter survey. “Helping preserve habitats at home is a great way to get people interested in conservation efforts occurring globally.”

The goal of Climate Watch is to capture changes in the wintering and breeding activity of bluebirds and nuthatches. The range of these two target species cover most of the United States and are anticipated to experience effects of climatic changes, such as shrinking, shifting, or expand ranges.

The question is how the birds will respond.

In New York, volunteers count Eastern Bluebirds, Red-breasted Nuthatches and White-breasted Nuthatches.

“Audubon’s 2014 research revealed that about half of all bird species in the United States are at risk of worsening conditions in the places they live if climate change continues at the current pace,” said Dr. Brooke Bateman, senior climate scientist at National Audubon Society. “Climate Watch is a way to test that research and provide key information about what help birds may need right now as they experience climate change.”

Next survey: May 15 to June 15OCAS will conduct local surveys once again during the summer survey period from May 15 to June 15. Volunteers interested in participating may contact us at info@orangecountyNYaudubon.org.

“Community scientists are critical to ground-truthing Audubon’s climate predictions and monitoring how birds are responding to changes in their habitats,” said Kelly Knutson, New York field organizer. “We welcome all interested volunteers, both experienced and novice birders, to help us test our research and improve our models.”

Have more questions? Visit audubon.org/climate-watch

About Orange County Audubon SocietyOCAS is a volunteer bird and wildlife conservation organization working to foster appreciation and conservation of all aspects of the environment.

In Orange County, the group is the steward of bird and wildlife sanctuaries. OCAS is a Member Chapter of the National Audubon Society.

Learn more at www.orangecountyaudubonsociety.org.


Where the surveys were conducted

The Orange County Audubon Society volunteers conducted surveys at 24 Orange County locations.
The 24 locations refer to 12 points, at least 200 meters from each other, within each of two designated 100 kilometer squares. ORAS teams were in both the village and town of Warwick at:
• Six locations around Wickham Lake;
• Six locations around Hickory Hill;
• Six locations around our Stony Creek Sanctuary and the Town Park; and
• Six locations round Memorial Park in the Village.
Climate Watch participants do not need to be expert birders but should know how to identify the few target species by sight and sound or be interested in learning to do so.
The key here is to record all the species you can identify.
Individuals and groups are welcome to participate by selecting a 10 km square from the online map found on the Climate Watch website.
Between May 15-June 15, counts will be conducted in five-minute timed instances at 12 separate locations within the selected square on one day of the count period.
For each location, you record the number and species of all birds seen or heard within 100 meters.
After collecting the data, you submit it to the Climate Watch team online through the EBird app. This can be done onsite or through a local data compiler.
The Orange County Audubon Society does not yet have tallies from the Jan. 15-Feb. 15 survey.




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