Help Project Phoenix Understand the Effects of Wildfire Smoke on Birds

In the age of megafires, people and wildlife are increasingly exposed to hazardous smoke. Although birds are highly sensitive to any air pollution, we know very little about how smoke affects them. Science-based information is critical to inform bird conservation efforts in a rapidly warming world.

Project Phoenix logoProject Phoenix engages community scientists across California to monitor birds during the fire season (August–October), providing valuable data on bird activity when wildfires are likely to impact air quality. Community volunteers conduct weekly, 10-minute, stationary surveys at a location of their choosing and submit their observations to eBird (see below). Data collection is ongoing through October 31, 2023. This information will be shared with decision makers in our state to inform wildlife conservation policy.

Collecting data for Project Phoenix is very easy! First, choose your monitoring site. Your site could be a yard, park, or city street – any space that is accessible and convenient for you. We encourage our volunteers to choose sites they find personally meaningful, such as their home or community center. Your site does not have to be outside. You are welcome to monitor birds indoors from a window if you would prefer. Then, sign up as a volunteer (see below). The website sign-up form asks you to provide basic information about your monitoring site. Next, start monitoring birds! Conduct a 10-minute survey of the birds at your monitoring site, ideally once a week. Here’s how:

  1. Pick a spot to sit or stand during your survey. (This spot should be consistent from week to week).
  2. Record all the birds you see and/or hear for 10 minutes.
  3. Submit your observations to eBird. Tag your checklist by adding #ProjectPhoenix to the comments. (Don't have a free eBird account? Sign up here!)
  4. You might not be able to survey your monitoring site every week, but conduct the survey whenever you are able. Project Phoenix is open to all birders and bird enthusiasts – regardless of previous birding experience.

The program is a joint partnership between the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

For additional information and to sign up, visit their website.

Please call or text Dave Weeshoff at 818-618-1652 or email at for additional information, assistance and questions about Project Phoenix, eBird, or our other conservation or advocacy programs.