Public Participation in Ornithology: An Introduction to Environmental Research

May 15th, 1992 - July 31st, 1996 | PROJECT

Ornithology is one of the few scientific disciplines to which amateurs can still make significant contributions. Whether they observe birds at a feeder, count birds for a national census, or conduct a simple experiment, their activities contribute greatly to our knowledge of birds. Furthermore, participants in bird study programs not only learn about birds, they also become more aware of environmental problems. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology exists to facilitate such amateur involvement and education. This proposal is aimed at strengthening our education programs and expanding them to include under-served audiences in the inner city. We propose to evaluate the extent to which our radio program, magazine, and Project FeederWatch appeal to various audiences and how effective these programs are at communicating information about birds and in stimulating involvement. Based on this evaluation, we will modify our programs, then evaluate them again. We are also proposing a brand-new volunteer-assisted data gathering program, which we call the National Science Experiment. In cooperation with other organizations, volunteers will look at the biology of pigeons in our cities, food preferences of winter birds across the United States, and the habitat requirements of neotropical migrant tanagers. The results of these studies will be of interest to both ornithologists and birders; furthermore, participants in the project will gain first-hand involvement with the process of science.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Rick Bonney, Principal Investigator, Cornell University
Gregory Butcher, Co-Principal Investigator, Cornell University


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 9155700
Funding Amount: 807937


Access and Inclusion: Urban
Audience: Adults | Families | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Scientists | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Life science | Nature of science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Public Programs