Be a citizen scientist: Help track whip-poor-wills

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is seeking citizen scientists to help monitor bird populations in the Pine Bush Preserve.

Volunteers who are ages 14 and up can join in on scientific data collection as commission staff guide them in recording as many eastern whip-poor-wills as possible on the evenings of July 11 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and Aug. 11 from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

Participants meet at the Discovery Center at 195 New Karner Road and then divide into groups to head out into the preserve. For more information or to sign up, visit www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 456-0655. Pre-registration is required for this event.

“This is a great opportunity for anyone who has an interest in the outdoors to contribute to our scientific research,” said Education Program Director Erin Kinal, in a release from the preserve.  “It doesn’t require any previous experience and all skill levels are welcome. The phrase ‘citizen scientist’ means just that — local citizens who contribute to scientific research.”

“The whip-poor-will is a nocturnal bird that is classified in the family of nightjars (Caprimulgidae),” said Conservation Director Neil Gifford in the release. “They’re named for the continuous ‘whip-poor-will’ song they sing on spring and summer evenings.  During the day, these well-camouflaged birds are hard to see as their gray and brown speckled feathers blend in well with tree bark and leaf litter.” 

Gifford continued, “Although eastern whip-poor-wills are still fairly common birds, their numbers have begun to decline and in some parts of their range they have disappeared altogether.  Documenting the presence or absence is what makes this citizen science project so important.  Local citizens can help us determine if whip-poor-wills are occupying habitat in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.”

For more information, go online to www.AlbanyPineBush.org or call 456-0655.

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