Over the last century, California's Central Valley has lost 95% of the wetlands habitat, which is needed for the shorebirds while on their migration. The solution involves big data, binoculars and rice paddies. The Nature Conservancy of California has in innovated program called Bird Returns that works with rice farmers to create temporary wetlands just during the weeks that they are needed.
The Nature Conservancy works closely with two other organizations, who are using NASA data to enable the program. Point Blue Conservation Science is using data from the NASA/USGS Landsat satellite to map surface water in the Central Valley and determine the likelihood a given spot will have water any given month. And the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is using data from Landsat and NASA’s MODIS instrument to expand their network of citizen science observations. With the NASA data, the Cornell Lab is able to take individual bird observations and predict how abundant a given bird species will be at another location.