Friday, February 20, 2009

North American Bird Phenology Program

The North American Bird Phenology Program (NABPP) has been launched by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

NABPP consists of approximately 6 million 3x5 index cards (known as Migration Observer Cards) containing information on arrival and departure dates of nearly 900 species of birds gathered by 3,000 volunteers over a span of 90 years (1881-1970).

Initiated by Wells W. Cooke (.pdf), who was honored upon his death as America's "foremost student of bird migration," this data set provides an unparalleled opportunity for researchers to investigate what effect, if any, climate change has had on the movements and seasonal status of migratory birds in North America.

The success of the program depends on the recruitment of a cadre of volunteers to transcribe the information from the index cards into an online database. This can be done from the comfort and convenience of your PC or laptop. Here's your chance to take part in history. Help make the information stored all these years on those dusty index cards come to life.

Registration is quick and easy. You’ll be asked to download and watch a 15-minute video that describes the various types of information contained on the cards and how to interpret it. After that, you’ll be ready to start transcribing!

Elsewhere, NABP has been reviewed by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and was the focus of this feature story.

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