BIRDLINK Community Science

BIRDLINK spotlights plant/insect/bird interactions and instills a sense of local ownership and public stewardship in response to hemispheric declines in bird populations. Students are involved with planting and community science. Below are some data visualizations from 2020 observations made by Giselle Herrera, urban ecologist
Questions asked at Marsha P. Johnson State Park BirdLink installation 
Williamsburg Brooklyn, August 2020
Plants: What has survived? What has died off? What volunteers are new to the site? Do they have any benefits?

Insects: What insects visited the site? How often and when? Are these insects important pollinators? Do they contribute to the ecosystem?

Birds: What birds visit the site? Are they migrants? Common species? Of conservation concern?
How do they contribute to the ecosystem? Are they important pollinators

BIRDLINK Data Visualizations

Click to view each survey in full detail
Please email for further information
(additional eBird identifications from August 27th - October 18th include Herring gull, Northern parula, Common yellowthroat, Ovenbird, House finch, American robin, Gray catbird, Peregrine falcon)

BIRDLINK's Educational Goal

Inspire new conservationists, including students interested in nature, animals, science, and art. Below are four sets of worksheets made by Giselle Herrera, urban ecologist, that community members can use to help observe and understand more about birds, plants and insects

Bird Survey Packet

Download PDF

Plant Survey Packet

Download PDF

Insect Survey Packet

Download PDF

Green Urban Structure Survey

Download PDF

BIRDLINK Infographic


Biodiversity Research

Associating Birds With Specific Plant Species

Specific Plant Species

Native New York Plant Species

Golden Rod Plant -This herbaceous perennial plant 2-3½' tal -These compound flowers often bloom gradually, rather than simultaneously, with older flowers turning brown while younger flowers are still in the bud stage. The blooming period is late summer to early fall, and lasts about 1 month. -The preference is full sun and moist conditions. However, this plant tolerates drier conditions, and can be surprisingly drought tolerant. The soil should contain high amounts of organic matter; some varieties of this plant also grow in moist sandy soil. Powdery mildew seems to bother this goldenrod less often than many others. It is easy to grow, but can spread aggressively in moist sunny places. -Habitats include moist black soil prairies, edges of marshes, sandy pannes between dunes, calcareous seeps, borders of lakes, abandoned fields, and ditches along railroads. Healing Properties of GoldenRod: Antifungal, diuretic, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, astringent, antiseptic, and carminative. Supports the kidneys, urinary track, skin, allergies, and cardiovascular system.

New England Aster-Likes partial to full sun, can reach 3’-6’ height -It prefers moist, rich soils, but is easily grown in a broad range of conditions, thriving in full sun or light shade in all but the driest soils. It does self-seed in favorable conditions. Healing Properties: A poultice of the root has been used in the treatment of pain, fevers and diarrhea. ... A decoction of the whole plant has been used in the treatment of all kinds of fevers and in the treatment of weak skin.

Common Milkweed-This is a tall and conspicuous species that sometimes forms large clones. The umbels bear large balls of pink to purplish flowers that have an attractive odor. This species is known to form hybrids with both A. exaltata (in the east) and A. speciosa (in the west) -Within its range it can be found in a broad array of habitats from croplands, to pastures, roadsides, ditches and old fields. -Likes sun, moist soil, Medium to fine sandy, clayey, or rocky calcareous soils. Also found in well-drained loamy soils. -NOT SHADE tolerant, needs lots of sunlight. Healing Properties: The latex from showy milkweed and common milkweed is used as a treatment for warts, ringworm, and other skin ailments. Root extracts of pleurisy root are used for respiratory disorders and those of common and swamp milkweed, for intestinal parasites.

Virginia Mountain Mint-Has a lovely violet blossom and distinctively aromatic foliage. -It is a familiar component of prairie and savanna communities on all but the wettest of soils. Native to most of North America, it often is cited for its historical medicinal applications among indigenous peoples. These include poultices for boils and lacerations, as well as tea infusions for headaches, indigestion and colds and flu. -It likes full sun to partial sun exposure, and likes medium wet and dry soil. Healing Properties: Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antioxidant, Carminative, Emmenagogue

Wild Bergamot Bee Balm-Has a lovely violet blossom and distinctively aromatic foliage. -It is a familiar component of prairie and savanna communities on all but the wettest of soils. Native to most of North America, it often is cited for its historical medicinal applications among indigenous peoples. These include poultices for boils and lacerations, as well as tea infusions for headaches, indigestion and colds and flu. -It likes full sun to partial sun exposure, and likes medium wet and dry soil. Healing Properties: Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antioxidant, Carminative, Emmenagogue

Case Study New York City

City on a Migratory Bird Flyway
Migratory Bird Pathways United States
New York City is part of the Atlantic Flyway. New York City resident birds include Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Robin and many more. Other colorful birds pass briefly through New York City on their way to larger woodlands and forests, the orange Baltimore Oriole, the red and black Scarlet Tanager, the yellow patterned with black and greens Warblers. They fly through the night with southwest winds during the spring migration – that begins in February and tapers off rapidly by early June. They pass through again in autumn. Birds come from the Arctic tundra the Amazon rainforest, the Argentine pampas, and places in between. They leave our latitudes each fall when food sources disappear with colder weather. The seasonal shifts link us with the entire Western Hemisphere.

Credit: Roger F. Pasquier: Interrupted Landscapes: The Future of Bird Migration

New York Species Of Special Concern

Local and Migratory Birds
Robins - the iconic bird of childhood currently suffer a 30% loss; part of a large trend among bird populations. One-third of wintering North American bird populations have declined since 1966. The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) states that more than one-third of North American bird species are at risk of extinction.
  • New York Species of Concern
  • New York Species of Concern 1
  • New York Species of Concern 2
  • New York Species of Concern 3

Migratory Birds of New York

Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Orchard Oriole
Pine Grosbeak
Pine Siskin
Pine Warbler
Purple Finch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
American Tree Sparrow
Baltimore Oriole
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Grosbeak Blue Jay
Brown Thrasher
Chipping Sparrow
Common Redpoll
Dark-eyed Junco
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Towhee
Evening Grosbeak
Field Sparrow
Hermit Thrush
House Finch
Red-winged Blackbird
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Song Sparrow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warble

Create a living Lab: where failure of certain species, and survival (and wild colonization) of others reveals ecological consequence. A low cost, politically acceptable wildlife support system within context of a market that largely treats ecology as a consumer "feel good" lifestyle choice
Design: modular wildlife support structures insert into ecological monoculture "deserts", both urban and suburban.
Sustainability: Workshops to introduce use of sustainable building materials like bamboo and native perennial plantings.
Research: potential future wildlife habitat networks to reconnect backyards, streetscapes and campuses to the world as a bird sees it.
Connect: Metropolitan Open Space Systems in which each planting fragment is valued from an insect or Bird eye view.
Introduce: "Thinking like an Ant" and "What does a bird see?" concept to general public in a tangible physical form.
Question: Inter-species responsibility amid shock of "Where did all the insects go?"
Study Bird migration pathways and habitat restoration processes including plant survival and spontaneous replacement.
Monitor bird and insect populations at installation sites with bio-acoustic devices as well as direct observation.
Experiment– Construct unplanted gabion units and fill with the same soil as the planted gabions nearby. Observe which plants establish themselves. Discover evidence of “non-natives” that flourish on location.
Map optimal locations for landscape interventions.
Develop Communication within trans-disciplinary platforms on a campus.
Develop Communication across multiple campus networks.
Develop Structural Design for Specific Sites using BIRDLINK's modular structural units
Develop Horticultural Design This living sculpture can help make bird-friendly campuses by extending the vertical plant installation out across the ground to make a demonstration patch of native meadow where monoculture lawns dominate.


Arts and Humanities Students- Develop content for communication platforms; Research historical, archetypal, and current cultural ideas about plants and birds
Planners- Map migration pathways through cities or regions, in order to site multiple BIRDLINK installation networks.
Designers- adapt modular BIRDLINK components to specific sites and conditions in new configurations
Biology and Computer Science Students- Data analysis of bio-acoustic recordings and development of media sharing platforms
Environmental Engineers- Develop passive water collection and irrigation methods and develop adaptations to varied regional climate conditions.
Ecologists and Landscape Architects- Gather data about local tree canopy, water availability, identify public spaces deficient in plant life, assess optimum distance between rest stops for migrating birds.
Educators- Develop curricula for varied age groups and focus areas
Community Science Participants- Observe and record observations to inaturalist and e-bird platforms. Cultivate plantings.

Birdlink Habitat Installation New York City
LIGHT Conservationist NYC
Merlin Bird ID App

Merlin Bird ID App

Take a walk with Merlin Merlin Bird ID app - it identifies more than 650 U.S. and Canada birds, and comes with photos, maps, and sounds. Download it and head out for a short, head-clearing walk each morning or evening.
Find out more....
Bird song Hero

Bird Song Hero

Bird Song Hero combines spectrograms, videos, and a game format to help you visualize songs as you learn them. And it’s free.
Find out more....


Keep a daily list — and share it! eBird provides a handy way to keep all your sightings in one place: upload photos and sounds to remind you of what you found, while the data you enter helps scientists understand bird populations.
Find out more....
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BIRDLINK installations go beyond signaling loss to establish small habitat patches to instigate recovery.

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