The Spark Bird Project is designed to use tools of psychological science to understand birders and the experience of birding. It aims to inform how organizations can connect with current and future birders as well as to help birders better understand each other. The Spark Bird Project hopes to address sparks, benefits, opportunities, resources, and barriers in birding. You can read the project plan below. The project is preregistered on the Open Science Framework at and approved by the Canisius College Institutional Review Board (IRB 2021-22 #46). 

Interested in collaborating on The Spark Bird Project? The Spark Bird Project is looking for folks with expertise in translating prompts as well as individuals with machine learning experience to help with coding open-ended responses! Sponsors are also welcome! Please contact project director, Dr. Jenn Lodi-Smith.

Preliminary Findings

The stories from our founding Spark Birders are rich with appreciation of the beauty in nature in general and birds in particular. The birds themselves are as mundane as European Starlings, as elusive as owls, and as flashy as American Redstarts and Peregrine Falcons. Spark bird moments happen across the lifespan from “I was born loving birds, I can’t remember a time I did not love birds” to late life (range = 0-62, mean = 15, mode = 7 years of age). People speak to the importance of field guides, binoculars, bird feeders, and their local birding communities. Perhaps most importantly, these stories communicate rich interpersonal connections – walks with a grandfather, a shared passion with a spouse, a great middle school science teacher, sustained friendships and mentorships. Birds are clearly instrumental in creating lifelong meaning for our founding spark birders helping them “appreciate the world in a whole different way”. 

Spark Bird Preregistration 3.17.2022.pdf