Birds, Careers and Conservation Workshop Summer 2018


Thanks to the support of Thomas Cade Funds, 23 participants were awarded scholarships to attend a two day intensive workshop, titled Birds, Careers and Conservation.  The program took place on August 7th and 8th, 2018 and was hosted by the Celebrate Urban Birds program at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The aim of this annual program is to bring youth from underserved communities that are not represented in the sciences to learn more about research here at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Outstanding youth from across the United States are selected to attend each year based on their interest in learning about careers in science and conservation with the goal of positively impacting their communities.  During the workshop participants (aged between 14-21 years of age) learn about Cornell, explore the values of participatory science, critical thinking, art, conservation, and paths to higher education.

During the two-day workshop staff from seven departments at the Cornell Lab shared their expertise and time. The students participated in activities such as bird banding, nature journaling, nature walks and specimen illustration.

Scientists at the lab spoke about their fields of research such as participatory approaches to conservation, bioacoustics  and citizen science projects.  They toured and actively used the Macaulay Library and learned about scientific illustration at the Museum of Vertebrates. The participants had many opportunities to have their questions answered and to interact with all equipment and resources available at the lab.

In addition to being immersed in the work being done here, the students and chaperones visited the Cornell campus and participated in sessions where they created action plans for their future.  Our goal was to help these young aspiring leaders to see themselves in the field of science and conservation.

2018 Birds, Careers and Conservation Youth Workshop from Celebrate Urban Birds on Vimeo.

It was clear that the students learned so much from the experience.

“Thank you so much for this wonderful experience. Your lab is truly amazing and it was an honor to be there.  Not only did our knowledge grow but so did our respect for birds.” – Participant

“Thank you so much for the the amazing opportunity.  It was such a pleasure to even be invited to Cornell.  We all had such a great time and learned so much!  I didn’t know birds could be so interesting.  Thanks again!” – Participant

“ has been such a fantastic opportunity to meet all of the incredible and smart individuals at the Lab….” – Participant

Celebrate Urban Birds workshops would not be possible without the help of staff from every department of the Cornell Lab and we are enormously thankful to all participants, chaperones, and presenters.

We are looking forward to our next Birds, Careers and Conservation Workshop in November 2018!

(Photo © MLF Photography)




List of Resources in Spanish!

Free Downloads of Resources in Spanish

Have you ever wondered where you could find educational material about birds and citizen science in Spanish?  Do you need materials that people of all ages and areas can easily understand? We have compiled a list of links to free resources with descriptions of what each link offers. We hope this is useful for you and your participants.

1) Celebrate Urban Birds

Celebrate Urban Birds is a citizen science project founded in 2007. Anyone from any country can participate in Celebrate Urban Birds. You can participate at any time of the year and you do not need to know about birds. The goal of this project is to integrate people of all ages and regions in bird citizen science and to create awareness about birds, habitat and conservation. We are actively creating materials from different countries and regions. All materials are available for free download. Below you will find our materials for the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Peruvian Amazon region.

a) United States and Canada:

i. A beautifully illustrated bird guide showing 16 focal bird species. Also included are magnificent illustrations some common Hummingbirds of North America. To view the guide, click here!

ii. A sheet describing the celebrate Urban Birds citizen science project. This includes a form you can use to enter your bird observations and a poster of the silhouettes of the 16 focal bird species. Click here!

iii. A list of the 16 species with beautiful pictures and space to note the number of times the bird was seen. Available in Spanish and English. Click here!

b) Mexico:

i. A bird guide with 16 focal bird species. The guide includes beautiful pictures of the birds, distribution maps, and interesting facts about their behavior and habitat. Click here!

ii. A sheet to record observations of the birds. This sheet also includes close-up photos of the birds with the silhouettes of the 16 focal species and a brief description of the Celebrate Urban Birds in Mexico project! Click here!

c) Peruvian Amazon Region:
(Photo © CUBS)

Download the materials used in the Celebrate Birds kit for the Peruvian Amazon Region (Currículo de Educación Ambiental para La Amazonia Peruana)! The kit includes tips on how to observe the 16 focal species in the Peruvian Amazon Region as well as a table to jot down your bird observations. There is also a helpful poster that contain silhouettes of the 16 focal species and tips on where to observe them. The Environmental Education Activity Guide for the Peruvian Amazon Region, contains interesting activities you can use if you’re from the region. If you are not located in the region, the Activity Guide is adaptable to different regions and educational interests. It also has information and activities about nesting as well as an entire section about citizen science so that you and your participants can begin your own project!

i. To download the bird observation table with tips on how to observe the 16 focal species, and the bird silhouettes poster, click here!

ii. To download the 16 focal species guide with information about the focal species of this project, map distributions, and cool facts about their behavior and ecology, click here!

(Photo © CUBS)
iii.  The Environmental Education Activity Guide for the Peruvian Amazon Region: This activity guide is for informal or formal educators who are passionate in motivating, teaching and inspiring their participants to get involved in environmental conservation. The activity guide is designed with simple lesson plans that contain fun activities about the focal bird species in the Peruvian Amazon region. Through the monthly lesson plans, we hope students become interested in conserving their local birds and participating in citizen science through bird observation. This activity guide pairs well with the Peru kit. To download this guide click here!

To know more about the nests of the 16 focal species click here!

2) Bird Sleuth International Educational Curricula and Supporting Materials for Educators 

BirdSleuth International and World of Birds Curricula

BirdSleuth International is an environmental education curriculum to expand the information children receive about science and the environment. This is accomplished through learning about birds. The curriculum includes 10 lessons with fun and educational activities for children. Both the curriculum and supporting materials can be downloaded. The summary of the curriculum World of Birds does not need any additional materials and is also available to download. To download any of the materials you first need to complete a quick form. Click here to go to the form which will redirect you to the materials once you finish.

3) Manuals

Guide to Birds in Mexico City and its Surroundings

If you find yourself in Mexico City or its surroundings and need an easy-to-carry guide of the most common birds in Mexico City, this is the guide for you! It is very easy to use, has beautiful images, essential information, and interesting facts about Mexican birds. This guide was sponsored by CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad or The National Commision for the Awareness and use of Biodiversity). You can download the free guide by clicking here.

4) How to use eBird in Chile Guide
(Photo © ROC)

Download this practical guide on how to use eBird in Chile created by the leaders of the Red Observadores de Aves de Chile (ROC). You will find detailed explanations of eBird, how to use, how to enter your bird observations, and so much more! Although this guide was written users of eBird Chile it is useful for any person who wishes to learn more about eBird. Just make sure to enter the portal that corresponds to your geographic location. Download the eBird in Chile guide here!

5) Bird in Mexico: List of Bird Species and their Common Names 2015

Explore the most recent list of Mexican bird species and their common names. You can download the full publication here.

6) Free Book Download: Hummingbirds in Mexico and North America 
(Photo © Colíbres de México y Norteamérica)

Download this amazing bilingual book about Hummingbirds in Mexico and North America written by María del Coro Arizmendí and Humberto Berlanga. This book is excellent for people who want to learn more about hummingbirds. The book discusses hummingbird anatomy, diet, reproduction, migration, ecological relevance, and so much more! This book was sponsored by CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad or National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity) and the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México or National Autonomous University of Mexico) in Mexico. Download this complete book for free by clicking here! It can be slow to fully appear online, so please be patient!

Sign up for the virtual panel discussing Visual Arts, Birds, and Conservation!

We invite you to sign up for our virtual panel discussing Visual Arts, Birds, and Conservation!

This virtual panel will have talented artists and passionate youth who are dedicated to conservation and improving the quality of life in their communities. They will share their experiences and perspectives on Thursday, June 28 at 7 pm United States Eastern time. We hope that the presentations will inspire and give helpful ideas on how to integrate visual arts and local artists in your conservation activities and communities.

The mural was designed by Victor I. Puga Narvaez and his group for the Bird Festival in Cancun, 2016 (Photo © Courtesy of Green Jay Mayan Birding Club)

These four panelists are:

Victor I. Puga Narvaez (upper left hand corner) is part of colectivo itinerante Inlakech. He is an amazing Mexican multidisciplinary artist known for his participatory artwork and his outreach in many different cities of Mexico. He also founded the Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de Cancún (The Association of Visual Arts in Cancun) and continues to create murals with his “Brocha Grande” (Big Brush) project. His murals highlight the different cultures, natural environments, and birds of Mexico.

Designed by Annamaria Savarino Drago for the Bird Festival in Cancun, 2016 (Photo © Courtesy of Green Jay Mayan Birding Club)

Annamaria Savarino Drago (upper right-hand corner) studies biology in Mexico. Her artistic work focuses on caricatures and bird illustrations that shine a light on the importance of bird conservation. In her spare time, she is also a muralist in different communities in Mexico

Designed by Josmar Esteban Marquéz to promote conservation in his projects (Photo © Courtesy from Josmar Esteban Marquéz)


Josmar Esteban Marquéz (bottom left hand corner) is a naturalist, bird watcher, and a bird illustrator. He has participated in many educational campaigns and workshops for the conservation of birds in Venezuela. His artistic focus is in promoting the conservation of birds through bird identification guides and murals.

Nayeli Gómez Zamorano (bottom right hand corner) has many projects with the Mexican organization, Ecopil Arte Crea Conciencia. Her picture is in the bottom right-hand corner. She loves projects that have to do with virtual art, technology, and social media!

To sign up for the virtual panel click here!

Spotlight: Dr. Neeti Bathala

(Photo © Courtesy of Neeti Bathala)
“Since all environments intersect, I can encourage ecosystems right in my backyard.”

Dr. Neeti Bathala is a professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. An ecologist by training, she has studied many aspects of the environment, including deforestation, biodiversity, and oceanography. We are especially grateful to her for integrating Citizen Science projects like Celebrate Urban Birds into her curriculum.

On a personal level, Dr. Bathala works to improve the environment around her every day. At home, she has planted gardens with native species that increase the potential for wildlife to flourish. “Birds are an integral part of the ecosystem,” she says, “and must be considered as we seek to protect the environment.” She is also involved in local organizations such as the Haddonfield Garden Club in South Jersey, Clean Air Council in Philadelphia, and other coastal preservation projects, all of which aim to make the general public more aware of science and conservation efforts.

For over a decade, Dr. Bathala has incorporated data collection for Celebrate Urban Birds into the coursework. In fact, graduated students fondly remember the project. Among Dr. Bathala’s memories of students participating in Citizen Science is running into a graduate who “always looks for the focal bird species as he remembers learning about them from the Celebrate Urban Birds project.” This aspect of the course remains popular; Dr. Bathala recounts that recently, a student told her “that he was upset that we had not done the Urban Bird Watch and he was anxious to get started. We were only in our second week of the semester!” Dr. Bathala maintains that it is especially important to make field-work accessible to all, so students of any academic background can participate.

“The focal species are ones that are familiar in the Philadelphia region. The students enjoy this opportunity immensely and look forward to getting outside and participating in actual data collection.”

Although Dr. Bathala has always found the natural world interesting, she was inspired by her high school biology teacher to look beyond the confines of the classroom or laboratory. “Getting out in nature” made science meaningful. Even as a child, she wanted to protect plants and animals, so when working on her graduate degrees, Dr. Bathala felt lucky to participate in a great deal of field-work. “The magic of bioluminescence and the ocean at night compelled me to continue to study ecosystems and to seek out field-based research opportunities,” she recalls of her time spent identifying marine species by night.

“I ended up wanting to become an academic so that I, too, could share the passion that I felt towards the environment with others.”

(Photo © Courtesy of Neeti Bathala)
This experience also moved her to write Moonlight Crab Count, a picture book that introduces readers to Citizen Science. The story of a young girl counting horseshoe crabs is meant to convey the message that participation in data acquisition is enjoyable and enchanting. Leena, the main character, assists her mother in collecting data and learns “about the horseshoe crab and its vital role in the medical field.” Young readers in particular are empowered by the message that “their contributions are important now, as well as into the future.” Getting youth involved is paramount to Dr. Bathala’s mission to present STEM-based fields to the general population.

“These projects allow members of the public to engage in the process of scientific investigation: asking questions, collecting data, and/or interpreting results. Citizen Science is important in allowing everyone to understand that their contributions are meaningful.”

Dr. Bathala continues to be motivated by the enthusiasm of her students, especially when they recognize their ability to make positive changes in the natural world through conservation. In fact, she will now also teach a new course specifically about Citizen Science. Students will spend the semester participating in multiple projects, including several from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

We’re inspired by Dr. Bathala’s mission to bring Citizen Science to her students and community.

Funky Nests in Funky Places 2018!

Get ready for the challenge you’ve known and loved since it began in 2009! Funky Nests in Funky Places started!

(Photo © Marina Dimitrov)
Birds nest in the craziest places–from tiny ledges on skyscrapers to the barbecue grill in your neighbor’s yard. Whether you find a robin’s nest on a statue or a hummingbird’s nest on wind chimes, your picture, video, poem, or artwork about a bird nest in a funky place can win big in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Funky Nests in Funky Places challenge. With nesting season underway, this contest is challenging everyone to get outside and observe nature even in the most unexpected places.

Entry deadline is June 30.

You don’t have to be a bird expert or an expert photographer. It’s a wonderful excuse to get outside!

Attention: Before participating take a few minutes to learn a little about how to observe nests without harming the birds, where to find nests, and common myths about nesting birds.

Important Guidelines to Observing Nests
How to Help Nesting Birds
Types of Nests and How to Find Them
Fun Facts about Nests
Myths and Frequently Asked Questions about Nests

All ages are welcome to participate as individuals or with a group, class, community center, or after-school program. We are accepting entries from anywhere in the world.

We have fantastic prizes: Celestron binoculars, bird feeders, bird guides, posters, Bird Academy online courses, and more.

Find more information the contest at In Spanish:

(Photo © Amy Plankenhorn)