The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has dedicated itself to interpreting and conserving the diversity of nature’s bird population through research, education, and citizen science projects.  Though I encourage you all to check out their website for more information on all of the exciting research going on in the Cornell laboratories, today I would like to highlight one of the ways you can help as citizen scientists.
One of the major projects at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology involves NestCams, which record live images of birds courting, mating, laying eggs, and raising young.  These cameras record a variety of bird species, including Northern Cardinals, Osprey, Blue Jays, and American Robins (to name a few).  As a scientist myself, I can attest that sometimes the hardest thing about science is not collecting data, but analyzing it.  And as you can imagine, with images recording around the clock, these scientists at Cornell collect a lot of data to classify and analyze!  This is definitely one way that citizen scientists continue to be essential for the success of the NestCam project.  The Cornell scientists have created CamClickr, which is a completely online-based citizen science project to help them classify their tremendous archives of video and still images.  Users simply log on to the CamClickr site and then choose the species and phase of the nesting cycle they want to start classifying.  It’s that easy!  User tagging and coding for species and nesting cycles occurs in two phases.  In phase one, users drag and drop images into photo albums that are classified according to presence or absence of nests, adult birds, eggs, or baby birds.  Once 99 images have been classified, users can then move on to phase two, where all images that passed through Level 1 are classified according to pre-defined behaviors.
Top “CamClickrs” are rewarded for their efforts – one point is awarded for every successful classification, and those points can add up to prizes!
P.S.  The image above is from a coloring book – happy coloring, kids of all ages!
Statistics from previous years:  Since 1999, NestCams have documented 90 nesting attempts by 17 bird species across North America.  That is a lot of data!  Hundreds of thousands of images have since been classified by citizen scientists like you and me.  Today’s top CamClickr is user name Claire K, with over 188,000 images classified!  Can you beat her?

  • Topics: birds, ecology, nesting cycle
  • Location: at home or close to home
  • Duration: a few minutes, whenever you can veg in front of your computer
  • Cost: free or low cost
  • Gear: a computer with internet access
  • Level of Difficulty: easy

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