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Cardinal Capture Project

Cardinal Capture: researching potential effects of Urban Noise and Light Pollution on Avian Health 

Past studies have observed numerous effects of noise and light pollution on neighboring wildlife in urban settings. Specifically with birds, who serve as a great indicator species, these effects have been shown to alter their communication, migration patterns, and even health.

Working alongside advisor Dr. Caren Cooper, Wildlife Biologist and Ornithologist Lauren Pharr is looking at potential effects that different levels of noise and light pollution may have on songbird physiology. Using the Northern Cardinal as her focal species, she is specifically researching whether the health of Northern Cardinals vary with the degree of anthropogenic disturbance to the soundscape and nightscape in residential settings.

Using a specific form of Citizen Science known as “Mentored” Citizen Science, Lauren’s Project, Cardinal Capture, is hosted on the SciStarter platform, which is home to an array of Citizen Science Projects. Here, volunteers who reside in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill areas can sign up to allow Lauren and her research team travel to their backyard in order to mist net and take measurements of Northern Cardinals. Volunteers also have the opportunity to use a light meter, which will help with measuring the different light levels in backyards all over the area.

“We are hoping to see a correlation between noise and light levels and cardinal health. In an area of moderately low noise and light, we expect cardinals to be in good health, whereas in an area of moderately high noise and light, we expect cardinals to be in poor health.”

The Cardinal Capture Project is still open for volunteers to sign up!
“If you have 30 feet of open space for my nets and an abundance of Cardinals coming to your feeder, then that is all you need to participate!”