Phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, or phenophases, such as leafing and flowering of plants, maturation of agricultural crops, emergence of insects, and migration of birds. Many of these events are sensitive to climatic variation and change, and are simple to observe and record.
The North American Bird Phenology Program, part of the USA-National Phenology Network, was a network of volunteer observers who recorded information on first arrival dates, maximum abundance, and departure dates of migratory birds across North America. Active between 1880 and 1970, the program was coordinated by the Federal government and sponsored by the American Ornithologists’ Union. It exists now as a historic collection of six million migration card observations, illuminating almost a century of migration patterns and population status of birds. Today, in an innovative project to curate the data and make them publicly available, the records are being scanned and placed on the internet, where volunteers worldwide transcribe these records and add them into a database for analysis.
You can become one of the many volunteers from around the country to sign into the site and convert these files into the database. Once cards are transcribed into the database the information can be analyzed, revealing changes in migratory bird patterns.
Visit www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/ for complete details and to sign up as a transcriber.