Did you know that you can help transcribe bird migration reports for the USGS North American Bird Phenology Program? My first question was, “What the heck is phenology?”

According to Dictionary.com:

phe⋅nol⋅o⋅gy

-noun

the science dealing with the influence of climate on the recurrence of such annual phenomena of animal and plant life as budding and bird migrations.

The US and Canada collected bird observation reports from citizens and scientists from the 1880′s through the 1970′s. They have file cabinets upon file cabinets full of index card-sized notes. How many do you think they have? 1 Million? 2 Million? Nope, they have SIX million cards! Think of the importance and impact of such a huge collection of data! Here’s the thing: all of those cards need to be looked at by human eyes and typed (transcribed) into a database so that the data can be used.

This is where we all come in. I have spent several hours transcribing scanned images of these cards so far, and it has been really fun. I have seen many cards from the 1880′s and 1890′s, and several Field Reports from scientists. These cards offer a glimpse of a moment in time, when someone cared enough to report the birds they saw, when they saw them, and other pertinent facts. Sound familiar? (eBird, etc)

Here’s a screen-shot from the website where you can help with the transcribing:

You can do as little or as much as you like, and simply skip the cards you can’t read. You register with your name and email address once, and after that you just log in and go. They even have training videos to show you how to read the cards!

I’m signing off – time to go transcribe!

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