Backyard and Community Projects are a great way to get involved and make a difference on the local level.
Here are some ideas for projects.
BECOME A CITIZEN SCIENTIST
How do you become a citizen scientist? First of all, it is really easy. And second, you can be any age. But wait, what exactly is a citizen scientist? Well, anyone who helps scientists collect and sometimes analyze data.
The idea is to get regular citizen volunteering their time to gather information on things like number of birds in your backyard on a given day or taking a picture of a bug you happen to see. With thousands of people doing the same thing, a great deal of data can be collected quickly.
Some of Our Favorites:
- Record sightings of jellyfish at https://www.jellywatch.org/
- Collect data on bird’s nests and the babies https://nestwatch.org/
- Survey frog and toad populations in your neighborhood https://frogwatch.fieldscope.org/v3
- Observe plant life cycles in your local area with Project BudBurst http://budburst.org/
- Count elephants in the African forest (from the comfort of your home) with Elephant Expedition at https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/anabellecardoso/elephant-expedition
So what are you waiting for to sign up? And if you don’t like any of the ones we have listed, there are hundreds more. Just google an animal or plant in which you are interested along with the words “citizen scientist” and we bet you will find something you like.
Easy Action Steps You Can Take:
- Check out Citizen Science Projects at National Geographic
- Sign up for iINaturalist so every time you take a photo of a plant or animal, you can share it with scientists
- Discover all sorts of projects in which to participate at Zooiverse. They have projects involving Northern Cardinals, mountain zebras and even Skink spotting!
PROVIDE WILDLIFE SHELTER
So you have planted a great wildlife garden (see our blog on Create Wildlife Habitat With Native Plants).
Now what can you do to help wildlife? Provide them with shelter since all animals need a place to call home. And it is easy!
Here are a couple simple things everyone can do in your backyard. Drag all your dead wood, tree limbs and brush to one side of your property and leave it in a big pile. You will be surprised at how many birds, lizards, and small mammals will use it to hide, nest or just chill out. We call our brush piles natural hedgerows. My sister calls them ramparts. Hmm. All a matter of perspective.
Leave your spent plant stalks in the fall and don’t clean up your garden until late March. Yes, in the spring! Bees will overwinter in hollow grass stems, ladybugs will nestle in at the base of a plants and birds will eat the left over seeds and berries.
The same goes for your leaves. Don’t rake or blow them but leave in place as natural mulch for your plants. Plus they provide shelter for all sorts of caterpillars, native bees, salamanders and other insects.
And think about installing a bird or bat house. We have a bat house (with no bats yet we are sorry to say), 2 wren houses and 2 bluebird houses. It is thrilling to watch your first baby blue birds fledging from the nest. To find the right bat house we recommend BatBnB at https://www.batbnb.com/. To learn more about bird houses and which species use houses here is a good article https://www.thespruce.com/birds-that-use-bird-houses-386624.