Summer data collection is completed!

In August, we finished summer data collection for both the social and ecological (bird point count data around Champaign-Urbana) aspects of the project!

On the social side of things, Seunguk, Henry, and Julia set up mist-nets at the Anita Purves Nature Center in Urbana and captured local birds, which they then presented to local campers in collaboration with the Urbana Park District. The objective of the project was to assess the impact of this hands-on experience with birds on children’s natural value formation in a social learning context. Program participants consisted of 35 children (ages 6-11) enrolled in Nature Day Camp in June and 22 adolescents (ages 11-15) enrolled in Camp FRESH (Future Responsible Environmental Stewardship Heroes) in July. We ran weekly bird programs (two 1-hour sessions per week) where we used mist nets to capture local birds and offer children hands-on experiences with birds as well as various bird-related activities. Each participant took pre-test and post-test surveys at the beginning and end of their participation. We also collected observed participants’ behavior using behavioral mapping during each bird session. In September 2022, we will follow up with the participants to see if the bird program’s effects can retain 3 months after participation. Overall, the kids loved the birds and we had an absolute blast! See here for an amazing video of the outreach (video created by Nick Cagle):

Seunguk and Henry administering surveys to Camp FRESH participants in July 2022.

On the ecological side of things, Henry, Colin, and Zak finished up summer bird point count data collection! They sampled 93 points around Champaign-Urbana five times each, resulting in 465 total point counts! Overall, the team recorded 8,740 sightngs of 91 bird species! Henry is busy working on analyzing the data – stay tuned for updates!

Bird species (n = 91) detected during summer point counts in Champaign-Urbana, June-July 2022. Species are repreesented by their four-letter American Ornithological Society codes and ranked in order from most to least common.

First presentation from the project!

Congratulations to Jessica Vestal on a stellar poster presentation during the Undergraduate Student Research Symposium in April 2022! She worked closely with her graduate student mentor, Devin Goodson, and other members of the team to enter, analyze and interpret results from our winter focus groups. See the photo below of her in action!

Jessica Vestal presenting findings from her research

Congratulations to Seunguk Shin

Graduate student Seunguk Shin was awarded funding to extend this project with an oh so creative idea engage children in mist-netting activities as a way to learn about how hands-on activities with birds can shift values and connection to nature. This project will be implemented in summer 2022 with help from the Urbana Parks District. Funding for this research is being provided by the Champaign County Audubon Society and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science Summer Research Award.

Winter focus groups

Our winter focus groups were a smashing success! We met with three different groups of residents in the Champaign-Urbana area in February 2022 to learn about the reasons why people develop connections with local bird populations. We also discussed residents’ concerns about threats facing bird communities and the benefits derived from different bird traits. Thanks to everyone who participated in the local community, as well as the group of UIUC students who participated in our pilot testing in Fall 2021!

Data collection has commenced

We officially launched our winter bird surveys in January of 2022! Point count data are being collected to better understand the range of bird species occupying different spaces throughout Champaign-Urbana. Members of our team are recording observations by sight and sound across 90 points distributed across residential areas, public parks, and green spaces. Eventually, we will use this information to build an interactive database that will be shared with community members to explore bird diversity, provided as an education tool for engaging future generation in discussions about the natural world, and used as a benchmark to monitor future changes.

The Human-Bird Project has Left the Nest!

Welcome to our website! This space is being developed to provide an overview of our project, disseminate findings, and create a space to learn more about human-bird interactions in the Midwestern U.S.