Living with Nature as Neighbors, you regularly see and hear wildlife right outside your window. We recently heard frogs and worried that it might be too early for them. (Turns out, they’re just fine.) The next day, we saw robins in the yard and wondered the same thing.
So we did some research to find out how early robins are sighted in the U.S. We were amazed and delighted to find a host of public and private web sites dedicated to monitoring everything from Aphids to Zebra mussels. Here, social media and public participation come together to help nature. With data from sightings, scientists and governmental agencies can monitor changes in wildlife population and habitat, which typically indicate environmental changes. These findings help promote further research to design protective measures or changes in human behavior where necessary.
Our favorite web sites include All About Birds and Journey North, which promotes “citizen science” by encouraging the public to report nature’s indicators: whooping cranes, monarch butterflies, even tulip blossoms from their test garden. This is where we learned that over 157,000 robins have already been sighted since January 1st – apparently our nature neighbors weren’t early at all.
We also found a flock of Twitter handles dedicated to tracking any number of migratory and local birds. A quick search will lead you to #birds, #birding, #birdwatching, plus a herd of other #wildlife designations. You are limited by time and imagination only!
So, next time you spot a robin, hear a great horned owl, or notice the first sprout of Crocus – report it on your favorite web site, or tweet it. Citizen participation in Nature as Neighbors is educational, informative, and can actually help our environment.