Back Yard Bird Survey

About this project

Students will explore the intersections of conservation, art, and technology while learning careful observation and data collecting skills.

Have you ever heard the term “citizen scientist”? Anyone can assist scientific research by sharing the observations of nature through crowd sourcing, which extends data collecting capabilities for researchers. Calder is fascinated by the inclusive collaboration growing between technology and conservation. She participates in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count in January, The Great Backyard Bird Count online, and can identify new species using the iBird app on her iPhone.

Using Calder’s illustrated survey of birds, take your students on an urban bird-scouting adventure near your school. Alternately, send the survey home with students to be completed individually in their own backyard. Typically, birds will be more plentiful in the early morning of late afternoon. Explain to your students they will be able to see more birds if they stay quiet and move slowly. You could also have students sit down as they observe.

Encourage students to look for clues, pay attention to sounds, and think about where birds might be found and why. Have students closely observe details to be able to determine the species of bird.

  • How big is the bird?
  • Does it have a long or short beak?
  • What colors are it’s tail feathers?
  • Have students circle the birds that they see or list the name of a bird not found on the survey.

Collect the surveys from the students and, if necessary, help them enter the data onto the Audubon Society’s eBird website and create an account. Use eBird to follow data collected by others in your city and further discuss students’ observations.

A guide for your city can be created! Contact Calder at