WildResearch’s innovative programs are each designed to achieve three goals:
- To contribute to conservation science
- To provide our members with training and education in conservation science
- To conduct conservation outreach
With these goals in mind, we currently operate three core programs.
- The Iona Island Bird Observatory (IIBO) monitors populations of wintering and migratory birds in an ecologically important park in Richmond, British Columbia. Our winter monitoring program is unique in western Canada and aims to estimate survivorship of over-wintering songbirds. Our spring and fall migration monitoring programs contribute to migration monitoring along the Pacific Flyway, and we also partner with local academic institutions to conduct additional ornithological research. At IIBO, we provide volunteers with hard-to-obtain skills in safe bird capture, handling, and measurement, and many of our volunteers go on to use their skills to conduct their own conservation science research. In addition, hundreds of elementary school, highschool, and university students visit IIBO every year to learn about bird conservation and study.
- The British Columbia Marsh Monitoring Program (BCMMP) launched in 2021 in collaboration with Birds Canada. This program monitors amphibian and birds species breeding in wetlands across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Volunteers are taught to identify species based on vocalizations, gain experience conducting call-playback surveys, and contribute valuable data on the abundance and distributions of wetland species. We are currently working to expand this program to other parts of the province.
- The Western Sandpiper Program launched in 2020 in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada and uses nanotags to gain a better understanding of the movement ecology of Western Sandpipers. These tags allow scientists to track individual birds as they migrate between Alaska and the coasts of North and South America, particularly how they spend their time at important stopover sites in the Fraser River estuary. Experienced banding volunteers can assist with shorebird banding, and volunteers can participate in shorebird surveys.
- The goal of our Urban Raptor Monitoring program is to gain data on the relative abundance of Cooper’s hawks in the Vancouver/Burnaby area. Participants gain knowledge of raptor ecology and how to conduct proper raptor surveys.
WildResearch also founded the Canadian Nightjar Survey in 2010. A decade on it has found a new home at Birds Canada. The survey collects data on a group of birds of conservation concern. Nightjars are understudied due to their nocturnal habits, and several species are listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Under the WildResearch Nightjar Survey, citizen scientists across western Canada conduct nocturnal road-side surveys for Common Nighthawks, Common Poorwills, and Eastern Whip-poor-wills. Data collected by the Nightjar Survey provides a baseline for population monitoring and is used for research on habitat associations and nightjar study methods. By participating, citizen scientists learn how to identify nightjars and conduct bird surveys.
In addition to our programs, we run regular conservation science training and outreach events. Examples include workshops in winter bird identification, resume writing for conservation biologists, bird photography and fish identification.