CNN recently published a tantalizing article on the North American Bird Phenology Program, and the unique opportunity it provides to get involved with some Science! with a capital S and an exclamation point.

To quote the project’s web site:
“The North American Bird Phenology Program houses a unique and largely forgotten collection of six million Migration Observer Cards that illuminate migration patterns and population status of birds in North America. These handwritten cards contain almost all of what was known of bird status from the Second World War back to the later part of the 19th century. The bulk of the records are the result of a network of observers who recorded migration arrival dates in the spring and fall that, in its heyday, involved 3000 participants.”

In order to get all that rich, tasty data off of the cards and into a database where it can be more easily accessed, the program is recruiting volunteers. From the comfort of your own home, you too can help convert records from the scanned cards into database-ready chunklets. Or, if you live in the Baltimore/D.C. area, you can pop round the office and help scan the cards, actually handling notes written by hands that observed the mighty migrations of yore.

I mean, tell me, is this not tantalizing? “The collection contains data on about 900 bird species, some of which — the Guadalupe storm-petrel, Labrador duck, Guadalupe caracara, great auk, Carolina parakeet and passenger pigeon — have gone extinct.”

How this ties together with my last post is left as an exercise for the reader.

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