Zooniverse Condor Watch

Zooniverse Condor Watch
Image: Image courtesy of CarTick at en.wikipedi.

The California condor is a critically endangered species and the population is suffering from the effects of lead poisoning. By tracking the location and social behavior of the animals scientists can better detect early warning signs of the illness. Zooniverse’s Condor Watch project needs citizen scientists to look at some photos of condors taken by its motion-activated cameras. By identifying the tag number of each condor and their behavior around the feeding carcass, researchers can judge if the bird's eating or social problems can reveal lead poisoning.
Condor Watch consists of hundreds of thousands of photographs taken by remotely triggered cameras at provided feeding stations. These feeding stations are sites, located in California, where uncontaminated animal carcasses are placed out for the birds to feed on, in part to keep the birds acclimated so they can be trapped regularly for health monitoring. Photos from these feeding stations are labor-intensive to process, and yet they provide some of the best data on the history of each bird’s behaviors and social interactions and also the best real-time information on the health of individual birds, since not all birds carry radio or GPS transmitters.
Currently, managers glean only immediate health data from these photos, although the photographs contain more information that could be used to better understand the social interactions, individual personalities of condors, and the ecology of this highly endangered species.
The project would like citizen scientists to identify all animals they can see in each photo. For all condors, describe as best you can the tag that each condor has pegged to its wing.

Project Details

  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Data Processing
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Sign up for a Zooniverse account at the Condor Watch Web site.

See more projects in FreeData ProcessingAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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