Be a citizen scientist with project NestWatch!

By: Emily Imhoff, Zoology Collection Manager

Looking for an activity to get you out of the house this summer, while maintaining proper social distancing? Want to learn more about the animals living around you? Consider participating in Project NestWatch!

Project NestWatch is a national citizen science program that is run by a top bird research lab, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Participants will learn about their bird neighbors and how they raise their young. You do need to either be an adult, or have an adult in your household who can help you. You also need access to the internet to be able to submit your data.

First you’ll need to visit the Project NestWatch website to learn more about birds and how to safely observe their nests at You’ll need to sign up, do a little reading, and take a quiz to show that you understand the project.

Next you will have to find a nest! Make sure it is close enough to your home that you can visit it regularly, ideally within walking distance. If you can’t find a nest right now, keep looking over the next few weeks.

How do you find a nest? There are lots of tips on the NestWatch website. Things you can look for are birds carrying twigs or other nest materials, pairs of birds hanging out together, birds repeatedly coming and going from the same place, etc.

After you find a nest, you’ll need to visit it every few days to make an observation, being careful not to disturb the nest. Are there eggs? How many? Is one of the parents incubating the eggs (sitting on them)? What species of bird are the parents? Are there any babies? How many? Do they have feathers? These are the kinds of questions you’ll answer.

Finally, report your observations to Project NestWatch. You can do this online on your computer, or using a phone app. It’s easy! The data you collect will help bird scientists better understand bird reproduction. If you have questions or need additional guidance or help, contact the CMC Zoology Department at and we’ll be happy to assist.

There is plenty more information about the project and how you can get involved on the website, so if you think you might be interested, check it out at!

Posted in Zoology.