USGS PWRC - Bird Phenology Program

Project name: Global Biodiversity Information Facility datasets

Dataset summary : 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 publically 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. From the close of the program in 1970 Chan Robbins continued to make sure the records were kept safe. In 2008, Sam Droege and Jessica Zelt, with help from the National Phenology Network revived the migration program and dubbed it the North American Bird Phenology Program. The program that started as Wells Cooke’s research in the Mississippi Valley and grew through the help of the American Ornithologist Union to become the Division of Economic Ornithology would later become the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The records are now being digitized and with help from citizen scientists the information will be combined in an online database accessible to the public. What began as a quest to find out how and why birds migrate, turned into one of our Nations greatest and longest running programs.