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New BioBlitz 2013 Video: Bird Inventory

bobh Posted by bobh in Mission: Geography! on Jun 5, 2013 12:26:30 PM

Even though BioBlitz 2013 is over, I still have unedited  video that I'm pulling together... This is the result of one set, from our walk early Saturday morning.

This video blog of our early morning bird inventory with National Geographic Explorer Neil Losin gives you a good feel for what these kinds of inventories are like. While the plant, insect, amphibian, fish, reptile, etc inventories all involve getting close to the critters, and sometimes catching them, bird inventories are usually a matter of walking, listening and spotting.

(NOTE: Some Bioblitz groups do set up "mist nets" -- fine netting suspended between two trees or posts for catching birds -- but that's mostly for the purpose of banding the birds. Most of the actual bird IDs come from spotting them at a distance)

It's best to get out early in the morning, when the birds are most active (and vocal). You'll want some good binoculars and/or a small scope on a tripod that kids can look through. There are bird identification apps available, though Neil just used his memory, while John Francis, also from National Geographic, used a field guide.

One suggestion for all Bioblitz inventories, but especially for bird inventories, is to have kids practice being quiet and attentive to the environment before you begin. Ideally, they'd try just listening (and feeling and smelling) the environment for 15 minutes or more without saying anything. Of course, if the best you can get is five minutes or one minute, that's better than nothing!

If they need some sort of task/goal, you can have them try to figure out how many kinds of birds there are around them by listening to their songs.

A possible "pre-activity" would be to have them learn the songs of five birds that they are likely to encounter on their walk. Ideally, have kids learn different bird songs, so that as a group you can identify quite a few.

At least one person (and sometimes every person) needs to record what you find. We will be updating our "Active Explorer" smartphone app later this summer to include the ability to fill in data charts with, for example, species names. So that will be a handy tool for BioBlitzes or any other activity involving gathering textual or numeric data in an organized way.

As always, happy to answer questions!

For more biodiversity resources and discussions, visit the All About Science group and the BioBlitz Collection page at Science Netlinks.


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