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An example of the ebird.org interface for entering your birdwatching data.
An example of the ebird.org interface for entering your birdwatching data.

My previous posts have highlighted some of the problems faced by the birds of the Salton Sea. While their struggles are many, and their future seems dim without a coordinated restoration plan, there are ways for the average citizen to help.

The first way is to contact your representatives and let them know that you care about this issue! The dangers to the avian community are symptoms of the larger problems that the Sea is facing. These can only be addressed from political action, which will only happen if the representatives know that their constituency cares.

Secondly, you can donate to or join the National Audubon Society . Joining the National Audubon Society is beneficial in two ways. Firstly, the Audubon Society uses 83% of the membership money and donations to protect key bird habitats by funding conservation programs.[i] Therefore, just by simply paying a $20.00 membership fee, you are already helping to protect birds at the Salton Sea and throughout the USA. The second way in which becoming an Audubon society member is beneficial is that you can join your nearest local chapter to get involved on a more personal level. The nearest local chapters to the Salton Sea are the San Bernardino Valley Audubon in San Bernardino, CA and the San Diego Audubon Society in San Diego, CA.[ii] Becoming a member of a local chapter will allow you to learn how to birdwatch through regularly scheduled trips. What better way to become passionate about protecting birds than to witness their beauty firsthand?  Therefore, by joining the National Audubon Society, your money will go towards conservation efforts and you can develop a lifelong passion as well.

One of the many birdwatching guidebooks for the Salton Sea. Source: http://amzn.com/B005LF3KV0
One of the many birdwatching guidebooks for the Salton Sea. Source: http://amzn.com/B005LF3KV0

The third thing a citizen can do to help the birds of the Salton Sea is to collect information as a bird-watcher; in other words, to become a citizen scientist. Right about now you might be skeptical about how birdwatching can help save the birds of the Salton Sea. The answer is that in order to protect birds, data is needed about where different species of birds are located and the size of their populations. This data is then used to prioritize restoration efforts in areas with species that are endangered or threatened. Numerous citizen science programs exist to facilitate this data collection. The longest running program is the Christmas Bird Count organized by the National Audubon Society. Other great resources include the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology citizen science blog and ebird.org. These programs are all free with user friendly websites, so if you do not wish to join the National Audubon Society, but love the outdoors and birdwatching, these programs are a great way to contribute to bird conservation. Therefore, if you want to help the birds of the Salton Sea and raise interest in their plight then join the Audubon Society, grab your binoculars and bird guides, go birding, and enter your data!

Written by: Jaben Richards

[i] http://www.audubon.org/reports-financials

[ii] http://www.audubon.org/audubon-near-you?state=CA