Secrets hidden in more than 300,000 index cards with hand-written information about nesting birds are gradually being revealed. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is partnering with Zooniverse, an online people-powered research tool, to digitize this valuable collection and create the largest database of nesting bird information in the U.S. This new effort is called “Nest Quest Go!”
In an announcement of the effort sent to the press, Nest Quest Go! leader Becca Rodomsky-Bish said: “The Cornell Lab collected the hand-written cards for its North American Nest Record Card Program from everyday people. This was one of the Lab’s first citizen-science projects, running from the 1960s to the early 2000s. The challenge has been to get all that information transcribed so it can be used in this era of the Internet and Big Data.”
Data on egg-laying dates, hatching rates, fledging success, and brood size is being merged with the Lab’s NestWatch citizen-science project to create what is believed to be the largest continuous database of nesting bird information in the United States.
Anyone who has access to a computer or smartphone can help with the digitizing project which is expected to take several years. Cards are being transcribed species by species, with nuthatches and Mountain Bluebirds coming soon. All active species projects can be viewed on the Nest Quest Go! organization page.
Photo of Blue Jay by David Magers.