Friday, February 20, 2009

North American Bird Phenology Program

This just in, from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center:

North American Bird Phenology Program
After much anticipation, we are excited to announce the launch of The North American Bird Phenology Program (BPP) online data entry system! Through this new online program, volunteers from around the world can register on the website and begin transcribing historical bird arrival records into our online database which were originally scanned in the BPP office.

What is the BPP?
The BPP is working to understand the scale of global climate change and how it is affecting birds across North America. This is the oldest and longest running bird monitoring program in the country, currently housing six million records dating back to the early 1880's. The program, started in 1880 by Wells W. Cooke, collected bird observations by over 3,000 citizen scientists and came to an end in 1970, until we revived the program during the last year. The records document bird migration arrival and departure dates from around North America; an unparalleled and untapped resource, but one in which we need your help to modernize.

How can you get involved?
The BPP relies solely on volunteers to scan images of the migration cards and transcribe them into our database. We accept participants from all ages and backgrounds. AND you can participate from the comfort of your own home! We need your help!

Online participants must register online. There you can learn more about the transcription process and register to become a transcriber. After you register, you will receive a confirmation email which will then take you through a 15 minute training video and back to the website to begin transcription.

Also, If you are in the Baltimore-Washington area and would like to help
the crew of volunteers in the BPP office to help with scanning and working with the historic files we welcome you to come and take part in this program. We even have Saturday hours!

Individuals, families, and small groups are welcome to help so if you are interested in helping discover how spring and fall arrival times of birds have changed since the 1880's, and I hope you are, please visit us on the web or call (301) 487-5745.

Birders are well aware of the stories being told from long-running projects like the North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count, who knows what tales are documented in these cards. It's a good bet there are a myriad of interesting trends buried here that will come to light once everything is digitized, please volunteer if you can!


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