Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nintey Years of Birdwatching...

My husband just sent me this article on CNN.com/technology, Ninety years of birdwatchers' notes going online. Written by Azadeh Ansari, the article announces the work of J.A. Loring and 3,000 other citizen scientists:
These note cards -- 6 million of them, spanning almost a century -- contain a trove of invaluable information that could help unravel the effects of climate change on bird behavior.

"This is the longest and most comprehensive legacy data set on bird migration that we know to exist," said Jessica Zelt, who coordinates the North American Bird Phenology Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.
Data in the research will help scientists learn about climate changes and how they are affecting the birds, and may help answer the question I asked in my previous post:
Climate change already has affected bird populations. Birds use temperature as a cue for many life-cycle decisions. They are also at the mercy of weather patterns that can affect biological processes such as when and where they migrate, and when they breed.

"Warmer temperatures will lead to earlier springs, and local plants and insects will come out earlier. However, if bird arrival dates remain the same, then they are potentially at a disadvantage, as the primary food [insects] for their young may no longer be at its peak," said Sam Droege, an ornithologist at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

Habitat loss, pollution, climate change and competition from invasive species have all reduced North American bird populations.

A recent survey, "The U.S. State of Birds," conducted by government agencies, conservation organizations and citizen volunteers, found that nearly a third of the nation's 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in serious decline.
It will be very interesting to read these handwritten notes. They have already scanned 200,000 cards and transcribed more than 17,000. 

7 comments:

Laure Ferlita said...

What an incredible legacy to leave! And thank goodness they've done it! Thanks for sharing.

Warren Baker said...

I think we know the answer to the climate change question already! it would be fascinating to read those cards though!

Shellmo said...

I'm so glad you shared this! Would love to read these cards! I'm so concerned about our birds and wildlife - with climate change and the loss of habitat. We need to take action.

Kallen305 said...

I am so going to have to check this out this weekend when I have time.

Very cool!

Kelly said...

Hi Laure, Warren, Shellye, and Kallen! I'm with you. I love reading old journals, diaries, or letters--anything that records daily events from a time long gone. I think it will be fascinating to read their observations.

Alan said...

Wow! Very interesting...

Kelly said...

...I know Alan! I'm glad Rick sent it to me. I really would like to read these records.