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Museum launches ‘community science project’ to spot birds of prey

Great horned owls are among the nesting raptors around the Batiquitos Lagoon that researchers are interested in.
Great horned owls are among the nesting raptors around the Batiquitos Lagoon that researchers are interested in.
(Courtesy)

The San Diego Natural History Museum is crowdsourcing an effort to observe birds of prey that are nesting around the Batiquitos Lagoon, located between Carlsbad and Encinitas, particularly on private property that museum researchers can’t access.

“There’s a lot of private property in the area,” said Kim Ferree, an Encinitas resident and a museum researcher who has been involved in many different avian studies throughout her career. “We thought this would be a great community science project.”

The nesting raptors that she and her team are interested in include the great horned owl, barn owl, red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk and American kestrel.

Ferree added that the observations that she and her team are collecting “tell you about the health of the ecological community around the lagoon.”

“People know a lot about the raptors in their area,” she said. “They tend to be very visible. When they have young, they’re loud.”

The nesting raptors near the lagoon will be in the area through July.

“Right now they’re either building nests, so you’ll see them carrying nesting material, or they’ll start to lay eggs and they’ll be incubating their eggs,” Ferree said, adding that metrics of interest include the numbers of nests and young.

According to the museum, the data collected this year will be compared to the prior year’s data and will help guide conservation at the lagoon. Researchers will also be looking at how the nesting density has changed, which nests are being reused this year, which trees the birds are nesting in and the prey they’re feeding their young.

Ferree and the museum are still letting residents know about the project, but she did already receive a photo and video.

“I’m really excited that it’s a community science project,” she said. “I really want to get the word out because I think it will really help our dataset.”

Anyone with observations to share with the museum can use the iNaturalist app or email raptors@sdhnm.org. For more information, visit sdnhm.org.


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