Oil Spill Response: One Way Birders Can Help

Oil Spill Response: One Way Birders Can Help

Susan Cosier
Published: 05/06/2010

Brown Pelican, Sanibel Is., Florida. Photograph by W.H. Majoros courtesy of eBird
Volunteers looking for a way to help birds that could be affected by the disastrous oil spill have a new way to provide information valuable to response and recovery efforts: eBird.
 
Audubon teamed up with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the pair is asking citizens to report what they see on the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.
 
“We encourage birders along the Gulf coast to record their observations of birds submit this information to www.ebird.org, a real-time, online checklist program. This vital documentation of the location and abundance of birds will help us identify high priority areas for protection and restoration as the oil comes ashore. Documenting site use by birds as the situation evolves will also help Audubon and Cornell scientists assess the effects of this spill on Gulf coast habitat. This is critical to providing a sound foundation for restoration and long-term protection,” Audubon’s press release reads.
 
The scientists caution that volunteers shouldn’t disturb habitat or nesting areas.
 
“Originally conceived as a citizen science project, eBird was started in 2002 as a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Its aim was to provide birders across the country with a way of storing their checklists and accessing others’; as an added benefit, they would be able to see their data represented in graphs and maps. Each checklist would record the date, time of day, location, and kind and numbers of birds seen, as well as whether the observer was traveling or stationary. The entries would be then added to a larger database the Cornell Lab uses to track migrations, distributions, and abundance of bird species by region, as well as other features, including rare bird sightings,” Audubon wrote (March-April 2009).
 
Sign up here and start recording what you see.