Hey! Citizen Science!

Yeah, I’m talking to you.  You, over there in the corner.  The one who thinks nobody notices that you like looking at birds.  Come over here.  I’ve got a job for you.  Really, I do.

Who does science, anyway?  Well that all depends on what you mean by that question in the first place.  As I’ve emphasized before, all good science starts with observation.  You can’t even begin to ask questions about something until you spend some time observing things.  It is part of the job of any scientist to spend time watching how the world works.  The problem with that, of course, is that it is hard for scientists to be everywhere all the time.  Speaking for myself, only, I will admit that I’m in no way magical (sadly).  This limitation brings me to your job.  Since you’re already out there watching these birds and things, really start to pay attention to what you’re seeing and where you’re seeing things.  Sometimes, the work that gets done by non-scientists becomes incredibly important to the rest of us.  The extra pairs of eyes (and legs) that you provide can generate all sorts of information for us.

All this comes out of a blog that was posted in the New York Times:

Kaufman, Leslie.  2011.  A riveting glimpse of a vanished bird.  New York Times.  28 October.

In this post is the story of a video of the now-extinct Imperial Woodpecker that was taken in Mexico in 1956 by an amateur birder (and dentist).  His work, his hobby, is now one of the only real records of this once-majestic species.  And seriously, majestic is the right word.  We’re talking about an enormous woodpecker!  Read the blog and watch the video.  It’s a fascinating view of the world that doesn’t exist anymore.

And now you know what you have to do!  Pay attention, observe (and record!).


About thomasbiology

I'm an Associate Professor of Biology at Queens University of Charlotte with a background in animal behavior with an emphasis in bird song. I've got two secret goals with this blog (well, since I'm sharing them, they're not so secret): 1. To encourage people to look at the natural world around them- not just as a hiking destination, but to notice all the little things moving around them all the time; and 2. To show some of the science that relates to these little things moving around. There's some really fascinating research out there that so few people get to see.
This entry was posted in birds, conservation, woodpeckers. Bookmark the permalink.

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