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If you'd like to dip a toe into the citizen science thing, this is the time to do it: the annual Backyard Bird Count takes place this coming weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 8 and 9). All you have to do is download a form and keep track of what birds visit your bird feeder at certain times.

Happily for science fans, however, there's nary a fuddy Omega Speedmaster On Leather Nato

thrives at NH Audubon as it turns 100

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New Hampshire Audubon got started before World War I did it turns 100 this month and can point to stirrings that go back even further so it has the excuse to be something of a fuddy duddy, a haven for chickadee fans in comfortable shoes.

nor a duddy in sight. New Hampshire Audubon remains one of the state's major purveyors of "citizen science," the wonderful trend in which people like you and I help gather data that researchers need to help us understand the universe.

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Some of New Hampshire Audubon's projects involved higher level skills (can you identify birds just by their song?) or special equipment (got a boat?), and many involve an hour or two of training, particularly if there's field work.

"It has become a de facto approach for people to crowd source science," said Pamela Hunt, senior biologist for bird conservation for New Hampshire Audubon, who oversees plenty of such projects. "As long as you've got the right controls and know exactly what you're getting, it's invaluable."

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New Hampshire Audubon got started before World War I did it turns 100 this month and can point to stirrings that go back even further so it has the excuse to be something of a fuddy duddy, a haven for chickadee fans in comfortable shoes.

Citizen science projects are everywhere these days, mostly because the Internet has made it much easier to recruit people and share data. Projects range from the lazily geeky (letting your computer hunt for Mersenne prime numbers) to the actively messy (splashing through swamps to count wildlife) to the surprisingly antiquarian (transcribing markings on ancient Greek papyruses or hand written logs of British warships).

citizen science.

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Very cutting edge, yes? Not to Audubon folks; they've been tapping volunteers for ages.

Happily for science fans, however, there's nary a fuddy nor a duddy in sight. New Hampshire Audubon remains one of the state's major purveyors of "citizen science," the wonderful trend in which people like you and I help gather data that researchers need to help us understand the universe. .

The National Audubon Society launched the Christmas Bird Count in 1890, making it the granddaddy of citizen science projects, while New Hampshire Audubon (which is an independent organization, not part of the national Audubon) has had volunteers helping to monitor bird populations in the state since at least the 1960s, coordinating the breeding bird survey of USGS, and has run a variety of major projects since the 1980s, including my favorite: the dragonfly survey.

"Usually you can't get good solid statistical stuff it's too messy," said Hunt, the biologist. "It's not calculus and it never will be. . But it can tell us what we need to know at the scale we need to get it."

Strength comes in numbers. Last year, 1,369 people submitted results from 4,500 hours of observation, spotting 76 different species. That's a staggering amount of data, easily correlated to similar observations from past years to spot large scale trends. Good stuff.

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But the weakness comes in numbers, too, because how can scientists depend on a bunch of untrained amateurs making guesses about what they see? Learning how to compensate for this weakness is one of the things that scientists have done in recent years that has made citizen science viable.

Ruth Smith, who has worked with various Audubon chapters since the 1980s and is overseeing New Hampshire Aubudon's centennial celebration, agreed.

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But some need little more than curiosity, enthusiasm and time. If you like birds or the environment or science or counting (there's plenty of counting in wildlife surveys), then check them out. After all, there's plenty to be learned from a 100 year old.

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Begun as a census of cardinals and tufted titmouse species, it was expanded in 1987 to gather information on the distribution of winter species around the state. It's a good example of the strength and weakness of Omega Women's Watch Vintage

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