Citizen Science in Action
How to Start a New Butterfly Count
Three of the main goals of NABA’s Butterfly Count Program are to (1) gather data that will monitor butterfly populations, (2) give butterfliers a chance to socialize and have fun, and (3) raise public awareness by hosting events that will increase general interest in butterflies. We have found that a minimum of four observers and six party-hours best meets these three goals.
In order to strengthen the goals of the program, compilers of new butterfly counts are requested to pre-register their count circles with the NABA office prior to holding a count for the first time. Please note that it is suggested but not mandatory to pre-register new count circles in order to hold a NABA Butterfly Count.
By providing the NABA office with notification prior to holding a new count you can ensure that your new count circle does not overlap any current or historical count circle, and that you have provided all the descriptive information needed to publish your count in the annual Butterfly Count Report.
New compilers are encouraged to carefully consider their count circle coordinates, because count data become more valuable the longer a count is run. While it may not be possible to cover an entire count circle in the early years of a new count, the chosen count circle should reflect the hope that more participants will join the count as it becomes established, thereby helping to cover more of the count circle area. Changing a count circle’s coordinates after the count’s inception to include more desirable counting areas lessens the value of the data collected and therefore does not serve the first goal of the Count Program.
Once your count is pre-registered, we will be able to post your count location and date to the NABA website and possibly publicize your count through targeted emails. All new counts must have a minimum of FOUR (4) observers and SIX (6) party-hours. You should begin a count only when you have the reasonable expectation that you will be able to field a minimum of four observers each year. With advance knowledge of new counts, NABA may be able notify possible participants whose numbers can increase the overall success of new counts.
We request that you pre-register a new count at least 30 days prior to your proposed count. Without this lead time, NABA will probably not be able to announce the new count, but we would still appreciate an email notification so that we can check the count circle coordinates prior to the actual count date.