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 August, and are usually scheduled by July. 
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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.
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 by the hundreds of thousands, and NYC Audubon community science volunteers head to the beaches of Jamaica Bay to count and tag them as they spawn. Data collected by volunteers helps us assess the stability of the horseshoe crab population, whose eggs serve as a crucial food source for shorebirds like the threatened Red Knot.

Horseshoe crab monitoring is a fun and social activity that occurs on 12 nights from mid-May to late June. Volunteer monitoring occurs from dusk until as late as 11pm. Orientations are normally held in April. 
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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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