We love to travel to find new birds and participate in a lot of bird counts. We also created a Guide to Birding Field Guides and host a collection of over 200 birding links from all over the globe.


While our main focus continues to be birds, we promote other areas of conservation as well. Conserving land not only benefits wildlife, but is hugely beneficial to people as well.

Year of the Young Birder

2013 is officially The Year of the Young Birder! We plan on spending the whole year promoting young birder clubs and sharing ideas on how to help student naturalists become lifelong conservationists.

Ohio | Illinois | Iowa | Michigan | Indiana
Minnesota | New York

Check out the Book Review Library!

Phriday Photo – Leap Year

February 29, 2008
Article in: Photography

Gray Catbird
Hey hey! An extra day to go birding!


Citizen Science – Not Just for the Birds!

February 28, 2008
Article in: Bird Conservation

citizen science

There are citizen science projects that don’t directly relate to birds. Conservation on all levels is important, and we found a few great projects dealing with non-bird elements.

World Water Monitoring Day – Adopted by WEF in July 2006, World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) is an international outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world. Held annually between September 18 and October 18, the program engages communities in monitoring the condition of local rivers, streams, estuaries and other water bodies. Since its inception in 2002, more than 80,000 people have participated in 50 countries.

Naturalist D vs Drinking Fountain

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) -The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) began in 1997 at the University of Minnesota. It involves citizens in collecting data that will help to explain the distribution and abundance patterns of monarch butterflies in North America. In 2002, we received a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation to greatly expand training, analysis and dissemination aspects of this project. The National Science Foundation, Monarchs in the Classroom, and the Xerxes Society have provided financial and other support for MLMP.

Monarch (female)

Alaska Bat Monitoring Project – The Alaska Bat Monitoring Program is a volunteer-based effort designed to assess the current status of bats in Alaska. The goal is to learn where bats are found in the state and to assess their baseline populations. We are also interested in habitat variables associated with their presence. Because our knowledge of bats is very limited in Alaska, we are looking for observations to be reported from any area where bats are observed in our state.

The Great Lakes Worm Watch – Earthworms are not native to the Great Lakes Region. They were all wiped out after the last glaciation. The current population, brought here by early Europeans, is slowly changing the face of our native forests.

Spider WebWatch – Spider WebWatch is a biodiversity monitoring effort for biologists, naturalists, educators and students. From more than 4,400 species of spiders in North America, 9 were chosen as eight-legged ambassadors.

Jack in the Pulpit

Planet Budburst – . This national citizen science field campaign targets native tree and flower species across the country. By recording the timing of the leafing and flowering of native species each year, scientists can learn about the prevailing climatic characteristics in a region over time. With your help, we will be compiling valuable environmental information that can be compared to historical records to illustrate the effects of climate change.

You don’t have to be a Birdfreak to be a citizen scientist!


Citizen Science – Delmarva Ornithological Society

February 27, 2008
Article in: Bird Conservation

Delmarva Ornithological Society (DOS) is a birding club serving Delaware and peninsular Maryland and Virginia. This year marks DOS’s 2nd annual Bird-A-Thon, a fund raiser that couples pledges per bird species sighted in a 24-hour period. Last year this event earned over $28,000 and the goal this year is to top $40,000.

The goal of the first Bird-A-Thon was to raise $15,000 to help purchase seven areas of the Delaware Bay coastline to protect it for Red Knots. Red Knots have been in serious decline and unfortunately, have not gotten the protection they deserve. So, DOS has made it their goal to right the situation, and use birders to attract attention to this area of great conservation concern.

Red Knot – Photo courtesy of Lilac Breasted Roller under the Creative Commons license

The Bird-A-Thon is simple:

During any single 24-hour period from May 3, 2008 through May 11, 2008, birders may travel anywhere within the
State of Delaware to count as many bird species as possible.

The goal is to get pledges from not just individuals but businesses and schools, etc. Make a pledge to help out this great cause.

The Delmarva Ornithological Society shows what a bird club can do to make a big difference in the name of bird conservation and citizen science.

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Citizen Science – Cerulean Warbler Atlas Project

February 26, 2008
Article in: Bird Conservation

The Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea) is considered a high-priority Neotropical migratory bird. Sometimes hard to spot, the cerulean blue and white warbler is a favorite among birders, even though it is often responsible for “warbler neck”. The Cerulean Warbler Atlas Project (CEWAP) ran from 1997 to 2000 as a way to study the breeding range of this dendro warbler.

Cerulean Warbler

Due to the low population densities and sporadic distribution, the Cerulean Warbler was a perfect candidate for citizen science. Birders and biologists worked together to monitor known and potential breeding areas and the data was collected into a final report: “An Atlas of Cerulean Warbler Populations” [PDF].

The goal of CEWAP was to use the data to create an updated population analysis and provide future land management projects a set of guidelines. The work had some fantastic success:

During the 1997 breeding season, CEWAP researchers surveyed a Cerulean Warbler site known to local birders and found some 46 breeding pairs. As a result, the National Audubon Society’s New York Important Bird Areas Program committee identified the location as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Later in the year, when a private donor approached the Laboratory of Ornithology about local land preservation opportunities, the Cerulean Warbler IBA site emerged as the top priority. With the help of a regional land trust, part of this site was purchased. –CEWAP

The Cerulean Warbler population was estimated at 560,000 individuals in 2004 and has been in a steady, alarming decline. According to the Birder’s Conservation Handbook, Cerulean conservation is still in need of developing a baseline inventory of breeding and wintering populations. It is up to us as birder-citizen scientists to collect this data to help increase conservation efforts.

When spring arrives (or if you happen to be on their wintering grounds), make sure to add your Cerulean Warbler sightings to Priority Migrant eBird, an ongoing population monitoring program sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.


Phriday Photo – A Texas Memory

February 22, 2008
Article in: Photography

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in Weslaco, Texas at the Valley Nature Center.


Citizen Science – Garlic Mustard Removal

February 21, 2008
Article in: Bird Conservation

citizen science

Garlic Mustard, introduced from Europe in the 1800s has spread quickly throughout North America. It is a large problem because of how quick it displaces native vegetation.

Jack in the Pulpit
Garlic Mustard, shown on the far left, next to Jack in the Pulpits

The impacts of garlic mustard on birds are largely unknown, however, ground foraging birds may be impacted by changes in habitat quality. It does, however, affect a rare species of butterfly.

Garlic mustard also poses a threat to one of our rare native insects, the West Virginia white butterfly (Pieris virginiensis). Several species of spring wildflowers known as “toothworts” (Dentaria), also in the mustard family, are the primary food source for the caterpillar stage of this butterfly. Invasions of garlic mustard are causing local extirpations of the toothworts, and chemicals in garlic mustard appear to be toxic to the eggs of the butterfly, as evidenced by their failure to hatch when laid on garlic mustard plants. –National Park Service’s Plant Conservation Alliance

Generalized distribution of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in North America based on herbarium specimens and floras.Canadian Wildlife Service

Once able to properly identify Garlic Mustard, it is possible to get rid of it. If enough volunteers are involved, it might be possible to eradicate the plant from an area.

Many areas have organized days to pull Garlic Mustard. For example, At the Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve in New Jersey, volunteers pull and bag Garlic Mustard every May. It may be too much to hand pull Garlic Mustard in large areas, but we citizens can at least keep it from spreading.

The Birdfreak Team battles Garlic Mustard every year, but we pull it whenever we can. Anyone can be a part of the Garlic Mustard Patrol, let’s eradicate!

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Citizen Science – New Jersey

February 20, 2008
Article in: Bird Conservation

citizen science

The New Jersey Audubon Society uses citizen science to help collect valuable ecological information. They have many projects and detailed information on their website. There are three main projects New Jersey’s Audubon Society takes part in, grassland, shorebirds, and an area called the Piedmont region in the southern part of the state. They also participate in hawk watches and bird counts.

New Jersey Audubon Society’s Citizen Science program aims to:

– foster environmental awareness among New Jersey’s citizens through active participation

– protect New Jersey’s birds and other animals, especially endangered and threatened species through collection of data on bird distributions and abundance, population trends, migration patterns

– promote habitat preservation by improving our knowledge of the ecology of New Jersey through the contributions of Citizen Scientists.

713 Bobolink 04
One of their current projects are the 2007-2008 Piedmont Bird Surveys, which are in need of volunteers. This area covers about 1.1 million acres in southern New Jersey (see map below, from the New Jersey Audubon website)


This is a prime example of citizen science and its potential. If you look at the data collected from the 2005 grassland study, for example, you can see how useful this information can be for management purposes and biodiversity studies.

New Jersey is full of good birders and caring citizens, making them a great example of statewide citizen science!


Citizen Science – The Secret Life of Birds

February 19, 2008
Article in: Bird Conservation

citizen science

One of the purposes of citizen science is to bring knowledge and awareness to the natural world. The more individuals that know what a Henslow’s Sparrow is, for example, the likelier the chance that this species will be included in conservation managment projects. is where the Birdfreak Team manages photos and shares them with others. Flickr is totally free for a basic account. We found it is a great way to look at birds through another’s eye and to learn and share information about birds. It is also easy to post the pictures to our blogs and website pages.

631 Common Yellowthroat 02
Common Yellowthroat

Some groups on flickr are geared solely for birds such as Tufted Titmouse – The Bird and Crows. Some are used for citizen science projects such as Song Sparrow Variation and Citizen Science: Great Blue Heron.

We have started three groups on flickr, to promote and share birding coolness. The first group we started quite a ways back is called Free to Use Photos for anyone who needs a bird photo to use or add. We don’t take the best photos, but we thought it would be nice to provide a free bird photo resource for others to use.

Brown Pelican
The second group, The Secret Life of Birds is a photography group on flickr that anyone can add photos to, provided they show some type of bird behavior. This group has grown fast and is a wonderful place to find many types of bird activities.

This is our favorite group to add and look at photos of birds.

One of the reasons for creating this group is to learn more about what birds are doing and to share with others the great wonderful things about them. It is so fun (though time consuming) to look through everyone’s bird action shots.

The last group is called Birds As Art, to show the beauty of birds both realistic and abstract. If people love birds they will want to help save them and that is priceless!

Siberian Crane
Flickr bird groups might not save the world, but they give us a peek into the life of birds through thousands of eyes worldwide.


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