Become a Community Scientist
Community science (formerly citizen science) engages volunteers in the process of scientific research. It allows organizations like SFBBO to expand the reach of our projects across geography and time, and also provides information on topics we are unable to explore on our own. Recently, there has been a surge in community science participation across the globe, thanks in part to innovations such as the personal computer and the smartphone. For 40 years, though, SFBBO has been a leader in this field. Community science has allowed us to create valuable, long term datasets that offer opportunities for universities, government agencies, and other scientists to ask big questions about birds. It's also helped us grow support for science, birds, and conservation in the wider community.
Due to the shelter in place advisories, many of our community science programs have been suspended. Please click on the + below for an update on each programs' updated opportunities. Also note there is a delay in the application process. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
- Annual Shorebird Survey - Survey for shorebirds during this one-day event, which occurs each year in November or December. Volunteers are assigned a location and record bird species and numbers on data sheets. This opportunity is appropriate for people with good independent bird ID skills and is open to people 16 and older.
- California Gull Surveys - Help our biologists survey California Gull nests by foot or by kayak during one day in May. No experience required, but a willingness to be near hundreds of active gulls is required. Open to people 16 and older.
- Avian Disease Prevention Boat Surveys - Help biologists move and clean boats and search the South Bay sloughs by boat to look for injured, sick, or dead birds June through November, one day per month is encouraged, but not required. Open to people ages 16 and older.
- Phalarope Surveys - Survey phalaropes on one or more Tuesday mornings July through September. Ability to independently ID Red-necked, Wilson's, and Red phalaropes required. Open to people ages 16 and older.
- Burrowing Owl Trail Surveys - Walk trails once a month at Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District preserves to look for evidence of Burrowing Owls as part of research to see if owls are using badger burrows. Open to people ages 16 and older and families. THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO VOLUNTEER OPENINGS, PEOPLE CAN BE ADDED TO A WAIT LIST.
- Colonial Waterbird Surveys - Track numbers of breeding egrets, herons, and other colony-nesting waterbirds on the first, and sometimes third, weekend of the month. Training is in January and volunteers must commit for the season, which runs from February through August. There are also opportunities to help with remote data entry. This opportunity is appropriate for all skill levels and is open to people ages 16 and older as well as families.
- Plover Surveys - Survey for Snowy Plovers at sites around the Bay during the breeding season once a month during a five-day window that begins on the Friday before the last weekend of the month. Training is in February/March and volunteers are required to commit for the season, which runs from March through September. People who volunteer during nesting season are eligible to conduct winter surveys in October through February. There are also opportunities to help with remote data entry. This opportunity is appropriate for medium to advanced bird ID skill levels, requires the use of a scope, and is open to people ages 16 and older.
- Tern Surveys - Survey for Least Terns at Bay Area sites during the breeding season, which is April through August. There are opportunities to survey these nesting birds every day of the week throughout the nesting season and volunteers are required to commit to monitoring at least once a month through season. Classroom training occurs in February/March and field training takes place in April/May (if allowed per Covid-19 advisories). There are also opportunities to help with remote data entry. This opportunity is appropriate for people ages 16 and older.
- Landbird Banding Program - Help biologists capture passerines in mist nets, band them, and collect data year-round at our Coyote Creek Field Station in north San Jose. Volunteers progress from Predator Patroller (patrol mist nets, report captured birds, deter predators); to Extractor (extract birds from mist nets); to Bander (band birds and collect data). Nets are open on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings just before sunrise and a shift last for six hours. One day a month requirement. Orientation occurs three times a year. This is not a training or certification program and a 3-5-year commitment is required. Open to people ages 18 and older. CURRENTLY ONLY PLACING NEW VOLUNTEERS WITH PREVIOUS PASSERINE BANDING EXPERIENCE. PEOPLE NEW TO PASSERINE BIRD BANDING CAN BE PLACED ON A WAIT LIST.
You can learn more about these research projects and how they impact birds in our avian science section.