Community Science

Community Science

New York City Audubon is able to monitor the City’s bird and horseshoe crab populations, and contribute to the safety of migratory birds, including endangered species, with the vital help of our community science volunteers. Learn more about our community science programs, and how you can get trained and become involved with our initiatives as a community scientist and volunteer. Make sure to sign up for our eGret eNewsletter to receive announcements about upcoming orientations, events, and the results of our ongoing research. 
Project Safe Flight Volunteer Annie Novak. Photo: Sophie Butcher
Project Safe Flight Volunteer Annie Novak. Photo: Sophie Butcher
Project Safe Flight
According to NYC Audubon’s research, between 90,000 and 230,000 migrating birds are killed in the City each year in collisions with building glass. Project Safe Flight was created to understand this grave threat to our birds, and find solutions. Project Safe Flight volunteers monitor and patrol selected routes in the City during the morning, once weekly over the course of spring or fall migration. Injured birds are taken to rehabilitators and typically released back into the wild, while deceased birds are given to NYC Audubon for further study and for donation to various institutions nationally and internationally. We use our collision data set to advocate for more bird-friendly buildings and mitigation solutions to make the City safer for birds. We cannot do this research without the dedicated work of our volunteers. Learn more about Project Safe Flight.

Collision monitoring requires a time commitment of about one hour, one morning a week. Schedules are assigned based on availability and route preference. Spring migration monitoring runs April through early June. Orientations are held in mid-March, and are usually scheduled by mid-February. Fall migration monitoring runs September through early November. Orientations are held in early September, and are usually scheduled by early June. 
See upcoming orientations
Tribute in Light 2019. Photo: NYC Audubon
Tribute in Light 2019. Photo: NYC Audubon
Tribute in Light Monitoring
NYC Audubon maintains an annual presence monitoring the Tribute on the night of September 11, to ensure the beauty of the memorial does not compromise the safe passage of nocturnally migrating birds—which sometimes get “trapped” in the light beams in great numbers. Staff and volunteers monitor the Tribute throughout the night to ensure that migrating birds continue their flight without interference. Volunteers must be available to monitor in late night and early morning hours on September 11-12 (in two-hour shifts, until 6am). An orientation is held in early September, and is usually scheduled in June. 
See upcoming orientations
Horseshoe Crab volunteers monitor crabs on nights of the new and full moon in May and June. Photo: Debra Kriensky
Horseshoe Crab volunteers monitor crabs on nights of the new and full moon in May and June. Photo: Debra Kriensky
Horseshoe Crab Monitoring
Each year, Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs come to the eastern coastal shores of North America to breed in the hundreds of thousands. NYC Audubon ventures out during the new and full moons in May and June to count and tag spawning horseshoe crabs. Our staff and community science volunteers monitor horseshoe crab breeding to assess the stability of the population, whose eggs serve as a crucial food source for shorebirds like the threatened Red Knot. Learn more about our horseshoe crab monitoring project. Horseshoe crab monitoring is a family-friendly activity that occurs on 12 nights (from dusk until as late as 11pm) in May and June. Orientations are normally held in April. 
See upcoming orientations
Audubon Christmas Bird Count group surveys birds in Central Park, 2019. Photo: NYC Audubon
Audubon Christmas Bird Count group surveys birds in Central Park, 2019. Photo: NYC Audubon
Audubon Christmas Bird Count
Every year in mid-December, NYC Audubon plays its part in this annual survey of birds across the Americas. In this 120-year-old collaborative effort to count birds of all kinds, the data collected by observers is then used to allow researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. You can participate in the Christmas Bird Count in all five boroughs of New York City. Learn more about the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and how to sign up.
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The New York State Breeding Bird Atlas III runs from 2020 to 2024. Image: New York State Breeding Bird Atlas
The New York State Breeding Bird Atlas III runs from 2020 to 2024. Image: New York State Breeding Bird Atlas
New York Breeding Bird Atlas III
The New York Breeding Bird Atlas is a statewide inventory of all the birds breeding in the state. The first Atlas was conducted from 1980 to 1985 and the second from 2000 to 2005. The third Atlas launched on January 1, 2020 and runs through 2024. NYC Audubon is co-coordinating the current Atlas in New York City. Volunteers record all the bird species in their local area and document evidence of breeding. The results of the third Atlas will allow New York State to detect distributional changes in New York's avifauna over the last 40 years.
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Red Knots and Dunlin migrating through Jamaica Bay in May. Photo: Don Riepe
Red Knots and Dunlin migrating through Jamaica Bay in May. Photo: Don Riepe
Shorebird Blitz
The NYC Shorebird Blitz is a community science initiative that aims to find the total number of shorebirds using our City during a 24-hour snapshot period. This project helps us answer important conservation questions such as how many shorebirds are coming through our area during peak spring and fall migration, how they are distributed throughout the City, what they are doing while here, and what disturbances they face. The Shorebird Blitz is typically held in mid-May and again in late August.
See upcoming blitzes
The Great Backyard Birdcount. Graphic: National Audubon Society
The Great Backyard Birdcount. Graphic: National Audubon Society
The Great Backyard Bird Count
Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count is a community-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Over four days each February, volunteers spend at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and tally the numbers and species of birds seen, recording their observations on eBird. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish! Learn more and get involved in the Great Backyard Bird Count. 
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