Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Make Your Counting Count

The World Series of Birding is a very special event, as it offers a wonderful opportunity to get together with your fellow birders and have a great day out in the field - manic, yes - but awesome fun too. Then there's the brunch and awards ceremony the next day which gives us all a chance to hear how it went for everyone else - and to find out who won! For CMBO it's a very special event too, as it raises a lot of money which allows us to continue ongoing research and study into the region's birds and other wildlife and helps our education programs in the region too. So let's make this year's WSB a special event in a third way too - Christina Kisiel explains here how we really need you to forward your WSB findings after the event, to help those charged with protecting our endangered species:

Hey everyone! Christina Kisiel here, your friendly endangered and nongame state biologist, guest posting today to make a plea on behalf of NJ’s species of conservation concern. I work for the Department of Environmental Protection – Division of Fish and Wildlife –Endangered and Nongame Species Program (you know how the government loves to keep it simple- you can call it DEPDFWENSP for short, lol). In addition to the management and research that we do for the state’s threatened and endangered (T/E) species, we also are keepers of distribution data for these species. The data we collect are entered into our Biotics database and eventually makes its way our Landscape Project (LP). Detailed information about The Landscape Project can be found here but let me give you the CliffsNotes version. LP is the tool that we use to graphically represent the locations of species of conservation concern throughout the state. The maps that are generated through LP allow us to protect habitat through permits (it acts as a screening tool and allows regulators to address T/E concerns OR help developers avoid critter-heavy areas during planning stages), can help land trusts determine which properties to acquire (“Ohh, look how many T/E’s on this site! Buy it!”) and assist environmental commissions in managing habitat on a local scale. Of course, much of this data is sensitive (i.e. could be used to help poachers hone in on their targets) and care has been taken to protect the habitat while “hiding” the exact locations of the species, so fear not - your data would not be used against the species.

But everyone knows a map is only as good as the data that built it. I am very proud to say that the LP is one of the best conservation tools in our arsenal. Our staff has dedicated considerable effort to ensuring that it is populated with as much verified and reliable data as we have. Data makes its way into LP in a few ways – it can be from staff members who input information from their own projects but also can be from the public, who vastly outnumber our staff members in bodies and area they can cover. It is because of the exceptional members of the bird-loving public (who I might add are among the finest looking and intelligent folks out there) that we have learned about countless nesting areas, foraging locations and roost spots (two-points if you guess where I am going here).

As you are out scouring the birdiest sites in the state this week, please consider passing some of that information on to the state. The list of species we are most interested in (due to a combination of their conservation status and the lack of widespread information we currently have for them) can be found below and the report form can be found here. The contributions that you can make with this information are immeasurable – in addition to helping you raise thousands of dollars on the Big Day for conservation causes, you can help NJ’s biologists do a better job of mapping species and ultimately protecting the habitat they rely on to prosper in our delightful little corner of the planet. If you have any questions or comments regarding the submission of data, please feel free to contact me at ckisiel@hughes.net.

Good luck this week WSBers! Thank you in advance for embracing the generous spirit common to birders and sharing the gift of your knowledge with us!

List of Species for which data is especially required: 
Blue-winged Teal
Hooded Merganser
Northern Bobwhite
Pied-billed Grebe
American Bittern
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
American Kestrel
Black Rail
King Rail
Virginia Rail
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Spotted Sandpiper
Upland Sandpiper
Wilson's Snipe
Caspian Tern
Black-billed Cuckoo
Barn Owl
Long-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Red-headed Woodpecker
Sedge Wren
Brown Thrasher
Golden-winged Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Grasshopper Sparrow
Henslow's Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark

No comments: