Gulf Coast oil spill: Help survey birds at risk

Calling all citizen scientists in the Gulf Coast! Help survey birds in the beaches and marshes most likely to be impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

featureImage_summaryCornell University’s Team eBird has produced the eBird Gulf Coast Oil Spill Bird Tracker gadget that can be embedded in your iGoogle page for quick access to the eBird database.

This gadget includes ten focal species of conservation concern that could be impacted by the current oil spill. For each species, we display hundreds of recent Gulf Coast sightings on a map along with count information.

Spot a bird (even if it’s not one of the 10 focal species featured on the iGoogle page), enter some key data, and tag your location. Your counts will be aggregated with others and represented on the map as a stickpin (see right). Click on the stickpin and you will see the location name as well as a list of all the recent reports with the observer’s name and the species counts recorded in the Gulf Coast region since April 2010. This information can effectively steer beach protection and cleanup efforts to the sites with the greatest concentrations of birds and most important habitats.

The eBird team also wants you to know this:

Please remember that it is easy to change to a different species, region, or date range. Just notice the options for these changes at the top of your screen. Many other species, like Black Skimmer, Sandwich, Gull-billed, Least and Forster’s Terns, and even offshore species like Audubon’s Shearwater and Bridled Tern, are at risk too. The ten we have selected are simply some of the most conspicuous, engaging, and at risk species.

If you do participate in this effort, thank you! And be sure to share your experiences with the Sci4Cits community via the Member Blogs.

Thanks to Sci4Cits member Bennett Michael Harris of Reinventing Science for prompting us to research how citizen scientists can get involved in efforts to protect the people, environments, and wildlife most likely to be hurt by the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. We will continue to report on such efforts.

Categories: Birds, Citizen Science, Ecology & Environment

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About the Author

Darlene Cavalier

Darlene Cavalier

Darlene Cavalier is a professor of practice at Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society and a Senior Global Futures Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at ASU. Professor Cavalier is the founder of SciStarter (a popular citizen science portal and research platform connecting millions of people to real science they can do), founder of Science Cheerleaders (a non profit organization comprised of current and former NFL, NBA and college cheerleaders pursuing STEM careers), cofounder of ECAST: Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology and cofounder of She is a founding board member of the Citizen Science Association, an advisor and Fellow at National Geographic, a member of the EPA's National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, appointed to the National Academy of Sciences "Designing Citizen Science to Support Science Learning" committee and named cochair of America 250's Innovation, Science, and Entrepreneurism Advisory Council. She is the co-editor of "The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science," author of "The Science of Cheerleading," and co-author of the Field Guide to Citizen Science (Timber Press). Recently, ASU President Michael Crow awarded Cavalier and her team the prestigious Medal for Social Embeddedness.