Animal Research

Citizen birdwatchers contribute to science

Once upon a time, there were birdwatchers and ornithologists.

The ornithologists looked down on the birdwatchers for their embrace of birds as mere entertainment and the wasted energy of their pursuits that left no permanent record for the betterment of humanity. The birdwatchers looked down on the ornithologists for their lack of appreciation of beauty and their occasional habit of dissecting the objects of their fondness.

But the birders secretly wished that their observations might benefit birds and add to the body of knowledge. And the ornithologists envied the strength in numbers of the birders.

Today, birders with little scientific training can contribute to...