Help Document Bird Species at Delaware Reserves

The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) is encouraging visitors to help with a data collection project by documenting the species of birds they see while visiting the Blackbird Creek and St. Jones reserves.

The year-long project will help create a snapshot of the birds that visit the lands within DNERR’s boundaries, and will help provide input for conservation plans, land stewardship and restoration efforts.

The Bald Eagle, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Clapper Rail and tree swallows are among the birds that have been spotted by volunteers so far this year.

The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) is one of 30 National Estuarine Research Reserves across the country whose goal is to establish, protect and manage natural estuarine habitats for research, education and coastal stewardship.

The DNERR has two main components, the Blackbird Creek Reserve in Townsend and the St. Jones Reserve in Dover.

Birdwatchers often will challenge themselves to see or hear as many birds or bird species as possible within a single year. DNERR’s Big Year is a similar challenge, but visitors to the reserve don’t have to be avid birdwatchers to participate in the citizen science project.

“Citizen science projects like our Big Year and Chronolog are ways that visitors to the reserve can help with ongoing research,” said Laurel Sullivan, education coordinator for DNERR.

Chronolog stations set up at Blackbird Creek and St. Jones allow visitors to take a photo with their smartphone and upload it into a database. The photos are used to create a timelapse project to help observe and document environmental changes.

Volunteers who want to participate in DNERR’s Big Year Challenge must register. They can then log their observations during the year into one of two apps, iNaturalist or eBird. Volunteers can join at any time during the year.