Mountain Birdwatch

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Thousands of intrepid hikers take to the Northeast's iconic mountain trails each summer. But for over a decade, hundreds of these adventurers have combined their passions for birds with their love of the mountains. They've become Mountain Birdwatch citizen scientists, and you can too by recording birds at a mountain near you.

Rising well before light to catch the first trills of the dawn chorus, our volunteers hike to designated points along trails to count 10 high-elevation bird species. These dedicated citizen scientists are doing their part to help keep the chorus alive for future generations of hikers, birders, and nature lovers.

Bicknell's Thrush at Dawn / © K.P. McFarland

Bicknell’s Thrush at Dawn / © K.P. McFarland

An Innovative Monitoring Project

Since 2000, Mountain Birdwatch (MBW) monitors songbirds that breed in the montane spruce-fir forests of New York and New England. MBW data provide the only region-wide source of population information on these high-elevation breeding birds, including Bicknell’s Thrush. In addition to avian abundance, MBW volunteers also collect information on the spruce and fir cone cycles and the abundance of red squirrels, a common nest predator.

These data are online and openly available to other researchers at the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity.

The MBW program has already provided some incredible insight into the population dynamics, regional abundance, and trends of Bicknell’s Thrush. Check out our latest research in the journal Ecosphere, and the resulting online fine-scale abundance map of Bicknell’s Thrush at Data Basin. We recently examined the population trends of the nine other avian species monitored in MBW; those results can be found in our State of the Mountain Birds report.

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