Several years ago I was driving down I-16. For anyone whose ever driven that stretch from Macon to Savannah you know it can be a trial just staying awake. It is some of the blandest highway driving in the south.
Well, on this day, like so many others driving from location to location, I looked up and saw a dark shadow coasting above. First thought-- a vulture. Maybe a turkey vulture but probably a black vulture. But as I studied the silhouette I noticed the deeply forked tail that gives no doubt to its identification-- a swallow-tailed kite! What a joy to see!
Swallow-tailed Kites are listed as rare in Georgia and so I noted the exit # and added the bird to my mental life list. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has an ongoing survey about swallow-tailed kites and this information is used to study activity range size and migration routes among other things. So, I did my citizen scientist duty for the day and it felt good.
You can do your part too. There are many ways that your observations in the outdoors can be put to use by wildlife biologists. Check out Georgia Outdoors: Citizen Scientist for more ideas and links.