The Edmond Sun

Features

February 11, 2014

Citizen-science project from your own backyard

STILLWATER — Everyone has heard the old adage that fingers alone are weak, but when they make a fist, they become a solid, strong unit. Such is the case, too, when applied to research conducted through the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Initiated in 1999 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, the GBBC is the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and display results instantaneously. It has since hatched into a worldwide data pool of bird population data.

“The point of a citizen-science project like this is that no one checklist is all that important, but a snapshot ofthousands of checklists from all over the world really is crucial,” said Tim O’Connell, associate professor in the department of natural resource ecology and management at Oklahoma State University. “Crowdsourcing biological data like this is a cost-effective and robust way to learn about populations and distributions of wildlife.”

The GBBC asks people from all over the world to submit a checklist of bird species they have identified in a given time, with the minimum relevant time of 15 minutes.

“The GBBC is specifically designed to be as user friendly as possible. If you can use Facebook or have an email account, then you are technologically savvy enough to enter your data for the GBBC,” O’Connell said. “In terms of birding prowess, anyone who is able to identify at least one species of wild bird is enough of a pro to take part.”

There is a button on the data entry form that asks, “Are you submitting a checklist of all the species you were able to identify?” If the answer is “no” then you just click “no.”

“That means you recognized the Blue Jay in your backyard, but you really didn’t know what those little brown birds were so you didn’t report those,” he said.

Last year, GBBC participants from 111 countries counted more than 33 million birds on nearly 138,000 checklists, documenting 4,258 species, which is more than one-third of the world’s bird species.

“Considering just the birds in the U.S., imagine how much it would cost the federal government to hire biologists to survey populations of hundreds of species of wintering birds across the whole country,” O’Connell said.  “Birders do it for free and are happy to share their survey results.”

The collected data are used to help determine priorities for conservation and provide vital information on birds that was lacking before the program started.

“Most of the checklists I plan to submit will come from my cozy, warm living room or while I’m sipping hot tea at my kitchen table,” O’Connell said. “We want data from your literal back yard. That said, you can count birds and report them from anywhere you find them.”

The 2014 GBBC will be conducted from Feb. 14-17. Those interested in participating should visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/ to register an account and get started.

“The GBBC is a fantastic way to get beginners interested in birds, nature and citizenscience,” O’Connell said. “It’s free, super-easy to enter your data, you can do it anywhere in the world and you only need to be able to identify one species for your data to have value.”

1
Text Only
Features
  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff seeks items for agency history project

    If you have historic pictures or artifacts related to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the agency is asking the public to share them.
    “The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working on a history project. If you, your family, friends or acquaintances have any old photos or artifacts related to the OCSO we would love to have them or a digital copy,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.

    April 16, 2014

  • oil infographic[1].png Easy on the coconut oil

    These days, it seems like coconut oil is soaking up credit for its positive affect on a wide range of health conditions. But, still developing science around the popular oil tells a little different story.
    “We know all saturated fats are not created equally, but there’s no evidence that coconut oil is better or healthier than other vegetable oils,” said Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Easter 4e.JPG Moms Club finds Easter fun at Fountains at Canterbury

    The Fountains at Canterbury hosted members of the Moms Club of Edmond-West Tuesday morning for a Easter egg hunt and party complete with a special visit from the Easter Bunny. Residents at the Fountains at Canterbury hid several dozen eggs filled with prizes and candy for the children. The Moms Club of Edmond-West is a nonprofit, local chapter of stay-at-home moms who aim to support each other during the day.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos