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The Daily Bucket is a place where we share our observations about the natural world. Whether we note the birds migrating through in fall or the appearance of a new bug, we are building a resource to learn more about the patterns of nature and how they may be changing. Everyone is welcome to contribute!  Just tell us what you are seeing in your backyard or wherever you are roaming and approximately where your observations come from.
Daily Bucket is a great place for recording the year-to-year variation in regularly recurring events as well as one-of-a-kind and unexpected observations.  Many of our observations can do double duty as data for organized citizen science projects. Follow me below the orange bird nest and I'll talk about some of the projects to which I contribute data. I'd love to hear about projects that others are involved in.  


In a Daily Bucket comment a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that we'd joined the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.  I can now confidently say that, within the 24 hours from 8am yesterday to 8am today, we've had 0.15 inches of rainfall.  CoCoRaHS is a non-profit community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and report precipitation rain, hail, and snow. Every day at 8am PT, I go out to read our rain gauge and enter the data to produce maps like this one (our green dot hadn't shown up on the map yet when I took this screenshot):

Rainfall in NW Washington on Nov. 5, 2012
CoCoRaHS asks that participants all use the same equipment.  So we ordered and installed their rain gauge.
CoCoRaHS rain gauge
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are major sponsors of CoCoRaHS. CoCoRaHS data are used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals including the National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, mosquito control, ranchers and farmers, outdoor & recreation interests, teachers, students, and neighbors in the community.

CoCoRaHS is actively recruiting new participants.  They have examples from their data that show just how much rainfall can vary within just a few miles.  Here's a snapshot of New Jersey data as Sandy was making landfall.

New Jersey on Oct. 29, 2012
There are regions of the country where they currently have very few observers and would like to have many more.  A recent plea says:  
For much of the country we only have one or two reports per county. Despite good progress this year, we still have a few hundred counties nationally with no active reporters.
So, look on their website to see how well your region is covered and consider joining.

Project FeederWatch

Cornell's Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch begins a new season this coming Saturday November 10th.  This will be my 3rd season participating in FeederWatch.  

Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders in your backyard.  As the website says:

FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

It's a great wintertime indoor activity as you can sit inside and count birds coming to your feeders.  You select two consecutive days once every two weeks (or every week, if you enter data online, as I do) and count birds during all or part of those days.

Here's my data from last season:

If you put out feeders and are already watching them regularly, consider signing up for Project FeederWatch.


I expect that many of us already use eBird to keep track of our bird sightings, including our Yardlists.   As eBird's website explains:

A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.
You can enter where, when, and what you have seen during your birding excursions.  You can keep track of your own personal checklists under My eBird. But the real impact is that your observations are integrated into a database that can be explored.   Like this:
Where did Snowy Owls appear last winter?
So what citizen science projects, beyond Daily Bucket, do you contribute your data to?   Even if you aren't participating in a nationwide project, what's happening in your neighborhood?

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 08:11 AM PST.

Also republished by J Town.

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