Big Year at the DNERR

Calling all birders! Join the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) for a Big Year in 2022. Be a citizen scientist. Help gather important data for conservation efforts.

A Big Year is a challenge birdwatchers set for themselves to see or hear as many birds and bird species as possible within a single year.

The DNERR Big Year has a similar goal — to identify as many species of birds as possible within the Reserve during 2022. The Reserve has two components: the Blackbird Creek Reserve in Townsend and the St. Jones Reserve in Dover.

Observing Marsh Birds

Become a Citizen Scientist

This is a citizen science project that will help create a year-long snapshot of the birds that visit lands within the DNERR boundaries.

Volunteers must register to take part. They will log their observations during the year into either iNaturalist or eBird. Volunteers can join the effort at any time during the DNERR Big Year.

Working together, they will create a crowd-sourced dataset of bird species that will serve as a baseline inventory for state biologists.

The Goals

The goals of the Big Year at the DNERR are to:

  • Develop a baseline inventory for “a snapshot in time” for the bird species within the Reserve boundaries.
  • Provide input for conservation plans and land stewardship and restoration efforts.
  • Engage amateur, seasoned and new birders in collecting scientific data.
  • Provide learning opportunities.
  • Inspire visitors to enjoy and contribute to conservation efforts in Delaware.

The Rules

Big Year at the DNERR has the following Challenge Rules (based on guidance from the American Birding Association):

  • The DNERR Big Year runs from midnight Jan. 1, 2022 to 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2022.
  • Birds must have been within the prescribed area when observed. Observation must have occurred within the prescribed time period.
  • Birds must have been alive, wild and unrestrained when observed.
  • Diagnostic characteristics, sufficient for the recorder to identify it by species, must have been seen and/or heard and/or documented for the bird observation.
  • The bird must have been observed under conditions that conform to the American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics.

Volunteers must remain in publicly accessible areas within the DNERR. Do not enter private properties. Learn more about the trail systems at Blackbird Creek and at St. Jones.

The St. Jones Reserve and Blackbird Creek Reserve have free parking. You may need a conservation access pass to park on state wildlife areas (e.g., the Ted Harvey Conservation Area).

Safety Guidelines

Participants should remain aware of their surroundings at all times.

Be aware of hunting seasons. Delaware hunting seasons generally begin in September and run through early February of the following year.