Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Citizen science and the road less traveled

Birding can be of great assistance to conservation when the birder is a responsible and conscientious observer. This includes carefully recording all of the birds they see at every location they visit, the approximate distance they traveled, the time they take, and at least relatively accurate numbers of the birds of each species they identify. These types of citizen science surveys can enhance the more exhaustive, extensive, and detailed work done by organizations like Connecticut Audubon Society across the state. Of course, this information cannot help if it is not properly disseminated and examined. If these detailed notes are sitting in a book in an attic somewhere, it will not help conservation because we will never know about it.

Do you know of or possess such data you would like to share with us? We always appreciate it, whether it is 100 years old or from 2011, and it helps the birds of Connecticut and our natural world immensely. The best way for you to share that with us would be entering it yourself into eBird.org, but if you cannot do so, we can discuss other options. All of this came to mind after we received a wonderful box of journals full of carefully taken notes from a long-time Connecticut birder. It is a glimpse into a state much unlike our own in the current day.

In a somewhat similar citizen science birding survey sort of topic, I wanted to mention this eBird article: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/data_gaps_Jan_2012

Team eBird had a wonderful idea and filled in a map for every state at the county level with eBird data density levels to see how many checklists are submitted. It is a quick and easy way to see what areas are heavily birded and which are not. Very populated areas are well covered and, unlike parts of the Great Plains where there is little or no data whatsoever, Connecticut is no exception, as you can see in these maps of each state.

With that said, Windham County needs some help! If you are a birder in the area or simply want a good excuse to get out into the field, take a trip to the northeast part of the state. My suggestion would be to visit our Grassland Bird Conservation Center in Pomfret and its 700-acre Bafflin Sanctuary. Twan and I have been working on some of the data for it recently, and I noticed our total there went over 200 bird species already with limited survey efforts. It has some incredible birds that are often uncommon or rare elsewhere in the state. Please go discover them, tell us about your trip, and share your data with us on the Center's site on eBird!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

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