Five springtime projects for citizen scientists

By April 11th, 2010 at 10:32 am | Comment

by Brother Alfred Brousseau, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

California Poppy, by Brother Alfred Brousseau, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database (Project Budburst)

Now that spring has sprung in the Northern Hemisphere, Mother Nature is tempting winter-weary citizen scientists out of doors with all kinds of colorful, action-packed events. Buds are bursting forth, chatty bird couples are flirting and building nests, and the excitable atmospheric conditions of the new season are conjuring up fresh cloud patterns in the sky.

We did some cherry-picking from our Project Finder and collected five springtime activities that will get you out in the fresh air communing with Nature and contributing to scientific knowledge. Below you’ll find our first five recommendations. (We’ll suggest five more next week.)

Project Budburst: Take careful note of the “phenophases” of native plants in your area: first leafing, first flowering, and first fruit ripening of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses. Your observations, compiled with those of many more citizen naturalists, will provide researchers with environmental and climatic data to compare with historical records.

Butterflies I’ve Seen: Add to your personal online diary of butterfly sightings and share your knowledge with the major butterfly conservation organization in North America.

Northern Cardinal, via NestWatch

Northern Cardinal (NestWatch)

Nest Watch: Help ornithologists collect information on the breeding, nesting, hatching, and fledging activity of birds around you.

Project Squirrrel: Count the number of squirrels in your neighborhood and report your findings.  At the same time you help map squirrel activity you’ll also be contributing to research on the behavior of citizen scientists!

Students’ Cloud Observations On Line (S’COOL): While you’re on a field trip, on vacation, or just hanging out in your backyard, keep an eye on the clouds. Then report your findings to NASA to help validate satellite data and add to a better understanding of the atmosphere.

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