Photo © Keith Williams

May 2015 News


New Feature: Bulk Import!

Do you have nest records that are too numerous to enter into NestWatch manually, or do you know someone who does? In a recent survey of NestWatchers, we found that the majority of respondents with old data sets would be likely to use a spreadsheet upload tool, if one existed.

Enter the Bulk Import Tool! We have recently created a powerful tool that will enable us to accept thousands of nest records with the uploading of a single spreadsheet. But we need your help beta testing it to ensure that it is widely compatible. If you or someone you know has large amounts of data suitable for NestWatch, please contact us for more details.

Researchers, wildlife refuges, conservation organizations, and others often maintain large nesting data sets, but don’t have the time or resources to enter them into our permanent, open-access database. That was certainly the case for Rachel Reklau of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County (Illinois). Rachel graciously provided the very first test data set (3,769 nests spanning 14 years!) for the new feature, serving as the impetus for building a prototype.

Your gift will help
As we continue to refine this new feature, we need your help to reach its full potential. Even if you don’t have an old data set, you can still help us build it. Your donation of $30 or more is especially needed to help us promote this tool to new audiences. Every year, data are lost because of failure to plan for their final disposition. Computers crash, people retire, or the data are simply forgotten, but once lost, a precious spotlight into the past is forever darkened. You can help us ramp up our data-collecting capacity in a big way by contributing now!


Who Is Jill Freeman?

Sometimes we hear about NestWatchers who are doing an epic amount of monitoring—and it’s usually someone who has asked for very little or no credit. Jill Freeman of Colorado is one of those people, so when we heard about her, we knew we had to feature her with a short Q&A. Here it is:

Q: How long have you been volunteering with the Colorado Bluebird Project?
I have been involved with CBP since its inception, both as a member of the committee, and as the first appointed chair of the project. When we started receiving data sheets from other trail monitors from around the state, it just seemed appropriate that I do that data entry for CBP, and since I was already doing the data entry for my own project, and was familiar with the NestWatch program, I just thought that it made sense for me to do CBP’s, too.

I also volunteer at the Cherokee Ranch and Castle Foundation (CRCF). I took over as Project Director of the Bluebird Nest Box Project in 2000. We have 200 boxes spread out over five trails, with a total of 10 volunteer monitors, myself included.

Q: How many nest attempts have you submitted on behalf of these two projects?
In the 2014 season I posted 550 nest attempts to NestWatch: 331 for CBP and 219 for CRCF.

Q: What motivates you to volunteer your time?
I love doing this work, both the monitoring, keeping the projects running, working with my monitor volunteers (which are all absolutely great—a special breed apart), and the data entry part. I enjoy seeing the broader picture emerging as the data entry begins to reveal the successes and/or struggles from other parts of the state.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone who is struggling with data entry?
I would encourage anyone that wishes to do their own data entry, and are struggling with it, or have any other problems with their trails, to contact us (CBP, their local chapter, or NestWatch HQ), because we are all here to help them with every step of the whole process.


Welcome, BBGC Chapter

This month we welcomed our first chapter from Virginia, called Brambleton Bluebird and Garden Club (BBGC). The BBGC is a growing community of nature lovers who have gradually been expanding their NestWatch contributions since 2012. The coordinators are planning to participate with outreach programs at local schools and within the community. Welcome aboard, BBGC!

To find a NestWatch chapter near you, visit our online map.


Why Do You NestWatch?

Why do you participate in citizen science? A research team from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden wants to know. They’re investigating what factors motivate citizen scientists, particularly NestWatchers, to contribute data, and would love your help. Give them some insight by taking their short survey. It takes fewer than five minutes and your answers are completely anonymous. Understanding why you contribute allows NestWatch and other citizen-science projects to better serve your needs while collecting scientific data. Thanks in advance for helping out!