Last year brought disturbing news about the number of birds declining in North America, dropping almost 30% over the last 50 years. Much of the data behind this science came from ordinary people who spent their spare time observing birds. This same data, however, has helped shape and measure the results from successful conservation efforts that offer hope for the future. We know conservation efforts work, and future efforts will require getting even more people involved in citizen science.
Nature enthusiasts, including bird watchers, have contributed much to what we now know about birds. Individual birders keep checklists, whether on a bird walk or simply observing birds at their backyard feeders. When aggregated, these individual checklists help wildlife biologists study bird behavior and trends in population levels, helping to identify where conservation efforts can have the greatest impact.
Starting this year, Maryland will kick off a 5-year effort to document where birds breed throughout the state. It is called the Breeding Bird Atlas and has been conducted twice before. The first was carried out from 1983-1987, and the second from 2002-2006. Birders at all skill levels will take to the field to observe birds, trying to determine if they are breeding in specific locations. Their observations will be fed into a database to see how birds are faring on the Eastern Shore and throughout Maryland.
If you would like to help out, or just find out more, contact me at the Talbot County Bird Club (email@example.com). Participating in the Breeding Bird Atlas is a great way to learn more about birds, enjoy the outdoors, and stay positive about the future by contributing to conservation efforts.
Talbot County Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator