Is COVID-19 lockdown good or bad for citizen science?

Last year field technician Rafael Martig (with some help of PhD student Magali Frauendorf and others) launched the citizen science website about roof nesting oystercatchers. This website provides information about the birds, explains their behaviour and provides tips about what you can do when one of these birds is nesting on your roof and help their young survive the urban jungle. The website also allows people from the public to enter data on the location of nests as well as various other information about the type of roof and the fate of the nest. In the first year over 1000 nests were reported, which was many more than expected. First results of analysis suggested that there are likely twice to thrice as many urban oystercatchers than previously estimated.

This year is the second breeding season of the website, and with many people in lockdown for months already due to the COVID-19 pandemic the question is how this will turn out for the contribution by citzien scientists this year. People will be more at home, so will they have more time to see the birds and report them on the website? On the other hand, many reports of roof nesting oystercatchers actually come from people at work in their offices (as many flat roofs, which the birds need for nesting are in industrial/commercial areas). Will we get more or less reports this COVID year? So far , after a slow start, numbers are fairly similar as last year, with over700 nest reported at the end of May, but of course breeding season is far from over, so still time to place your bets!

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