Category Archives: Eco-Activism

Eco-Activism For Everyone


 “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”  ~Betty Reese


“Citizen science – is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists. Formally, citizen science has been defined as “the systematic collection and analysis of data; development of technology; testing of natural phenomena; and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis” ~ Wikipedia


The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.  ~Nelson Henderson


 PlantWatch is a volunteer monitoring program designed to identify and record ecological changes in our environment. The program is run by Nature Canada and Environment Canada, and takes place in each Canadian province and territory. Participants are given a list of focus species for their geographical area, and a handbook containing basic training and asked to record data such as flowering times for the species. Volunteers can choose to focus on one or all species, and submit their findings through the website.



FrogWatch is one of the most popular citizen science programs currently running in Canada. Frogs are very vulnerable to changes in the environment. This makes them a good indicator of the health of marsh and wetland areas. Participants are given some basic training on identifying the species that are found in their geographical area and a rough estimate of the days of day and year when they can expect to hear frog calls. Equipped with data collection sheets, volunteers use their eyes and ears to locate and record when and where they hear frogs, and where possible to identify which species are present. Information is then entered through the website.



WormWatch is an important program designed to collect information on the species, volume and location of earthworms. Currently 25 different species have been identified in Canada. Being extremely sensitive to the environment and soil disturbance, earthworms are a very good indicator of soil health. Participants are provided with data sheets and asked to use national sampling protocols to collect information which is then entered through the website to become part of the database.



IceWatch is a program which makes use of citizen scientists who volunteer to record information on the freeze and thaw status of our lakes and rivers. IceWatch helps scientists to identify how the environmental changes are affecting different regions of Canada. Participants are asked to choose a body of water and an observation point which they will be able to use for subsequent visits and in future years. Volunteers are specifically looking for the spring date when all ice finally leaves their body of water, and the fall date when ice finally covers the surface and stays intact for the winter. The water may fully or partially freeze and thaw several times before finally remaining frozen, or thawing completely.



NestWatch is a North American nest-monitoring project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in collaboration with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and Bird Studies Canada, and funded by the National Science Foundation. Participants place nesting boxes, and/or survey for natural nests and monitor their progress. The goal is to observe bird breeding, species and nesting as indicators of the environment and bird populations.



How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.  ~Anne Frank



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Joining The Nestwatch Project


I spent my morning making nesting boxes for the NestWatch project.

NestWatch is a nest monitoring program developed by the Cornell lab of Ornithology. The goal is to monitor populations and reproduction of North American breeding birds. Cornell uses what they refer to as “citizen science” to get the public involved at a volunteer level and gather data. They have a variety of different “citizen science” based programs that run throughout the year, and are suitable for any skill or education level.

Participants in the NestWatch program may choose to monitor natural nests they find in any location, or they may place and monitor nesting boxes. They are encouraged to do both. The data collected is then entered through the website where it joins thousands of other entries from the past 40 years. In fact, this program was originally run offline, with participants filling out data cards, and the data was stored manually, but for this reason was not widely accessible.


Nestboxes are made from natural untreated wood, preferably pine, cedar or fir. There are a variety of building plans available through the website that are designed to attract different species. For the fist six, we decided to build boxes that would be suitable to chickadees and other similar size birds.

Once built, complete with one opening side for nest monitoring and appropriate ventilation and drainage holes, a handful of wood shavings is used to line the bottom of each box. The boxes are placed in areas where they can be checked 1-2 times per week. For each box there is a data sheet to record the findings, which are then entered on the website. A number is assigned to the box, which will help to organize data sheets and keep track of locations.


With six nest boxes built and hung, I am looking forward to checking them. My birdfeeders attract a good variety of birds to the yard, and I am hoping some of our visitors will move in and raise families.

If you are interested in getting involved, visit for further information, instructions and to sign up.



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