Skilled volunteers make it possible for Point Blue to learn about the habitat needs of shorebirds, grow plants for our climate-smart habitat restorations, and put on events that engage partners and supporters of our conservation work.
Our volunteer positions require some skill or experience, but most provide additional training in skills needed to perform the citizen scientist or volunteer role. Explore options we offer below for volunteer and citizen science involvement in our work.
If you possess a skill or have an interest that you think could contribute to the work we do outside of what we've listed, feel free to contact us and let us know what you have in mind.
Soundscapes to Landscapes
Join us in monitoring bird diversity across Sonoma County with automated sound recorders! Soundscapes to Landscapes (we call it “S2L” for short) is a NASA-funded research project seeking to improve scientific understanding, advance biodiversity monitoring from space, and inform management and conservation of regional landscapes. This citizen science project relies on support from local volunteers and landowners. You can participate in one, two, or all three ways.
Be part of a team of volunteers (or bring your own team!) and hike to predetermined sites on public and private land to deploy sound recorders and retrieve them after a few days. Good health and a positive disposition are the only minimum requirements! Ability to navigate with map and GPS are a plus.
Deploy a Sound Recorder on Your Property
Do it on your own terms! If you own land in Sonoma County, we will mail you a package with equipment and instructions to deploy sound recorders on your property. Urban areas are included and welcomed!
Tag Bird Calls on Your Computer
For those with some expertise in recognizing local bird calls, here’s an opportunity to put your skills to work at your own leisure! Use our web-based platform to listen to 1-minute recordings and tag calls you recognize.
Whale Alert-West Coast
Join other nature lovers, fishers, and mariners to help reduce ship strikes to whales using your smartphone! Download the app on the Whale Alert- West Coast webpage. (photo: Sophie Webb)
Among the many threats faced by whales today are ship strikes, which occur more and more in busy shipping lanes. A collaboration of government agencies, academic institutions, non-profit conservation groups and private sector companies have developed Whale Alert, an app that helps reduce the chance of fatal ship strikes by large vessels.
The app can be used by anyone out on the water to report presence of cetaceans. It displays active whale management areas, required reporting areas, recommended routes, areas to be avoided and near real-time warnings in shipping lanes along the east and west coasts of the United States and Canada. This information allows vessel operators to avoid collision with whales by slowing down and heightening their visual awareness.
Migratory Shorebird Project
Be part of Connecting Communities Across the Americas and team up with us and the PFSS (above) or one of our international conservation partners to count shorebirds or help with outreach.
Be part of the climate-smart solution to habitat loss and environmental degradation by helping our Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed (STRAW) Program tend plants in San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge nursery, water and weed at one of many STRAW restoration sites, or help out on a restoration day.
Help Plovers at The Annual Stomp
Point Blue Avian Ecologist, Carleton Eyster and Elkhorn Slough Foundation Reserve Docent Coordinators coordinate the Annual Snowy Plover Mud Stomp, a public event to raise awareness of and create habitat for these threatened birds. Participants stomp shallow divots in mudflats to provide nesting sites for the Western Snowy Plover which lays eggs in shallow depressions in the ground or in beach sands above the wrack line. The footprints also provide disruptive ground cover that can help plover chicks, which are flightless for their first month, to avoid predators. This event is now part of Point Blue’s Monthly Bird & Conservation Walk schedule in April.
Video of the 2015 Stomp (courtesy of attendee Jaqueline Deely)
Event & Database Help
The Point Blue Advancement Team has need for volunteers at our Petaluma headquarters to assist with database management and event planning. If you have time to spare, are experienced in data entry or event planning, and like connecting with people, this option may be for you.
Point Blue Lab
At our headquarters in Petaluma, California, we have an amazing wet lab stocked with microscopes, beakers, Petri dishes, and even a ventilation hood. We don’t usually wear lab coats though… sorry to shatter the stereotype. If you like treasure hunts and tiny details, you might want to consider volunteering in our lab. We do really cool things like dissecting seabird pellets (which consist of regurgitated indigestible material), in search of magical fish ear bones called otoliths. Well, they are not actually magical, but they tell us a lot of information about what seabirds are eating and what is going on in the marine food web!
Grow Shared Knowledge
There are several ways that you can contribute to the vast data sets scientists need to address big issues like climate change. Add your observations of the natural world to help conserve our ecosystems:
A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.
From hikers to hunters, birders to beachcombers, the world is filled with naturalists, and many of us record what we find. What if all those observations could be shared online? You might discover someone who finds beautiful wildflowers at your favorite birding spot, or learn about the birds you see on the way to work. If enough people recorded their observations, it would be like a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers could use to monitor changes in biodiversity, and that
anyone could use to learn more about nature. That’s the vision behind iNaturalist.org. So if you like recording your findings from the outdoors, or if you just like learning about life, join iNaturalist!
Report a Bird Band
Visit USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Lab web page to report a bird with a federal band or color marker. This helps us track movement and survival of bird populations, learn about the health of the environment, and give recommendations for conservation management.
Report a Bird Band
Sign up for Point Blue News
Stay up-to-date on our science, get our quarterly newsletters directly to your inbox, and don't miss an opportunity to support critical conservation.