The afternoon of Monday, August 21, 2017 promises to be an unusual day for many Americans. Mid-afternoon will find many of us outside wearing dark glasses, our heads tilted toward the sky as we watch the solar eclipse. But humans won’t be the only ones exhibiting unusual behavior that day. Solar eclipses have been noted to cause all kinds of strange behavior in animals too. Wildlife watching during the hours of the eclipse will be a special experience, and scientists are hoping you’ll take the time to share your observations.
This isn’t the first solar eclipse, of course. Throughout the ages, humans have marveled (and cowered) when the moon hid the sun from view. As dusk fell in the middle of the day, they noted that birds stopped singing, flowers closed, and animals returned to their dens. When the sun returned, so did the animals, treating it like a second dawn. This behavior fascinates scientists, and they’re taking advantage of the massive audience for this solar eclipse to gather as much information as possible. Citizen scientists who enjoy wildlife watching can participate in several ways.
- Download the free iNaturalist app and set up an account. On the day of the eclipse, choose individual animals or plants you plan to observe. Record your wildlife watching observations 30 minutes before totality, during totality, and 30 minutes after for each organism. Learn more about the iNaturalist Life Responds project here.
- Create an eBird observation list during the eclipse. Note any unusual behavior or sightings. Click here for more on eBird and the eclipse.
- The eclipse will affect many senses. When the moon covers the sun, the sky will darken and temperatures will drop. In many places, sounds will change too. The Eclipse Soundscapes project wants to know what you hear – or don’t – during the eclipse. Learn more here.
However you plan to watch the solar eclipse of 2017, be sure to do so safely. NASA has all the information you need – just click here.