Study of Golden Eagles Migration in the Calgary Canada
The eagles watch project is an effort of volunteer bird observers collecting data to monitor the Golden Eagle population in the Rocky Mountains of Calgary, Canada. The project began in March 1992, through April 2012. Such a Citizen Scientist research project has gained great popularity over the last decade due to extensive labor and time needed for observational studies in the fields such as Ornithology and Astronomy. The goal of the Citizen Scientist project is not only accelerate and enrich the scientific discovery, but also to promote public awareness in scientific matters.
However, a critical challenge facing on these type of projects which is how to ensure data quality from Citizen Scientists. Particularly in this project, the timespan and frequency of observations made by volunteers vary due to uncontrollable factors, and there may also be the varying degrees of proficiency in identifying the Golden Eagles in migration among different observers. This study investigates these effects on data collection using mixed effect modeling and kernel smoothing. Among 38 volunteers, 23 observers were found to have mean residuals statistically significant different from zero, suggesting potential problem with these observers. Data from the remaining observers revealed a general trend of decreasing eagle population over the past 20 years, though this trend is not statistically significant.