Citizen Science

Reddish Egret

The study of birds, their movements, and habitats is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, and their observations contribute to the scientific literature. Members of Sarasota Audubon participates in citizen science projects in several ways:


Each year, between December 14 and January 5, birdwatchers, ornithologists and scientists conduct the annual Christmas Bird Count. Sponsored by National Audubon, more than 2,000 circles are counted in the U.S., Canada, and in some countries in Latin and South America.

Each circle is 15 miles in diameter and the count is usually conducted by several teams. Here in Sarasota County, there are three circles: Sarasota; Myakka River State Park and Venice. Manatee County has two circles: one near the Gulf and the other inland. The circles are set and have been in place for many years. The count is for a 24-hour period.

Sarasota Audubon’s count in Sarasota, with its epicenter at Beneva and Bee Ridge Roads, typically has 15 teams in the field, averaging 5 or 6 counters per team. In addition, volunteers call in their counts from backyards. National Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count effort is now in its 120th year. The ability to look at trends of bird populations over the entire period is invaluable in helping to track declining or increasing species. Wildlife managers use this data in a multitude of ways.

To participate, email coordinator Aaron Virgin at or call 941-773-0185.  We need drivers, spotters, photographers, and recorders. You don’t have to be an advanced birder to participate. Any level is welcome.


Audubon members throughout the country participate in many surveys that help in conservation efforts. Sarasota Audubon members help in many ways: Breeding Bird Surveys; migratory bird surveys; beach nesting bird protection; International Plover Surveys.

In addition, members have helped ornithology students from Cornell, LSU and Tulane as they study millions of wintering Tree Swallows—right here in Sarasota County. To participate contact Kylie Wilson at