There are about 9,000 species of birds in the world, which, in spite of being a very diverse group of animals, all share certain traits. Beaks, wings, flight, eggs, hollow bones and, especially, feathers are all adaptations that help birds survive. Citizen scientists participating in The WildLab will search for birds in their local areas, view these birds through binoculars and, using an iPhone app, record observations about its shape, size, color, pattern and behavior.

The WildLab iPhone app enables citizen scientists to select which bird they are observing. If the citizen scientists are in doubt, they can select from a number of bird silhouettes and colors and even listen to bird songs to be sure they identify the correct bird. Once they are sure of their identification, they count the number of that species seen and enter the sighting in the WildLab database. The phones use GPS to log sightings with accuracy to within a few meters. These observations can be viewed online and submitted to databases such as Cornell's eBird Database, and then used by scientists to track bird numbers and distribution.