Calling all bird-watching citizen scientists

200916 waterbirds 1
Found a feather at an Australian wetland? Don’t throw it away!
Credit: Auscape / UIG / Getty Images

Birdwatching can be a relaxing pastime but where do they go after they leave the nest and fly away?

For Kate Brandis at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, knowing where waterbird species venture after nesting is important in preserving their habitats – but she needs your help.

Brandis and her fellow researchers at the University of New South Wales and Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation are studying dropped feathers using advanced X-ray and isotope analysis to decipher the habitat and diet of these birds.

Using this information, they wish to create a “feather map” that Brandis hopes will be used to better guide water management and protect waterbird habitats.

If you’re in Australia, you can help the team by collecting and sending in feathers you find in wetland areas. Check out the feather map website to find out more about how you can get involved.

And everyone can find out more about the science behind the project.

Please login to favourite this article.