Spring Alive – tracking nature

Spring Alive is an exciting “citizen science” project organised by BirdWatch Ireland and its partners all across Europe. It is an ideal way to learn about the wonders of bird migration, and it allows you to make an important contribution to science while doing it.

Taking part in Spring Alive is easy: simply look or listen for your first Swallow, Swift and / or Cuckoo of the spring, and then enter the details on the project's website,  www.springalive.net. The whole process takes just seconds: a name and a couple of mouse clicks are all it takes. Or, if preferred, records can be submitted by post or phone.

No advance knowledge of birds is required. To help you get to know as much as possible about the three species, the website is packed with information, including photos, sound recordings, video clips, and even interactive games and real-time maps to show the birds arriving across the continent. All of the material is available in both English and Irish language versions, and a wide range of other European languages. For teachers who would like to run Spring Alive as a class project, a special set of teachers' materials is also available for download.

Every single observation is important – thanks to input from the public, scientists will be able to check the birds' arrival dates every year and see how different factors influence their migration. With time, the data that is gathered should reveal some interesting annual patterns and may become very useful for the monitoring of other important environmental issues, like climate change or habitat loss.

BirdWatch Ireland is hoping for a large participation in Spring Alive this year, so please have a go yourself and submit your records.  After all, if you have seen some of these remarkable birds, wouldn't it be nice to share this news with the rest of the world?

To learn more about Spring Alive or to submit your records, please visit www.springalive.net. Alternatively, please write to BirdWatch Ireland, PO Box 12, Greystones, Co Wicklow or call 01 2819878


Pictured: A young Cuckoo being fed by its unsuspecting Robin foster parent.

Photo by Artur Tabor