Skip navigation

Getting Started

What's it all about?

The Fairbanks Museum Community of Observers provides the tools to help you – or your group – record what you see and hear. We’ll create maps with the information you provide that show the characteristics of your area through wildflowers, birds, butterflies and weather patterns.

The birds, butterflies, wildflowers and weather events in this program are potential indicators of change. You can choose to pay attention to one specific category -- weather or wildflowers -- or to record what you observe in several categories. Each and every observation contributes to a better understanding of our ecosystems.

Who can be an Observer?

The Community of Observers is for anyone who is curious about how our landscape and natural communities are affected by global climate change. If you are just beginning, we'll provide tools to help you get started. If you are more experienced, we hope you'll contribute actively and link with other observation databases. Your questions and comments on the Observer Forum will guide our discussions and inform future field programs.

What are we watching?



Our weather is defined by moisture, pressure, wind and temperature. Learning to read the clouds will lead to a deeper understanding of weather patterns and seasonal cycles. Clouds and atmospheric phenomena can be observed any time, any place. As you observe them, take note of what accompanies a cloud formation–heavy winds or a sudden change in temperature might have a connection with what you observe overhead.



Observing birds is a wonderful way to deepen your understanding of the natural world. Birds are the most visible forms of wildlife in northern New England. They are active, colorful, and (mostly) diurnal. By monitoring changes in the populations and distribution of these 15 species, you contribute to a deeper understanding of how they are also indicators of environmental change. Taking note of where and when you spot a particular bird establishes a record of its habits over time.



The 12 butterflies in our study were chosen because of their flight season, their habitat preference, their frequency of appearance, or their expected occurrence. A few may be difficult to find or identify; others will be easy to spot. Learning their distinctive species habits will help in locating them. Butterflies respond to weather conditions and rely on plants for food; they are extremely sensitive to environmental change. One tip: don’t let the butterfly see your shadow or it will fly off!



These 25 wildflowers bloom from April into September. Some are native, some are introduced, some are invasive. Some require that you go looking for them because they’re hiding in the woods. Others require you to merely slow down as you drive by to make an accurate identification. All are fascinating and sensitive to environmental change.

Let’s get started!

© 2011–2018 Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium. 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT. 802-748-2372.