X
× The Zoo is closed. For more information, see the COVID-19 Update page.

Neighborhood Nestwatch

  • An American Robin, a small bird with a brown and black feathers and a yellow beak, stands in green grass
Share this page:

This Smithsonian citizen science program provides an outdoor educational experience for backyard wildlife enthusiasts and underserved youth. Participants contribute to important scientific research by re-sighting banded birds and monitoring nests. The Neighborhood Nestwatch approach features face-to-face interaction on an annual basis between Smithsonian scientists, participants and neighborhood birds. The program takes place in metro-area backyards, as well as at under-resourced schools in cities throughout the U.S.

Read more about Neighborhood Nestwatch in action, and listen to recordings from an actual backyard visit.

Resources for Participants

A researcher with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center talks to a mother and two young children about birds. They are seated around a table in their backyard with a tree and grass in the background.
Find participant resources, such as information about annual site visits, nest monitoring guidelines, instructions for re-sighting color-banded birds and backyard habitat enhancements.

Re-sighting Color-banded Birds

A small, light-brown bird, called a house wren, perched on top of a man-made nesting box. The bird has purple, aluminum and white tracking bands around its legs.
Each year, hundreds of birds join the thousands that have already been color-banded in Nestwatch backyards and schoolyards.

Nest Monitoring Guidelines

A cardinal nest with three blue, speckled eggs in a tree surrounded by green leaves
Following the life of a nest provides the opportunity to make an important scientific contribution but must be done very carefully.

School Participation

SMBC researcher Bob Reitsma holds a small bird and talks to a group of students and teachers about the Neighborhood Nestwatch program
An adapted Neighborhood Nestwatch experience provides a fun and educational outdoor opportunity for second- to eighth-grade students, right in their schoolyard. Please note that school programs will not be available for the 2018-2019 school year.

Submit Nestwatch Data

A bright red bird, called a northern cardinal, perched in a tree with green leaves
Are you a Neighborhood Nestwatch participant? Submit your nest monitoring and bird re-sighting data to Smithsonian scientists here.