From the late 1880s through 1970, 3,000 citizen scientist birders were out and about gathering data on migrating bird spring arrival and departure dates as well as collecting other field observations. This is not too unlike the current Loudoun County Bird Atlas that we’re leading, except that we don’t quite have 3,000 volunteers (yet 🙂 …we could use some more help!).
Anyway, over those 90 years, a huge amount of information was gathered. As the effort petterd out, the data was largely forgotten, with the notecards being stored in attics and basements. But what could all this data, a look back into our own not too distant past, tell us about species distributions, species abundance, migration periods, bird behavior, climate change? Possibly, a lot.
Fast forward to this past February……the North American Bird Phenology Program was reinvigorated by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. This program is an effort to input all of the data on these cards into an online data repository, using people from all over the world to digitize and enter the data! You can help with this effort by checking out their website. As you check out their data from days gone by, you can also volunteer with one of our current LWC citizen science efforts here locally. The data we gather is not only important today but can also be used by generations to come!