Science Diary: Nestwatch – Retrospective
Music; Ambience: birds
JJ: “I’m very excited today. I’ve had male tree swallows swooping around the area. They’ve returned from their wintering grounds. Such a great sign, we’ve had great weather today, after a very cold and icy February.”
JM: Joni James’ passion for birds is widely shared. And as a citizen scientist with NestWatch, she contributes observations to a worldwide community of ornithologists and bird enthusiasts. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. This month, a look back at some of our favorite stories.
JJ: “I set out birdhouses, plastic gourds, so forth, to provide nesting sites for cavity nesting birds. And then during the spring and summer I monitor these and collect data. I keep track of what birds are using the sites, when nesting began, how many eggs are laid, when the eggs hatch, how many nestlings, and then eventually when they actually leave the nest.”
JM: Joni James observes what occurs inside a nest box via small video cameras she’s installed. Live video feeds can give her clues, and on this particular morning she’s got a hunch that mamma bird has laid an egg.
JJ: “Right before they lay eggs, they will do a shake or a tremble sort of movement over and over and over. And to me that always signals they’re going to lay an egg. So I’m checking this.”
[sound of nest box opening]]
JJ: “It’s a beautiful nest. Yes, there’s one beautiful white egg in this tree swallow nest. So I was right.”
JM: Information that Joni James collects becomes part of a national database at Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology, helping scientists to answer wide-ranging ecological questions about populations of birds. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.