Citizen Science

Citizen Science

Science was born from the human ability to observe the natural world, a skill each human still has today. To tap into these innate skills, MHLC is calling all volunteers to engage in one of our citizen scientist efforts to learn more about our public and private lands through simple observations. Choose one of our programs below and help us learn more through your observations in the field!

MHLC will be hosting educational events to help support these citizen science efforts. Visit our Events page to see upcoming opportunities!

“It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see” ~ Henry David Thoreau


About Birds

Photo by Dr. Pat Fox

Birds are literally the canary in the coal mine when it comes to learning about major changes in our environment. With a diet consisting of insects, amphibians and plants, organisms that are first impacted by pollution and climate change, birds can be the first warning sign of a larger environmental issue. By observing bird populations and their changes over time, we can learn a great deal about the current state of our environment and long-term environmental trends.

You can help MHLC observe birds in the Capital Region to add data to long-term data sets! Simply download the free apps below and start observing.

Merlinthe Merlin app was developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (the study of birds) to help users identify birds in the field. By entering the bird’s relative size and its coloring, you can identify what you have seen and learn birds by sight.

Learn more about this free app and download it here.

eBirdthe eBird app was also created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and enables the user to catalogue bird sightings by location. It also compiles eBird users’ lists, creating a global data set that is used to map and analyze long-term trends in bird species’ movements and populations. Use the Merlin app to identify what you see, then use the eBird app to capture your observation on the global stage.

 The eBird app also allows MHLC to see how many observations we are gaining from citizen scientists at our Preserves. All of our eighteen preserves are currently eBird hotspots allowing you to easily access lists of possible species you will see on your hikes at each location and get you up and eBirding right away!

Visit the app store on your phone to download this free app. You can view eBird statistics and explore hotspots in the Capital Region at the eBird Website. – to learn even more about bird species, you can visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds site. You can learn about specific species behavior, life history, possible look alike birds and listen to the many sounds a species makes from recordings from the Macaulay Library. 


About Mammals

A small group of MHLC volunteers are using game cameras, a passive observation tool, on MHLC preserve lands to record wildlife when no one is around. What have we learned? MHLC’s conservation work has provided safe homes for black bear, fisher, and scores of birds and other wildlife. By tracking these sightings, we can use the information to plan our future conservation efforts. Male black bears, for example, require home ranges of nearly 60 square miles. Ensuring enough preserved land exists to support their life history can help MHLC focus conservation goals in areas where black bear have been found.


To learn how you can track wildlife in your own backyard with a game camera, visit emammal’s website. Check our Facebook page for postings from our Wildlife Watcher group as they share their findings from the woods.


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