These data are an almost complete record of bird sightings prior to the 1920's. Many of these records have never made it into published accounts. We are waiting for some heroic figure to come out to Patuxent and begin the long, but rewarding, job of transcribing some of these data to a database.
To arrange a visit or for further information contact Chan Robbins Chan_Robbins@usgs.gov 301-497-5641. Anyone interested in puttting these data into a database can contact Sam Droege at 301-497-5840.
Lighthouse keepers, being regular joes, kept that data, but being rather untrained in ornithological observation and nomenclature, returned results often difficult to interpret. Some keepers claimed that no birds struck the light and also wrote back saying the whole thing was a big waste of their time. Others recorded extensive observerations of sea robins, mother-careys chickens, black sea duckes, bee martins, and other local and often ambiguous names.
Tucked in with the lighthouse data are stored the corresponse of the many private individuals and ornithologists who wrote in to the AOU Committee with reports and observations of birds. These data, and the notes by Bureau bioligists, form the baseline for North American knowledge about the migration, abundance, and distribution of birds.
These data are now safely, but obscurely, stored at the Philadelphia branch of the National Archives. They are contained within 95 boxes and stored in Lot 22. I currently can't seem to find the name or number of the curator. If anyone locates the proper contact please email me Sam Droege so that I can add them to this site. Additional historical links, information, and corrections are welcome.
For access and more information about these data you can call Matt Perry email@example.com at 301-497-5622.
No one scheme exists for all of North America. Most Canadian provinces collect and maintain their own data. In the U.S. the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has been collecting cards since 1965. The Lab of Ornithology has collected over 300,000 records for the U.S. and Canada and continues to accept new cards and fill data requests. However, the project if not funded and is currently maintained only in the spare time of Labratory ornithologists. The plan is to at some point seek funding for revising and computerizing scheme. At present 20-30 % of the cards are computerized (for the most common species).
In Ontario:Ross James