Climate Watch Citizen Science Program

Red and gray bird on tree stump
Red-breasted Nuthatch in Glacier National Park
On the heels of a recent NPS-National Audubon Society study of potential climate change-driven shifts in bird species distributions, Audubon launched a new community science program – Climate Watch – to test the science and monitor for expected changes. Climate Watch emphasizes highly detectable birds for which the climate models have strong predictions, and therefore focuses participant efforts on two groups of species: bluebirds and nuthatches. Specifically, Climate Watch participants are asked to survey for Eastern, Western, and Mountain bluebirds and/or White-breasted, Red-breasted, Brown-headed, and Pygmy nuthatches.
Volunteers complete one or more sets of surveys within a 10 x 10 km Climate Watch square, which categorizes projections for each species as improving, worsening, or static in climate suitability. Within each square, participants select 12 survey points that represent the best accessible habitat for the target species, and conduct a 5-minute point count at each point. A surveys typically take 2-4 hours and do not require the placement of any physical markers.

Climate Watch surveys take place in the winter (January 15 – February 15) and in the summer breeding season (May 15 – June 15). The summer survey period has begun, and interested parties are encouraged to engage right away!

Program success depends on dedicated, knowledgeable volunteers around the country. Volunteers can find more information, including a recording of the Climate Watch Training, at or can email the Climate Watch program directly at Volunteers can commit to conducting surveys on their own, or can go further and become Climate Watch coordinators; a Coordinator manages his/her area’s participation in Climate Watch by recruiting and training volunteers and coordinating their efforts.

Last updated: October 19, 2020