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Get Involved

Activist opportunities and citizen science projects.

Audubon activists at rally  - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
Audubon activists attend a rally about protecting public forests - Tinsley Hunsdorfer

Jump to: Volunteer Activists | Citizen Science | Our Conservation History

Volunteer Activists

Audubon Activists: Receive action alerts about ways to advocate for wildlife and habitat across the state. Sign up!

Friends and Advocates of Urban Natural Areas (FAUNA): FAUNA is an informal group of individuals and local grassroots organizations dedicated to protecting and restoring urban watersheds for fish, wildlife and people, and more fully integrating built and natural environment in the Portland Metropolitan Region. Join FAUNA by completing our online form and you will receive regular updates and action alerts related to protecting and enhancing urban greenspaces and watersheds in our urban and urbanizing communities.


Citizen Science

Portland Audubon has long been a pioneer in getting citizens involved in wildlife research. Our projects focus on the intersection of our urban environment with the ecology, biology, and natural history of birds and other wildlife in the Portland metro area.

These efforts play an invaluable role in helping us track, understand and manage our local wildlife populations, as well as help influence public policy. Participation in these projects is a great way to have fun, learn about the natural world, and make a difference for wildlife. Oregon hosts 486 species of birds - making it the fifth richest in avian diversity in the nation - 209 of which spend part or all of their lives in the Portland area! You don’t need a PhD.  All you need is a desire to learn, a love of birds and the patience to observe the natural world.

For more information about the citizen science projects listed below, contact Joe Liebezeit at jliebezeit@audubonportland.org.

Great Blue Heron Monitoring – Spring/Summer
The Great Blue Heron is an iconic species in the Northwest and is Portland's official city bird. We celebrate herons' gracious presence every spring during Great Blue Heron Week. Portland Audubon has been monitoring Great Blue Heron rookeries (nesting colonies) in the Portland metro area since 2009. Great Blue Herons are an ideal species to monitor to gauge overall ecosystem health, as they are sensitive to contaminants in the environment and to other disturbances. The main objectives of this project are to assess long-term occupancy trends of rookeries in the Portland metro area and to monitor nest survivorship (ability to produce young). Surveys are conducted from late February to July and we typically conduct surveys twice a month. View our field sampling protocol.

Mount Tabor - Winter, Spring, Fall through 2016
Portland Audubon is monitoring the bird community on Mt. Tabor in conjunction with a multi-year habitat restoration project that is underway at the site. The City of Portland is removing invasive species and planting native species in an effort to re-establish a native forest environment and to improve watershed health. Bird response to such activities can help us assess the success of these restoration efforts. Audubon conducts winter area-search surveys and standardized point counts during both spring and fall migration. View the latest report on this project.

Willamette Oak Bird Surveys – Spring 2014-2016
Portland Audubon is working with the City of Portland to document bird use in the most intact oak habitats along the Willamette River. This effort will inform eventual restoration activities to meet the particular needs of oak-associated wildlife. To complete this work, we are conducting standardized point counts during the spring migration and breeding season period at five oak habitat sites along the Willamette River. View a study site map and field sampling protocol.

Swift Watch Counts - Fall

Since 2009, the Audubon Society of Portland has been counting Vaux's Swifts at Chapman Elementary School and at a number of other sites in the Portland-metro region. These counts contribute toward a larger Pacific Coast-wide effort to keep track of the swift population. Learn more about Swift Watch | Read a report of Swift Watch count results from 2009-2013.

Ecoroof Monitoring - Through Fall 2014
Portland Audubon is working with the City of Portland to evaluate migratory bird use of ecoroof habitat. Bird surveys are conducted three times per season during the spring and fall bird migration. Three study areas are monitored; each study area contains an ecoroof, a nearby traditional roof, and a nearby ground-level greenspace. Each survey outing consists of simultaneously monitoring each of the three sites for two hours. These surveys require a solid Pacific Northwest bird identification skillset. This study was initiated in 2012 and will continue through the fall 2014. Preliminary results indicate bird usage of ecoroofs is much higher than on traditional roofs and is similar to that of ground-level greenspaces. View the spring 2013 report.

Marbled Murrelet Training and Survey - July
This annual event in Yachats, Ore., starts with an evening program about Marbled Murrelet biology and conservation, followed by a predawn on-the-ground survey the next morning! This is a unique opportunity to learn from top Murrelet researchers in the state, to witness Murrelets in flight during nest exchange, and to see Murrelets foraging in nearshore waters. Generally takes place in July. Learn more.

Seabird Colony Monitoring – Spring/Summer
In 2014, Portland Audubon is initiating a citizen science effort to monitor seabird nesting colonies adjacent to the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve/Protected Area to track the nesting success of seabirds that depend on small fish for feeding their growing chicks. This effort will increase awareness of Oregon’s recently designated marine reserves with local residents as well as summer visitors. We are partnering with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others on this project, and we will monitor a number of seabird species including Pelagic and Brandt’s Cormorants. Monitoring tasks include regular visits to seabird colonies, using a scope to observe nesting activity, and ultimately estimating the percentage of nests that successfully hatch young. View a complete project description.

Christmas Bird Count
The Christmas Bird Count is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society.  It’s an early-winter bird census in which volunteers follow routes through designated 15-mile diameter circles, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all individual birds are counted, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. The data collected by observers over the past century allows researchers and conservation biologists to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. Learn more about the Portland Christmas Bird Count. Learn more about the Portland Christmas Bird Count.

Great Backyard Bird Count
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual, four-day event in February that asks bird watchers nationwide to count birds. Anyone can participate, from beginners to experts. You can count for as little as 15 minutes for just a single day, or you can count for as long as you like for all four days. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s easy. Participants count birds anywhere they wish during the four day period. Then, they record the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. To report a count, just fill out the online checklist at the GBBC website or mail in the paper version.


Our Conservation History

For over a century, Audubon Society of Portland has been a leading voice promoting conservation of wildlife and the habitats on which they depend for future generations. Our early work led to passage of some of the first bird protection laws in the nation and the establishment of the first National Wildlife Refuges in the West at Malheur, Klamath and Three Arch Rocks.

More recent successes included successful efforts to list the Northern Spotted Owl and Marbled Murrelet under the Endangered Species Act, leading local efforts to recover the American Peregrine Falcon and pioneering efforts to protect wildlife habitat and access to nature on urban landscapes.

Today we face profound environmental challenges. Our native wildlife populations are threatened by a myriad of threats including urbanization, invasive species, man-made hazards, habitat loss, climate change, and attempts to rollback existing wildlife laws. Reversal of these trends will require action at multiple scales beginning in our own backyards and extending out across the landscape.

The strength of Audubon Society of Portland has always been its active local membership, today more than 10,000 strong. Together we have and can continue to make difference. Audubon provides multiple ways to become involved in conservation ranging from programs to help you to protect and restore wildlife habitat in your backyard and community to programs to protect the more critical wildlife areas in the state and promote critical local, state and federal policies to protect wildlife.

Please join us in building a region where people and wildlife can flourish together.

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