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Avian disasters underscore the need for baseline monitoring of "Common Birds"

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  • Brian Sullivan
    Birders 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2006

      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
      Photographic Editor,
      Birds of North America Online
      Cornell Lab of Ornithology
      159 Sapsucker Woods Rd.
      Ithaca, NY 14850

      Photographic Editor,
      North American Birds
      American Birding Association


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