Welcome to the Bird Cams Lab!

May 7, 2018
Meet the Bird Cams Lab in 3 Minutes

Moments of Discovery with Bird Cams

Do you love watching the Bird Cams? We invite you to help us create a new project called Bird Cams Lab, funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of the project is to join viewers from around the world to make new discoveries using the cams. Think of it as like field biology in your living room: observing birds, asking questions, and joining a research team along with other viewers and scientists to discover the answers.

Watching the cams is a continual opportunity for discovery. We’ve enjoyed new and sometimes surprising insights that viewers have surfaced—check out some fun examples in our “Moments of Discovery” photo gallery at right.

Cam watchers have also surfaced valuable long-term observations. For example, viewers of the Red-tailed Hawk cam first used Twitter and then a Google spreadsheet to log each prey item brought to the nest. Together, they created the most comprehensive known record of prey brought to a Red-tailed Hawk nest, which was summarized and presented at the North American Ornithological Congress in 2016.

In 2014, viewers tallied 69 chipmunks brought to the nest, along with a diversity of other prey items.

Inspired by efforts such as these, we began to envision the possibilities for designing an online space where viewers and scientists could work together, co-creating real-time, online investigations spanning the entire scientific process: Observing birds on the cams; asking, discussing, and choosing research questions in online forums and live Q&As; collecting data by tagging live and archived video; analyzing and interpreting results with interactive visualizations, and sharing the findings online.

As we develop this project, we invite you to be our collaborators by providing your time, participation, and feedback to help us test and refine the tools and supports needed for an enjoyable and meaningful experience. We’re looking forward to lots of experimentation in the coming months to learn what works and what doesn’t.


Your Bird Cams Lab team
Miyoko Chu, Charles Eldermire, Ben Walters, Rachael Mady, Tina Phillips, David Bonter, and Jennifer Borland