Avian disasters underscore the need for baseline monitoring of "Common Birds"
This truly is a sad state of affairs. I agree with Kimball that the
perpetrators of the tern colony disaster probably didn't know any better,
although that doesn't make a bit of difference in my opinion. I just
dealt with a similar set of circumstances when my local middle school in
Carmel hosed a colony of 100 nesting pairs of Cliff Swallows mid-nesting
cycle! Appalling I know, but I contacted the Feds and I had the
observational data to back up my claims. Don't know if it'll do any good
but at least it's something.
This does cause me to reiterate something I've said in previous posts.
Birders are a potentially valuable monitoring tool, especially if they
combine forces and contribute data to a collective archive like eBird.
Every time birders go into the field they are gathering useful data, and
quite possibly gathering data that are overlooked by targeted scientific
research. By gathering and archiving this type of baseline data we can
effectively build a foundation upon which legal action can be taken in
cases like this. Legislators have little ground to stand on if all they
have is anecdotal evidence of the past presence of birds. But with data
collected over time and warehoused in a central repository we'll be armed
with the baseline data potentially needed in future cases. Unfortunately
there's no way we'll know when and where some catastrophe like this might
take place, thus it's up to us to record the birds we see at all times,
and make it part of the permanent archive. I like to call it
"Preconservation." The combined efforts of birders cover a large
geographic scale--and often represent the regions neglected by targeted
research. In any case, just another reason to make your data part of the
eBird database--or part of any other database that makes your observations
available to science and conservation.
Whether these data end up in your notebooks or in a database somewhere is
up to you, but I just thought I'd point out how contributing your data
might make a difference in the future.
Brian L. Sullivan
eBird Project Leader
Birds of North America Online
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
North American Birds
American Birding Association
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