California Naturalist
California Naturalist
California Naturalist
University of California
California Naturalist

Northern CA PPSR Projects 1

Welcome to our ongoing effort to catalog citizen science and other public participation in scientific research (PPSR) projects for UC California Naturalists and other citizen scientists.  We invite you to browse the listed projects or enter key words (like birds, youth, invasive, coast, Alameda, etc.) in the search box above to find projects in your area. It's a great way to stay involved and keep developing your skills as a natural scientist!

A vast majority of the information in the database was gathered from project websites and may be out of date. We encourage you to contact projects directly to get involved and learn about most recent opportunities. If you work with a listed project and would like to add to, update, or correct the information we have, please email Also, please consider filling out the "PPSR perspectives" survey. Click here to access the survey, which will help guide this project in the coming year.

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

Special thanks goes to the National Science Foundation Informal Science Education program and the Stephen J. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for supporting this database of projects.

Colonial Waterbird Surveys

Organization Name
Point Blue
Organization Website
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; California Department of Fish and Game; California Rice Commission
Contact Name
Dave Shuford
Contact Email
Contact Phone
Other Contact Information
Project Purpose (taken from project materials)
Conduct comprehensive surveys of nesting colonies of herons, egrets, night-herons, and cormorants in the southern Central Valley (San Joaquin Valley & Tulare Basin) of California. Immediate goals are to:
  1. Document the size and location of all breeding colonies 
  2. Estimate the minimum regional population size of each species
  3. Contribute to an atlas of breeding waterbird colonies by 2013 
These surveys will also provide a baseline needed to develop a long-term monitoring program to track regional population sizes, trends, and patterns of distribution of colonial waterbirds. All of these goals are in service of the conservation of these wetland birds.
Species of Interest:  Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Double-crested Cormorant
Participant Activities

Participants estimate the number of breeding pairs of each species at colony sites. Generally, the best way to estimate breeding pairs is by counting all active/occupied nests. In most cases participants should be able to conduct a single survey of a multi-species colony in mid- to late May to obtain nest counts for all species. Participants also identify new colonies and record observations such as colony location, bird behavior, and weather.

Data Entry
  • Data Sheets
Other Participant Activities
System Studied
  • Birds
Geographic Scope
All (see 'geographic scope')
San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin including the following counties: Stanislaus, w. Tuolumne, Merced, w. Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare
Location - Map
Time Commitment
  • Once a year
  • Specific dates (see Other Information below)
Volunteer Qualifications

Volunteers must carefully read protocol and should have binoculars or scope for accurate observation

Volunteer Training

Materials, including protocols & background on bird species and identification, is accessible on the project website:

Cost to Participant
How will the findings be used?

Previous years reports are accessible on the project website and data is used to inform resource management and agricultural policy.

Other Information

Timing: Because of the difficulty of seeing into nests high in trees (particularly when obscured by branches or foliage), the best time to obtain an accurate count of the number of active/occupied nests is late in the cycle when large young generally are easily visible in nests and adult activity at nests is high. Although there is a fair amount of variation in the timing of nest initiation among the six target species, we judge the best time for nests counts at colonies is from mid- to late May.

last update:

If you work with this project and would like to add to or update the information below, please email

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

This database is focused on projects in California focused on the environment. For opportunities outside California, as well as national projects that don't have a California-specific components, check

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