DEEP: Volunteer Opportunities - CT Wildlife Division

Volunteer Opportunities

Many of Connecticut's wildlife conservation programs are dependent on the assistance of volunteers. Please browse the descriptions below and contact us if you would like more information on getting involved.

Chimney Swift Watch

{Chimney Swift} Chimney Swift Watch is a regional initiative to more thoroughly assess the chimney swift population in Connecticut.

What’s Involved?
Volunteers are needed to monitor chimney swift roosting and nesting chimneys located throughout the state. The Wildlife Division also is requesting reports from property owners who have chimney swifts in their chimneys. (Learn more)

The Chimney Swift Watch webpage also provides general information about chimney swifts and a curriculum program developed for students in grades 1-2, as well as a Chimney Swift Ambassador program for high school students.
 

Summer Night Bird Callback Survey

{Whip-poor-will} The Night Bird Callback Survey Project is part of a statewide initiative to more thoroughly assess the nocturnal avian species that breed in Connecticut. This project is important due to the lack of information that exists on the distribution and critical habitat features of these species in our state.

What’s Involved?
Summer Night Bird Surveys: Summer surveys targeting whip-poor-wills and saw-whet owls will be conducted along predetermined roadside survey routes. Potential survey dates and times are limited by lunar conditions. The 2014 survey period will be from May 5 through June 21. Volunteers will need to make 2 visits total during these dates when conditions are clear. Surveys will be conducted using a callback recording (provided) of the northern saw-whet owl. This project is recommended for paired birders.

How Can You Get Involved?
If you would like to participate in the night bird surveys or if you have any questions, please contact us as indicated below.

The Wildlife Division is interested in obtaining any additional night bird records you may have, whether they are on your survey route or in your backyard!

Who to Contact:
Shannon Kearney, DEEP Wildlife Division, Sessions Woods WMA, PO Box 1550, Burlington, CT 06013; 860-675-8130. Email: shannon.kearney@ct.gov

For More Information:
To learn more about night bird research and monitoring efforts, read the following articles from the Wildlife Division's bimonthly magazine, Connecticut Wildlife.
 
First Year for Owl Surveys  CT Wildlife (PDF)
Nightjar Surveys CT Wildlife (PDF)
 

Leopard Frog Monitoring

In the modern era of science, it is rare to find an opportunity to document a new species, especially in the bustling tri-state area. However, this spring the Connecticut DEEP Wildlife Division is seeking volunteers for an exciting regional project documenting the distribution of a newly-discovered species of leopard frog in Connecticut! If you enjoy listening to the spring time choruses of frogs and have wanted to be on the cutting edge of new scientific discovery, this opportunity is for you. The nighttime call of this new leopard frog sounds similar to the “chuck” of wood frog’s, but with a distinct drawn out “groan” mixed in.
 
{Leopard Frog}
Leopard Frog (not the new species)
Photo courtesy of Dennis Quinn
What’s Involved?
Volunteers will be asked to make audio recordings, at night, of calling frogs, via any recording device, including (preferably) cell phones. Interested persons will have the opportunity to visit the habitats these frogs may potentially occur in during the late March/early April breeding season (weather depending). A standard survey protocol and datasheet outlining the volunteer’s primary responsibilities will be provided. All volunteers are required to attend one short training session. Habitats will be surveyed along the Connecticut, Farmington, and Housatonic Rivers. Additional survey efforts will be focused in Fairfield and Litchfield counties.
 
How Can You Get Involved?
Interested volunteers should email the DEEP Wildlife Division at deep.ctwildlife@ct.gov.
 

Master Wildlife Conservationist Program

{Master Wildlife Conservationist emblem} The Master Wildlife Conservationist Program (MWCP) is an adult education program based in Burlington, Connecticut, that trains participants in the fields of wildlife management, natural history and interpretation. The purpose of the program is to develop a volunteer corps capable of providing education, outreach, and service for state agencies, environmental organizations, libraries, schools, and the general public.
 
What’s Involved?
Participants receive 40 hours of intensive classroom and field training and have one year, following completion of the training, to provide 40 hours of volunteer service. To maintain certification in the program, a minimum of 8 hours of advanced training and 20 hours of volunteer service each year must be completed.
 
How Can You Get Involved?
The MWCP is a very popular program. Only 20 people are chosen to participate each year. Classes usually are held each spring. The next program series is planned for spring 2015. For more information about the program, contact: Laura Rogers-Castro, DEEP Wildlife Division, Sessions Woods WMA, PO Box 1550, Burlington, CT 06013; 860-675-8130; laura.rogers-castro@ct.gov.
 

Forest Interior Bird Survey

Forest interior birds in Connecticut are the focus of a new initiative. This group of birds requires large tracts of forest to successfully rear young and are often missed or poorly sampled by other surveys. Several forest interior species are at risk throughout their range and are of high conservation need. One of these species is the cerulean warbler, which was selected to serve as a focal species for this project. A clearer understanding of the distribution and success of cerulean warblers in the landscape is critical for attaining population objectives for this species in Connecticut. Of particular interest is the effect of current forestry practices on forest interior birds, like the cerulean warbler. The results of these surveys will provide needed information that will guide future habitat management in the state.
 
What’s Involved? {Cerulean Warbler}
This project requires volunteers to have a significant amount of birding experience because forest interior birds can be very difficult to identify. Surveys will be conducted 3 times at established points: once between May 20-June 2, once between June 3-June 16, and once between June 17-June 30. Each survey should take no more than 1-2 hours and will be conducted between 6:00 AM-10:00 AM. Some of the survey routes are on well-marked hiking trails, but there are other routes that are not. Volunteers need to be in good physical condition.
 
How Can You Get Involved?
All volunteers will be required to attend one of two training days in April, either at the Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods office in Burlington or the Franklin Wildlife office in North Franklin. Training will focus on project goals and how to properly collect and record data.
 
Who to Contact:
Geoffrey Krukar, DEEP Wildlife Division, Sessions Woods WMA, PO Box 1550, Burlington, CT 06013; 860- 675-8130; Geoffrey.Krukar@ct.gov
 

Woodland Raptor Survey {Cooper}

Woodland raptor surveys were conducted with the assistance of volunteers. The resulting information will help the Wildlife Division determine the population status and habitat requirements of six species of breeding raptors in Connecticut. The surveys have been completed and a project summary is currently in progress.

Woodland Raptor Nest Monitoring

Although volunteers are no longer being requested for the survey, they are still needed to report and help monitor raptor and owl nests. If you know of a nest location, please report it to the Wildlife Division.

Who to Contact:
Shannon Kearney, DEEP Wildlife Division, Sessions Woods WMA, PO Box 1550, Burlington, CT 06013; 860- 675-8130; shannon.kearney@ct.gov

For More Information:
To learn more about the Woodland Raptor Survey or Raptor Nest Monitoring, read the following articles from the Wildlife Division's bimonthly magazine, Connecticut Wildlife.
 
Woodland Raptor Monitoring  Connecticut Wildlife (PDF)
The Red-tailed Hawk  Connecticut Wildlife (PDF)

Wild Turkey Brood Survey

{Wild Turkey Poult} The Wildlife Division conducts the annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey to estimate the average number of turkey poults (young-of-the-year) per hen statewide and to assess annual fluctuations in the turkey population. This index allows the Division to gauge reproductive success each year and to evaluate recruitment of new birds into the fall population. Weather, predation, and habitat conditions during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons can all significantly impact nest success, hen survival, and poult survival.
 
What's Involved?
From June 1 to August 31, volunteers and Department staff record all of the hens and poults observed during normal travel. Each observation is categorized by total number of hens observed, total poults, and total number of hens with poults. Observations of male (tom) turkeys are not requested for this survey.
 
If you would like to participate, you can download a Wild Turkey Observation Form (pdf) to record your observations. Instructions can be found on the data sheet. This is a great way to partner with the Wildlife Division to help monitor the state's wild turkey population.

{Wild Turkey Hen} Who to Contact:
Completed surveys should be returned to:
Michael Gregonis
DEEP Wildlife Division
Franklin WMA
391 Route 32
North Franklin, CT 06254
(860) 642-7239
michael.gregonis@ct.gov

For More Information:
To learn more about the Wild Turkey Brood Survey, read the following articles from the Wildlife Division's bimonthly magazine, Connecticut Wildlife.
 
2009 Turkey Brood Survey  Connecticut Wildlife

 
Content last updated on April 7, 2014.