Citizen Science
What is Citizen Science?



Citizen Science engages volunteers in the collection of ecological information. The NJ Audubon Citizen Science Program aims to develop information datasets through citizen participation, on the abundance distribution, and demography of avian species.

We use the information collected through the contributions of Citizen Scientists to provide the basis for managing bird populations at multiple spatial and temporal scales, to improve our knowledge of the ecology of New Jersey, and to promote habitat preservation. Using the citizen science approach enables us to obtain the information we need, while also immersing our citizen scientists into the scientific process.


  • foster environmental awareness among New Jersey's citizens through active participation
  • protect New Jersey's birds and other animals, especially endangered and threatened species through collection of data on bird distributions and abundance, population trends, migration patterns
  • promote habitat preservation by improving our knowledge of the ecology of New Jersey through the contributions of Citizen Scientists.

Current Projects

Raritan-Piedmont Survey 2015 


New Jersey Audubon is recruiting volunteer Citizen Scientists for a project that involves bird and/or invasive plant surveys.  This bird and invasive plant survey in forested habitats within the Piedmont section of the Raritan River watershed (parts of Hunterdon, Somerset, and Middlesex Counties) is a joint project between Raritan Valley Community College and NJ Audubon, funded through NSF’s SENCER-ISE (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities-Informal Science Education) program, to study the effects of invasive plants and deer browsing on our forests birds and native flora.We are looking for people with some bird ID skills to conduct bird point counts, and for people to survey invasive plants species.  Volunteers can participate in either the bird or the invasive plant survey, or both.  We prefer people who can do both surveys concurrently, but if you prefer to do one or the other, you are still welcome to join us!

Citizen Scientists are required to attend one training session in April.  Training sessions are scheduled for April 4 (1-4 pm)  and April 25 (10-2pm) at Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary.  We will run a combined bird and invasive plant workshop that will include a species identification component and methodology training.  During the workshop participants will be assigned to a survey site.  Bird survey citizen scientists are asked to visit their survey site three times – once to scout their assigned points and determine access, and twice for surveys (once between May 26- June 15 and again between June 16-30).  Invasive plant survey citizen scientists are asked to visit their site twice between May 26 and June 30 to conduct surveys. 

If you would like to participate or receive more information, please contact: Laura Stern at citizen.science@njaudubon.org or Mike Allen at michael.allen@njaudubon.org 

Black Rail Survey 2015  


Populations of the Eastern Black Rail have experienced significant rangewide declines, yet little is known about this secretive marsh bird.  In response to growing national and regional interest in this species, New Jersey Audubon and the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program are initiating a statewide survey to document the current range of Black Rail in New Jersey, to assess population changes since the last survey was conducted in the 1980s, and to contribute to the development of a rangewide status assessment and management plan. 

New Jersey Audubon is currently recruiting citizen science volunteers to conduct Black Rail surveys in northern and southern New Jersey.  Participants must have prior experience in bird identification and be willing to commit one weekend day in late-March or April for training and 3-5 evenings between early May and July for nocturnal surveys.  Surveyors will employ standardized 10-minute playback surveys at each assigned point, conducted between 30 minutes after sunrise and 1 hour before sunrise.  NJA staff will provide training to volunteers in survey methodology and species identification, prior to the start of the field season.

If you would like to participate or receive more information, please Kristin Mylecraine (kristin.mylecraine@njaudubon.org) for sites in northern New Jersey; or Mike Crewe (mike.crewe@njaudubon.org) for sites in southern New Jersey.  



Harbor Heron Survey 2015 

 We continue the Harbor Heron project to determine the importance of different foraging areas in the NY/NJ Harbor for herons and egrets and the links between foraging habitats and breeding colonies.

If you would like to participate or receive more information, please contact: Laura Stern at citizen.science@njaudubon.org or Nellie Tsipoura at nellie.tsipoura@njaudubon.org 


Past Projects

Arthur Kill Watershed Survey 2014

New Jersey Audubon is recruiting Citizen Scientists for a survey of birds and invasive plants in natural areas in the Arthur Kill watershed (parts of Essex, Union, and Middlesex Counties). This project is a NJ Audubon effort, funded through National Audubon’s and Toyota’s TogetherGreen program. Through this effort we want to obtain baseline information on abundance and distribution of bird and invasive plant species in important greenways remaining in this heavily industrialized and urbanized watershed. Areas of interest include South Mountain, Ash Brook Reservation, and the main tributaries to the Arthur Kill (the Elizabeth, Rahway, and Woodbridge Rivers), among others.  Results of this study will be used to guide conservation efforts in the area.

Raritan River Project - Spring 2012

Connecting People to Urban Wetlands: Preserving Biodiversity in the Raritan River Watershed

Funded by Together Green.


Grassland Bird Surveys - 2005 - 2013

To determine the abundance and distribution of grasslands bird populations breeding in private lands enrolled in incentive programs in New Jersey and assess the effectiveness of these programs.


Shorebird Surveys

To assess status and changes in populations of shorebirds using the New Jersey coast during spring and fall migration, to better manage and conserve stopover areas.


Duke Bioblitz - 2011, 2014

A one-day treasure hunt to identify and record species of plants and animals found on the property.



Scott Elowitz Photography - Scott Elowitz's photos manage to capture the essence of the bird.  We frequently use his images in our citizen science trainings.