Volunteers Needed: WildResearch Alberta Nightjar Survey

Nightjars are some of the most understudied species in Canada, and there is concern that their populations are in decline. There are two species of Nightjars found in Alberta: Common Nighthawks which are listed as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act; and Common Poorwills which are classified as a Data Deficient species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species (COSEWIC).

An adult Common Nighthawk. Photograph by Dwayne Gaschermann, used with permission.

An adult Common Nighthawk. Photograph by Dwayne Gaschermann, used with permission.

The WildResearch Nightjar Survey is a citizen science program that collects data for this family of birds. Before this year, the surveys were conducted only in British Columbia, but this year the program has expanded to five new provinces and territories, one of which is Alberta. WildResearch is looking for volunteers to survey for Common Nighthawks and Common Poorwills in the province this summer. Because of the nightjars’ nocturnal habits, little is known about them in Canada, and there is concern that the population numbers are dwindling.

Anyone with a vehicle and good hearing is capable of conducting a WildResearch Nightjar Survey! Signing up for a WildResearch Nightjar Survey route will require approximately two to three hours of surveying and one hour of data entry. Each route is a series of 12 road-side stops and needs to be surveyed at dusk once per year between June 15 and July 15. Routes are located along existing Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), and we would love to have help from existing BBS volunteers! Surveys will follow a new standardized national nightjar survey protocol. Data will be made publicly available on Bird Studies Canada’s NatureCounts portal.

As noted above, a survey route will require two to three hours of surveying and one hour of data entry. Each route needs to be surveyed once between June 15th, 2016, and July 15th, 2016. In Alberta, the routes use the existing Breeding Bird Survey framework, and surveys will follow a new national standardized nightjar survey protocol.

You can check out the available routes in your area, sign up for a survey route, and learn more about this program at the WildResearch website. If you have any further questions, please email Elly Knight at nightjars.ab@wildresearch.ca for more information.

Help WildResearch by volunteering a bit of extra time this summer to learn more about this cryptic species!

2016 Nightjar Survey poster - letter - AB

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