American Spring Live: Celebrate Urban Birds

What is a citizen scientist?

Quick Information

Want to learn how to identify the 5 regional Nebraska species listed below or any of our 16 focal species?

  1. American Goldfinch
  2. Blue Jay
  3. Downy Woodpecker
  4. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  5. Northern Cardinal

Follow these simple steps and celebrate urban birds with us!

  • Location: Whether you are in the city or a rural area, anyone can participate.
  • Birdwatching site: Your site can be wherever you want, by the water or even in a parking lot, it is your choice. In addition, you can pick more than one site and compare them! Just remember that each site must be observed 3 times within a month.
  • Repeating data: It is important that you repeat your observations, in the same area, 3 times because it helps ensure the quality of the data.
  • Viewing data: On the Celebrate Urban Birds website, you can view participants’ maps, your checklists, species maps, and download data.
  • Notes: Feel free to leave any notes that you feel are important. For example, if you see an exciting bird that is not on the focal species list then you can include it in your notes.

Now, let’s get started!

Want to see how Celebrate Urban Birds is impacting other citizen scientists? Check out American Spring Live episode 2 at 40 minutes, or enjoy the whole episode on Migration.

Fun Facts

Migratory Bird Act

The Migratory Bird Act was passed in 1918 and is the most important bird protection law in the United States. With the support of Audubon advocates and other early conservationists, the act (MBTA) protects nearly all of our country’s native birds.

American Robin, Did You Know?

  • Robins have one of the most recognizable eggs in the world. Their eggs are a vibrant light blue/green color.
  • American Robins are the state bird for Michigan, Wisconsin, and Connecticut.
  • Also, American Robin is more like us than you think. They have a sweet tooth! They enjoy fruits, berries, sweet cakes, and even pastry dough.
  • Sadly, Robins were once hunted for their meat. However, they are now protected by the U.S. due to the Migratory Bird Act.

Killdeer, Did You Know?

  • Killdeer are skilled actors, pretending to have a broken-wing to protect their nests from predators.
  • Killdeer have the potential to be seen frequently in your Celebrate Urban Birds project due to their willingness to live close to people. Killdeer often nest close to people, commonly using gravel rooftops or even parking lots for nesting sites.

Mallard, Did You Know?

  • A group of Mallards in flight are called a “flock”, however, if they are on the ground they are called a “sord”.
  • Almost all domestic ducks are descendants of the Mallard
  • Foxes are one of Mallard’s main predators, so when captured they often freeze or pretend to be dead. They do this in hopes that the fox will loosen its grip, allowing the Mallard to escape.

Peregrine Falcon, Did You Know?

  • “Peregrine” is Latin for wanderer or traveler. This being very fitting for this falcon due to them having one of the longest migrations of any North American bird. And when I say long, I mean more than halfway around the world long. Some Peregrine Falcons travel 15,500 miles in a year.
  • In addition to their record long migrations, they also are the fastest bird in the world. Diving up to 200 miles per hour for prey.
  • Not too long ago, Peregrine Falcons were nearly exterminated due to a pesticide poisoning. However, restoration efforts have restored the population.

American Crow, Did You Know?

  • American Crows have to wait for another creature to tear open road kill due to the weakness of their beaks.
  • Similar to us, young crows may stay with their parents for years, helping their parents raise new young and protecting their territory. They will stick around until finding a home of their own.
  • American Crows are very sneaky, sometimes stealing food from other animals. They will follow other adult birds to find where their nests are hidden. They will even steal from your dog’s outdoor food dish.

American Goldfinch, Did You Know?

  • The American Goldfinch sheds it’s old feathers twice a year. They are the only finches in their family with this ability.
  • Like potato chips? Well listen for the rhythm of “po-ta-to-chip” and you will know that the flight call is coming from an American Goldfinch!
  • Although they may say potato chip, that is not what they are hungry for. American Goldfinch are herbivores, more precisely, granivores. This meaning that they mainly eat seeds of plants for all their meals.

Blue Jay, Did You Know?

  • Blue Jays have a tendency to mimic the calls of hawks. This ability gives them the chance to give a warning or to trick other species.
  • Blue Jays are monogamous, meaning that a pair will usually stay together for life.
  • Aggressive and territorial, do not mess with a Blue Jay. Blue Jay’s often form groups to attack intruders or predators. Even scaring off other birds from bird feeders.

Downy Woodpecker, Did You Know?

  • Although it seems that all they do is peck holes, the Downy Woodpecker takes about 2 weeks to make a hole in a tree for a nest.
  • The Downy Woodpecker is prepared however with stiff feathers that prevent the wood dust from entering their nostrils.
  • Due to the fast motion of pecking they endure, the Downy Woodpecker has a pad of spongy elastic between their bill and their skull to protect it’s brain from shock.

Eurasian Collared-Dove, Did You Know?

  • The Eurasian Collared-Dove is actually apart of Greek mythology. Decaocto was an underpaid and overworked servant girl who prayed to the gods. She prayed for them to help her escape the misery her life gave her, the gods answered by changing her into a dove. The dove’s call still echoes the distressed cries of her former life.

Northern Cardinal, Did You Know?

  • If you see or hear the female cardinal singing from the nest, then she is most likely telling the male she needs more food.
  • Remember those commercials that would have birds flying into a clean window? Or experience it yourself? Well, the Northern Cardinal will often experience this during the spring because it is attacking it’s reflection. Why? Because he is willing to defend his breeding area from other males.