Science for a Blue Planet

Featuring cutting-edge work, discoveries, and challenges of our scientists, our partners, and the larger conservation science community.

6 Ways to Help the Earth While You’re at Home

from Point Blue to You

Our hearts and thoughts go out to those that are fighting sickness, struggling to find housing and work, and managing differing levels of anxiety and depression as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are sending gratitude as well to all of the frontline and essential workers: nurses, doctors, first responders, janitors, grocery store staff, garbage collectors, and warehouse workers, among others.

We also wanted to offer some space to celebrate nature for Earth Day this month. Even though we are sheltering in place at home, nature is all around us — in our neighborhoods and our backyards and gardens — even our house plants! Nature can serve as a nurturing, stimulating, and grounding force at this time. We often don’t have to travel far or at all to find it since you can use both online and print sources to research nature. And never underestimate your own powers of observation and curiosity to further your knowledge!

We’re highlighting 6 ways to help the Earth using some of our own or partner resources while you are at home and in your neighborhood this April.

#1: Prepare to Share the Shores

If all goes well, we will still have some beach time later this summer. Prepare to be a responsible beachgoer with our digital Pocket Guide to Beach Birds of California. Learn ways that you can reduce disturbance and help threatened species and then share with friends and family! Learn fun facts about species and post them on social media tagging Point Blue (FB: @PointBlueConservationScience, TW: @PointBlueConSci, IG: @pointblue_conservationscience). Did you know that the Horned Lark can be found in vegetated dune areas of beaches in spring and fall? Find more fun facts in the guide. If you live by a beach that’s not closed at this time, use the guide to explore and learn, while taking outdoor walks (minding CDC recommendations for social safety).

More on our Shorelines work here.

#2: Explore the Farallon Islands from your Couch

We study everything on the Farallones, including tide pool creatures like nudibranchs. There are several resources for you to get an intimate look at this special California Island Wildlife Refuge that we’ve been stewarding with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for over 50 years! Peak into life on the Farallones with the Farallon Live Web Cam! The webcam is a partnership of the USFWS, Point Blue Conservation Science, and the California Academy of Sciences. Watch an introductory video and then explore an interactive map of the key places on the Island.You can also follow and peruse the archives of our Los Farallones blog.

More on our Oceans work here.

#3: Amp Up Conservation on Your Ranch

Some of you are sheltering at home on your ranch. Not that ranch work ever stops, but this may be an opportune time to explore some of our resources to improve ecosystem health on your land. Such as our Being the Best Nest Box Landlord for Songbirds in the West. It’s a little late to put up nest boxes for this breeding season, but it’s never too late to build them and plan for future years. You could also start to familiarize yourself with key birds that indicate the health of grassland, creekside, or oak woodland habitat on your property. If you’re in San Mateo County, explore more than just birds with our Checklist of Common Wildlife Species of the Working Lands of Coastal San Mateo County created by Rich Stallcup or our Guide to Pasture Plants of Coastal San Mateo County written and illustrated by Point Blue ecologist Mel Preston.  

More on our Working Lands work here.

#4: Restore Your Patch

Large scale habitat restoration is hugely important and often communities are invited to be involved. But in this time of Shelter in Place, how can you take steps to enhance your own small patch? Our “Bringing Back the Birds” guides for both the North San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley regions are very user friendly and can be applied to enhancing a small or large patch. Explore our climate-smart planting tool to help you pick native plants in Marin and Sonoma Counties as well as Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties. If you’re not able to make it to a native plant nursery at this time, it may be a perfect time to create a design to implement in the near future.

More on our Restoration work here.

#5: Enhance Your Bird Brain!

Birds are indicators of the health of our entire planet and learning about and being inspired by them is where a lot of our own staff’s conservation science career paths started. We’d like to offer you some of the resources we’ve used and created to help you deepen your bird learning at home. We love Cornell’s All About Birds site to learn about North American birds. Hop on over and get great overviews including video and sound. Visit our Tools & Resources Overview page and scroll down to the second featured resource to explore our Pocket Guides to birds of different habitats. Karen Sinclair, one of our former interns, created this great Nest Coloring Book for younger learners. For more advanced learners, nerd out on our bird science by perusing our Publication Briefs

More on our Education work here.

#6: Be part of the Long Game

Long-term datasets are the backbone of our scientific innovation at Point Blue. They give us a rich and meticulous picture of the past and present from which we can better plan for an uncertain future. Please join us in monitoring the birds and wildlife you see around you while you are at home or safely strolling your neighborhood! Two great ways to contribute your observations to centralized, long-term databases are by submitting them to iNaturalist or eBird. Point Blue and other scientists often access information from these databases to do our analyses.

More on our Keystone Datasets here.


Thanks for reading and sharing this blog post. We also thank all of our supporters that have helped us continue our work through this challenging time and invite you to support our conservation science, outreach, and partnerships as well.

Take good care of yourselves and the Earth this April and beyond.

Written and compiled by Lishka Arata, Senior Communications Coordinator