The Puget Sound Seabird Survey (PSSS) is a community science program that trains volunteer birdwatchers to gather valuable data on wintering seabird populations in Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands. Together, surveyors capture a snapshot of live seabird density on more than 5,400 acres of shoreline habitat. It is the only land-based, multi-month seabird survey in the Southern Salish Sea.

In late spring, Seattle Audubon made the difficult decision to sunset the volunteer coordination and data collection portions of PSSS. Over the summer, science committee chair Dr. Peter Hodum reached out to potential partners to take on this work.

We are now thrilled to share that Puget Sound Bird Observatory (PSBO) has taken over the volunteer coordination and data collection activities for the PSSS. This means that the valuable long-term PSSS dataset will continue to grow into the future.

Thankfully, the PSSS will now have a home at PSBO. With its focus on bird research, habitat monitoring, and community science in the Pacific Northwest, PSBO is a natural fit. PSBO manages several avian research projects powered by community science volunteers, making the PSSS a wonderful complement to their research family. Seattle Audubon will remain a program partner moving forward.

Varied Thrush by Mick Thompson. Varied Thrush are common birds to find dead or injured around windows.

Volunteer Powered

The time, effort, and expertise that volunteers contribute to the PSSS, in all sorts of Pacific Northwest weather conditions, is invaluable and so appreciated. This project would have been completely impossible without them, and Seattle Audubon is grateful for their participation and commitment to understanding local birds. Incredibly, many of these volunteers will continue to generously share their time and skills by volunteering for the PSSS through PSBO. We cannot thank them enough. If you are interested in volunteering for the PSSS, visit the PSBO website to learn how to get involved.

The next phase of the PSSS at this organization

We are currently looking at questions to ask of the PSSS data, examining what complimentary data sets may be needed to answer these questions, and seeking individuals to complete this work. If you have a question that you think could be answered using the PSSS data, please email Christine Scheele.

Additionally, we know that long-term datasets such as those assembled through the PSSS are valuable to researchers. We are investigating ways to share these data with the wider world on sites such as Kaggle, Avian Knowledge Network, and Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

We are excited and optimistic about the program’s transition to PSBO. Equally exciting will be learning about the stories contained within the existing PSSS dataset; surely there are many.


Double-Crested Cormorant

Surf Scoter, Mathew Malwitz

Christine Scheele

Christine Scheele

Seattle Audubon Program Director

In second grade Christine declared that she would be a forest ranger when she grew up, mostly because she thought it involved running around in the woods all day. To this day, running around in the woods is a large part of her life, but her professional aspirations have evolved. Prior to working at Seattle Audubon Christine worked in stormwater management and permitting, assisted biologists with fieldwork, led several restoration teams, and taught at various environmental education centers and schools. It turns out that helping people learn about nature is her favorite job, which is why she is delighted with her role at Seattle Audubon.

Interested in Volunteering?

There are many opportunities to join Seattle Audubon as a volunteer!