Citizen Science

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The Breeding Bird Survey 

The Breeding Bird Survey is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service to monitor the status and trends of North American bird populations. Following a rigorous protocol, BBS data are collected by thousands of dedicated participants along thousands of randomly established roadside routes throughout the continent. 

For more information visit: 

 For more info, contact Laura Hubers, SD Coordinator:


The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) –

This event repeats annually

February 12–15, 2021, the world came together for the love of birds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world


Climate Watch – The summer and winter seasons repeat each year.

Climate Watch is sponsored by the National Audubon Society (NAS)
& takes place during two distinct seasons—winter (January 15-February 15) and summer (May 15-June 15). Below is the alert about summer 2021, the latest season .

May 15th-June 15th, 2021

Like the Christmas bird count this is a chance to help create “citizen science” for birds. Climate Watch focuses on these target species: Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Western Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, Painted Bunting, Eastern Towhee, and Spotted Towhee.

These birds 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 may include additional target species threatened by climate change. We believe that western bluebird and painted bunting are not normally in SD. All the other birds occur in all or parts of SD.

Visit this page to see where these birds are in SD, and which are near you:

Location Climate Watch focuses on areas of predicted change for these 12 species at each location across the continent. Audubon provides volunteers with online mapping tools 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. If you are participating on your own, use the online maps to decide in which square to do your surveys. You will be able to see which squares are already “claimed”.  

How to count Volunteers should first make sure to read through all of the materials including the full protocol manual. The Climate Watch protocol is different than any other birding program. Then using the planning done with the online maps, volunteers survey appropriate habitat for the target species within a square and conduct 12 point counts of five minutes each within one morning, then record the number and species of all birds seen or heard within 100 meters. Participants send the data to the National Audubon Society.

How data will be used  Audubon’s 2019 climate change report, ‘Survival By Degrees,’ reveals that up to two-thirds of North American birds are vulnerable to extinction due to climate change. For example, the beautiful Mountain Bluebird is vulnerable 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. See the Climate Watch results page here to see our early reports and results from the data received by Climate Watch volunteers so far!

Link to the Climate-watch program on the National Audubon Society web page

Climate watch instructions for participants

Climate watch for beginners webinar, – this has much of the same info as our November meeting


Christmas Bird Counts  (CBC)

Christamas Bird Counts happen every year. Below is the announcement from the last one occurring at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021

December 14th-January 5th,
Christmas Bird Counts

December 14th 2020- January 5th 2021- Audubon’s 121th Christmas Bird Count (CBC) All official counts will be held between the dates of Saturday, December 14th, 2020 through Sunday, January 5th, 2021.

This year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count will mobilize nearly 80,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,600 locations across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone.

The censuses provide valuable data about the number of bird species and numbers of each species occurring within set geographic areas on an early winter day. The results are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, representing 121 years of unbroken data on trends of early-winter bird populations across the Americas.

When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years. The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps
identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. For example, earlier this year, Science published a study using decades of Audubon Christmas Bird Count data to describe a grim picture: a steady decline of nearly three billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities. Christmas Bird Count data have been used in more than 300 peer-reviewed articles.

Birders of all ages are welcome to contribute to this fun, nationwide community science project, which provides ornithologists with a crucial snapshot of our native bird populations during the winter months. Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. The volunteers break up into small parties and follow assigned
routes, which change little from year to year and they count every bird they see. In most count circles, some people also watch feeders instead of following routes.

What to bring?
Participants should bring lunch, drinking water, warm clothing and footwear. Binoculars, field guides and spotting scopes are suggested, for those who have them. The five-dollar fee has been dropped to encourage more participation and the annual published report, (American Birds) previously available in paper has been made digital.

Links to CBC web pages:

To find a count near you on an interactive map:

Other links:
NORTH DAKOTA (last years 2019 list) Dakota Christmas Bird Counts

Because of Covid19, the National Audubon Society asks compilers to cancel all in-person compilation gatherings. Social distancing and/or masking will be required at all times in the field. Carpooling may only occur within existing familiar or social “pod” groups. Activities must comply with all current state and municipal COVID-19 guidelines. Contact each compiler for details on their count – traditional gathers/meetings may not be planned.


Game Fish & Parks Bio Blitz 2021

This event (GFP BB) re-occurs annually 

Here is information on the last one in 2021 May 22nd- June 6th, 2021

Help South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) observe and identify species state-wide during SDGFP’s virtual BioBlitz from May 22nd-June 6th! A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. Please join the project and contribute to the knowledge of biodiversity across the state by posting observations on iNaturalist . Download the iNaturalist app or visit the iNaturalist website ( Create or sign into your account and join the project SD GFP BioBlitz 2021. –  Participation is free to everyone and prizes will be awarded to top observers!

This project is found  discussed under GFP education tab — learn more at GFP web site: