Belted Kingfisher on Taylor WayBelted Kingfisher on Taylor Way© 2013 Gary Freedman Donate Support Blandings Turtles Join the Friends Help the Friends Help Refuge Staff Citizen Science

Volunteers Needed for Citizen Science Projects

Are you an avid bird watcher? A stargazer? A firefly follower? Or just someone who likes walks in the park?

Taking part in Citizen Science Projects is an easy way for anyone who enjoys nature to contribute to scientific studies on a wide range of topics. Whether your interest is in climate change, birds, bugs, or something else Citizen Science Projects are accessible to nature lovers with any level of knowledge.

Many projects simply ask you to report certain rare sightings, while others ask you to monitor certain events, for example when flowers bloom or birds arrive.

There are many options to chose from, and information collected from these projects can have a big impact on local or national conservation efforts.

Rare Species Reporting

Do you frequently visit National Wildlife Refuges? The US Fish and Wildlife Service keeps a log of rare species seen on refuge lands. Keep an eye out on your next walk. Your information will help us record rare species sightings and report information to other agencies.

Species to look out for:

  • Blanding’s Turtle
  • Spotted Turtle
  • Musk Turtle
  • Blue-spotted Salamander
  • Eastern-hog nosed snake
  • Eastern Ribbon Snake
  • Common Moorhen
  • Sedge Wren
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Sora
  • American Bittern
Illustrations by local high school student Sohini Marjadi.
Detailed illustrations here.


Participating NWRs include Assabet River, Great Meadows, Oxbow, Monomoy, Massasoit, Mashpee, Nantucket, and Nomans Land Island.

If you see any of these species on one of the listed refuges: Please contact the refuge Biological Staff at 978-443-4661 x23, 37, or 24, or email a report to Eileen_McGourty@fws.gov. Try to take down the location, time, and date and if possible snap a photo. Please include your contact information in the report so that we can follow up.

If you see any off these species off of the listed refuges: report your sighting to MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Find out more at www.mass.gov.

Blanding’s Turtle Research at Great Meadows NWR and Assabet River NWR

Blandings Turtles on the Great Meadows Refuge.  Photo courtesy of Eastern Mass RefugesBlandings Turtles on the Great Meadows Refuge.Photo courtesy of Eastern Mass RefugesThe local population of Blanding's Turtles at Great Meadows NWR, Concord, is the third largest population known in all of New England but it has declined by more than 50% in the past 30 years. Blanding’s turtle nests are often inadvertently destroyed and adults, especially nesting females, have been killed by cars when crossing roads. Without our help, these unique turtles, many of whom are over 60 years old, will soon be gone from Concord.

What you can do to help:

  • Report any sightings of Blanding’s turtles at Great Meadows or Assabet River NWR (see below).
  • Allow these rare turtles to nest in your yard.
  • Help turtles cross the road, when it's safe to do so.
  • Join Refuge Staff in their ambitious project to repopulate the Assabet River NWR with Blandings Turtles relocated to Assabet from other local refuges. A small number of assistants are needed to help with the research running from May through October. Preference will be given to volunteers who can commit to assisting at least 1 day / week for at least an 8-week period. No special skills are needed.

For more information on reporting turtle sightings and on indentifying a Blanding's Turtle, see here.