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Around the Lab

NestWatch '13 Follows Record-Breaking Season

article spread
By staff writers
Photograph by Guy Lichter via Birdshare

Nesting American Avocets, Gila Woodpeckers, and Pigeon Guillemots were among the 27 new species monitored in 2012 by NestWatch, the Cornell Lab’s historic citizen-science project that assesses the nesting success of birds in all 50 states. Last year Nest-Watchers monitored a record-breaking 17,116 nesting attempts, including record highs for Eastern Bluebirds (5,343) and Tree Swallows (3,332). Ohio led the nation with 2,199 nesting attempts monitored, followed by Colorado (1,572) and Texas (744). Since the 1960s, NestWatch has monitored more than 400,000 nests of more than 500 species, making it one of the biggest science research projects ever conducted about birds.

“People-powered citizen-science projects like this, where thousands of pairs of eyeballs are collecting data on an immense scale, give scientists the best tool for measuring the impacts of environmental change,” said Jason Martin, the Lab’s NestWatch project leader. “Take climate change. Scientists need massive data sets to investigate the potential impacts that altered climatic patterns may have on breeding birds.”

Researchers analyzing three decades’ worth of NestWatch data have detected just such impacts—for example, a trend toward warmer springs that appears to coincide with Tree Swallows nesting as much as nine days earlier than they did previously.

By May, the nesting season will be getting into full swing, a great time to join NestWatch. For more information, visit the NestWatch website.

Notable NestWatch Numbers

  • 8 species broke records for nests monitored: Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, American Robin, Eastern Phoebe, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Carolina Chickadee, and Tufted Titmouse.
  • 10 nests monitored per NestWatcher (on average)
  • 24 NestWatchers monitored more than 100 nests
  • 27 new species monitored, from Acadian Flycatcher to Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  • 6 research projects used data submitted by NestWatch participants like you

Top 20 Species Monitored in 2012

  • Eastern Bluebird: 5,343 nests
  • Tree Swallow: 3,332
  • House Wren: 904
  • Mountain Bluebird: 739
  • Western Bluebird: 728
  • House Sparrow: 537
  • Carolina Chickadee: 407
  • American Robin: 257
  • Black-capped Chickadee: 220
  • Carolina Wren: 164
  • Purple Martin: 157
  • Prothonotary Warbler: 144
  • Violet-green Swallow: 103
  • Mourning Dove: 100
  • Eastern Phoebe: 95
  • House Finch: 91
  • Tufted Titmouse: 89
  • Northern Cardinal: 81
  • Northern Mockingbird: 72
  • Barn Swallow: 68

Living Bird Magazine

Spring 2013

Table of Contents

More Record-Setting Stats

The 2012 season was a record-breaking year for NestWatch, with more nests (17,116) monitored than in any previous year. Here are some of the chart-toppers in 2012:

Top 10 NestWatch Species

  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Tree Swallow
  • House Wren
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • Western Bluebird
  • House Sparrow
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • American Robin
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Carolina Wren

Top 10 NestWatch States

  • Ohio
  • Colorado
  • Texas
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • South Carolina
  • Maryland
  • Tennessee
  • California
  • Virginia
See the full 2012 stats here.