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  • Annual Meeting and Program: Mountain Birdwatch and the future of citizen science

Annual Meeting and Program: Mountain Birdwatch and the future of citizen science

  • 15 Apr 2019
  • 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
  • Century House, Latham

HMBC members should receive an invitation by email in early March. Be sure to check your spam folder if it doesn't show up. Program is open to the public.


Program description:

Mountain Birdwatch is an initiative to engage wildlife enthusiasts, and to harness the power of the public to conduct wildlife monitoring for high-elevation birds of the spruce-fir forests of eastern New York and northern New England. Each year, close to 200 citizen scientists trek up mountains to rise before dawn and perform repeated avian surveys from hiking trails for 11 montane species such as Bicknell’s Thrush, Blackpoll Warbler, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher—species that are rarely detected from traditional roadside counts at lower elevations. Analyzed annually using cutting-edge statistical models, Mountain Birdwatch provides the only region-wide source of population information on these vulnerable high-elevation breeding birds. Jason will first highlight some of the ways that Mountain Birdwatch data have been used for conservation and management, such as creating a population estimate for Bicknell’s Thrush. Jason will also discuss how citizen science is changing from a “free labor” approach to one of collaboration with the volunteers who collect the data.

Jason Hill Bio:

As a kid from Iowa, Jason grew up enamored with how the natural world managed to exist in a heavily modified agricultural landscape. His biocentric wonder led him to New England, where he is a quantitative ecologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies helping to oversee the citizen science project, Mountain Birdwatch, and research into montane ecology. A quantitative ecologist and ornithologist by training, Jason joined the Vermont Center for Ecostudies in January 2015. A lifelong birder and naturalist, Jason followed graduation from the University of Montana (BS, Wildlife Biology) with a series of wildlife-based adventures that found him monitoring sea otters in California, tracking endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers in Florida, and researching House Wrens at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. On Maui, his crew was tasked with capturing the three remaining Po’ouli: a Hawaiian honeycreeper that is now thought to be extinct.

Jason investigated the post-fledgling ecology of Saltmarsh Sparrows at the University of Connecticut (MS, Ecology), and completed his PhD with the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State University, studying the population ecology of grassland sparrows following experimental landscape manipulation.

Here at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Jason wears many hats. He primarily investigates avian ecology within the montane spruce-fir community, but he also coordinates the Suds & Science discussion series and cranks out R code on demand for his colleagues. In his free time, Jason serves as an eBird coordinator for Central Pennsylvania and enjoys paddling and observing nature (follow along with my adventures on iNaturalist.org; see my recent observations below). You can often find him ascending rock walls or hitting the trails with his son, Heron, and permanent belay partner, Katie. And he is still a kid, at heart.






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