Tracy Aviary's conservation department has a lot of volunteer-friendly community science programs. These opportunites are unique ways for people of every age to enjoy the outdoors while taking action toward increasing their knowledge of birds and their natural habitat. We have something for people of every commitment level, with hikes and surveys for both families and for those looking for a challenge.  Dont just take our word for it, though. This is what one volunteer had to say about her experience with Tracy Aviary's Alta Bird Monitoring Project.



This spring I volunteered for the Alta Nest Box Monitoring Project.  A training session was held at Tracy Aviary before the season started and volunteers were introduced to the importance of collecting data on nesting birds in Alta and on the history of how the project began. We learned how Tracy Aviary monitors nest boxes and how to take pictures inside owl and song bird nest boxes by using a camera attached to a paint roller extension pole. We were able to practice taking pictures inside the boxes by either placing the camera in the entrance hole of the owl box or by lifting up the top of the songbird box.  We were also taught how to use a GPS to locate the nest boxes at Alta and how data is recorded for each nest box. 

The actual nest box monitoring adventure began in March, on snowshoes and we were always accompanied by Cooper, Bryant or Lucila from the conservation department at the Aviary. I have never worn snowshoes before and it was a lot of fun, but definitely more strenuous than regular walking or hiking.  I fell down every weekend, sometimes on my face but I loved every minute of it. It was so beautiful being out in the wilderness snowshoeing to the nest boxes. I was surprised at how low the boxes were to the ground because the snow pack was so high this year and I was impressed with how knowledgeable Cooper, Bryant and Lucila were in pointing out which species we were hearing and seeing in the area while we were going to each nest box. They always answered any questions we had and I learned something new every week.  Early in the season we only monitored the owl boxes and unfortunately we had no owls nesting this year, but it may take several years for an owl to decide to nest in one of the boxes. 



It was really exciting when the song birds started nesting later in the spring. We were able to learn what the different types of nests looked like depending on the species. I saw mountain chickadees and house wrens up close along with eggs and babies in the nest boxes. It was wonderful to watch the parents actively feeding the babies and to hear them inside the nest box. I really enjoyed watching a house wren chick poke their head out of the nest box waiting for the parent to come back with food.  It was very rewarding to know there was a successful nesting attempt and to see the babies grow up and eventually leave the nest.  It was great when people hiking by stopped us to ask what we were doing and we could tell them about monitoring the nest boxes.  One individual even borrowed binoculars to look at an active nest with a house wren feeding it's babies.  It was great to share the experience with them and to watch their face light up with excitement as they watched the adult feed their young. 

Volunteering for the Alta nest box monitoring project was very gratifying and I looked forward to going every weekend.  I highly recommend this wonderful experience where you can get outside, learn about the birds at Alta, get hands on experience in nest box monitoring and work with the great people from Tracy Aviary.

If you are interested in volunteering with Tracy Aviary's community science programs, please click the link below:


 - Melanie Jones, Tracy Aviary Volunteer



Published in Bird Tweets

As you wander around the Aviary this month, be sure to be on the look out! Hidden among the beautiful botanical gardens and exotic birds is the cutest part of life here at Tracy Aviary: chicks! 

Along with the wonderful weather come lots of new questions for our team. One of the most common and important bird questions we get at the Aviary is, “What do you do if you find a baby chick in nature?”


What do you do?

So what do you do when you come across a baby bird that is not in its nest? It depends greatly on whether it is a nestling (a chick that still lives in the nest, no feathering) or a fledgling (a chick that is leaving the nest, light fluffy feathering). Nestlings that have fallen or gotten pushed from the nest are almost always in need of rescue. They are too fragile and not capable of living outside of their nests. Fledglings that are not in their nests, however, are exactly where they are supposed to be - exposing themselves to new surroundings. Whether it is a nestling or a fledgling that you find, in most cases, you should never take it from it's home. 


About 80% of baby birds that are found and taken to wildlife rehabilitations are not actually lost. The reason for this common misunderstanding is because most people either can’t find the nest, or they can’t find the bird’s parents. This leads them to think that the chick must be lost or abandoned. However, this is not usually the case. 

There are many reasons why a baby bird can be outside of the nest or alone. Nests can be anywhere; up in trees, on the ground, in bushes, etc. If you have come across a lost baby bird that is away from their home, be sure to look hard for their nest before taking them away from their surroundings. 

When a baby bird is alone, it’s usually ok! Parents leave chicks while they look for food. If a nestling is alone or has fallen or left the nest, it has a greater chance of surviving if the parents are able to find the baby when they return. If you find a baby alone, especially if its a fledgling, don’t assume that it is abandoned. It simply means it is getting used to life outside the nest.

When should you help? 

There are simple steps to figure out if the baby bird actually needs help: 

  • I found a baby bird and it's hurt: (unable to move wings, bleeding, weak or injured) If a bird is injured, call or take it to a wildlife rehabilitation immediately.
  • Is it a nestling or a fledgling? If it is a nestling, try to find its nest. If you are able to find the nest and reach it safely, gently put the bird back in it’s home. If you unable to find the nest, build a simple one for the baby in a safe place. Observe it for an hour or so just to make sure the parents come back. If it is a fledgling that you find, let it roam!  Exploring life outside of the nest is a vital part of a fledgling’s development. Just make sure the bird is safe from potential danger like dogs, cats or kids. Again, observe the baby for about an hour, if the birds parents don’t return, contact your local wildlife rehab.


If you aren’t sure, or if you have any questions, call your local wildlife rehabilitation or the Division of Wildlife for your state. They are happy to help, and keeping birds safe and preventing unnecessary removal from a birds home is what they are there for. We all want to help our local birds and wildlife, and knowledge is how we can. For a fun graphic to hang on your fridge click: 


Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah: 801-814-7888, 1490 Park Blvd, Ogden, UT 84401

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources: 801-538-4700, 1594 W North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84116

Wasatch Aviary Education Society: 801-424-2589, P.O. Box 651701, Salt Lake City, Utah  84165

Best Friends Animal Society: 801-574-2454, 2005 South 1100 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84106


-Mackenzy Johnson, Public Relations Coordinator

Published in Bird Tweets


47995959398_398654cc54_o.jpgReady to Hatch, Tracy Aviary's garden party for a cause was last weekend, and it did not disappoint! Through the efforts and donations of everyone that attended, we were able to raise around $105,000 to support our conservation department. Events like this help fund many of our conservation science and community science projects, which do vital work in helping the wildlife and nature in our very own backyards. Along with the amazing food, drink, bird visitors, and music, the guests were able to enjoy our beautiful gardens and great company. We are grateful to everyone who came out to support this beautiful and important evening.




47995935022_a7454bc259_o.jpgEvents like Ready to Hatch are the reason Tracy Aviary can do such great work in their feild!  With citizen/community science programs like the Breeding bird surveys, Alta bird monitoring project and Project broadtail, people of all commitment levels can help make a direct contribution to the work and research of the Tracy Aviary conservation department. While helping the Aviary in their efforts, these projects allow citizen scientists to relax and have fun as they learn all about the birds and nature of Utah. They include family friendly walks, hikes, and surveys for bird nerds of all ages and abilities. These projects extend far beyond our work at the Aviary to help native birds and their natural habitats all across the state, the country and more. Not to mention, they are a great way for people to get outside and enjoy nature while increasing their scientific understanding. 



FOA_Nuthatch.jpgCitizen Science Breeding Bird Suveys: 

In partnership with Salt Lake Public Utilities and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Tracy Aviary has been conducting annual breeding bird surveys in City Creek Canyon, UT, since 2011. These surveys are conducted by people of the community along-side our conservation department to better identify and understand the native birds of Utah. While doing these Surveys, community scientiests get a chance to enjoy the great outdoors while looking for, listening for, and writing down information about the birds they find. The goal of this project is to generate science-based knowledge that helps provide the nessary tools for managers of the canyon. Over time, we hope to better understand how the amount of birds relates to the quality of the habitat they live in, and how we can use this information to support bird and habitat conservation. 


PJ_50A6252.jpgAlta Bird Monitering Survey:

This survey is for the adventurous! Tracy Aviary citizen scientists join up with our expert birders in search of the feathered friends that call Alta home. Studying the birds in that unique, high elevation habitat allows us to better understand the species that live there. Our bird list and counts are continually growing, and so is our excitement! Surveys are done in summer on breeding birds and in winter, on skis or snow shoes, for non-breeding bird species.



PBT2.jpgProject Broadtail:

Project Broadtail is a family friendly community science project that helps us better understand how to protect the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, which is a bird of conservation concern in the state of Utah. Participants have the choice to go on a easy hike or walk with our conservation team to search for and document the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds that they see around their home and in surrounding recreational areas. These surveys provide important information about Broadtail distribution patterns, habitat, and migration. They are fun, healthy, and important for the survival of a beautiful and important pollinator like the hummingbird. 


38453424592_c89b0e757f_o.jpgTracy Aviary's conservation and community science projects not only help our native natural lands, but helps in the public participation and collaboration of important research to better understand the world around us. If you are interested in getting involved with our community science program, or want to learn more about these or other Aviary projects, please visit our conservation site:


- Mackenzy Johnson, Public Relations Coordinator 

Published in Bird Tweets