This lesson introduces two major concepts: citizen science and online environmental databases, in this case, eBird, a global citizen science database developed and maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
*Note: Students should already have some experience with the techniques used to identify live birds through field observation in urban parks, waterways and neighborhoods. It is not within the scope of this lesson to teach these techniques, as the main focus here is on doing citizen science through data collection and online data submission.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology coined the term citizen science. Its earliest citizen science project was the Nest Record Card Program of 1965, which is now known as NestWatch. The eBird database was launched in North America in 2002 and went global in 2010. It is an online storage bank that compiles bird observation data submitted by thousands of volunteers around the world. In this lesson, the activities allow students to use previous knowledge to make observations of birds in the field and record them as data, then gain new skills inputting the data into the eBird database and analyzing it using graphs that can be generated on the website.