The following is taken from the National Biological Information Infrastructure’s Spring 2005 newsletter:
It’s Easier Than Ever to Follow the Birds
A bird field guide will tell you, with tiny maps, where the birds are. But can you say for certain whether the magnolia warbler has built its nest in your neighborhood? Or whether that red-tailed hawk nest in the neighbor’s sycamore is unusual?
In 2005, the NBII Bird Conservation Node continues to support the development of Web sites, tools, and applications that increase access to data on North American birds and facilitate integration of the data across geographic scales. Earlier this year, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center made available online the North American Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) Viewer (http://mbirdims.fws.gov/nbii_bba) and BBA Explorer (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bba/), providing access to results from multiple state and provincial Breeding Bird Atlas projects. These atlases are population surveys that assess the distribution of breeding birds based on a “block” system, with blocks about 2-3 miles on a side.
To discover whether a species nests in your local area, a breeding bird atlas is often the best source of information. If you don’t own the published atlas or want to look at data from multiple atlas projects, you now have help. The BBA Viewer is a mapping application that allows users to map species results from multiple Breeding Bird Atlases in North America for the first time. In addition to these maps, the BBA Explorer Web site allows users to learn about methods used in each Breeding Bird Atlas project, and to retrieve Atlas project results in a tabular form by species, block, or region (e.g., by county). These tools are part of a suite of tools, including BBA Manager, facilitating data management and display of BBA results, from data entry by Atlas volunteers to review by Atlas project coordinator to display of final results in maps or tables.
The online tools are intended to complement the final publications themselves (which provide informative analyses and discussion) and, as of May 2005, the BBA tools contained data for 16 states and one Canadian province. Additional states have expressed interest in participating in this effort to develop a continental repository for Breeding Bird Atlases in North America that increasingly could serve as a resource for regional and national bird conservation planning and evaluation.
Also made available online earlier in 2005 by the Institute for Bird Populations is an update to the Avian Demographics Query Interface (http://www.birdpop.org/nbii/NBIIHome.asp), a data retrieval Web site providing bird population demographic results from the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship Program. Updated survival rate estimates and productivity indices based on ten years (1992-2001) of bird banding data are now available online for more than 150 species of North American landbirds. These landbird demographic results can be retrieved via the Avian Demographics Query Interface by species and region -- and are a useful information resource that is not available elsewhere.