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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

 
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VOLUNTEER TRAINING MANUAL

Click for a Printable PDF of the Training Manual

http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/
Phone: (301) 497-5745
Fax: (301) 497-5624
Email: bpp@usgs.gov

Last Updated: February 26, 2013
Orginially Posted: September 24, 2012

United States Geological Survey
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
BARC-East, Bldg. 308- RM 105


Table of Contents

Introduction

Audience
Transcribing Important Facts

Section 1 – The Transcribing Window

Section 2 – Method

2.1 Logging In

2.2 Transcribing Options

2.3 Transcribing Tools

Subsection 2.3.1 The Rotate View Tool
Subsection 2.3.2 The ZoomTool

2.4 Transcribing Migration Cards

Subsection 2.4.1 The Species/Name of Bird area
Subsection 2.4.2 The Location area
Subsection 2.4.3 The Observer area
Subsection 2.4.4 The Event Observation Data area
Subsection 2.4.5 The Additional Notes area

2.5 Submitting Migration Cards

2.6 Logging Off

Section 3 – Troubleshooting (Coming Soon!)

Appendix 1: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Appendix 2: Species Table- Look-up species common name, scientific name, AOU number, or ALPHA code.

Appendix 3: Bird Observer List (Updated 2/16/12): Look-up observer names and locations

Appendix 4: Training Videos (Updated 1/30/13): Learn how to subscribe to newsletters, log-in to our transcription system and transcribe migration cards through easy to view videos

Introduction

The North American Bird Phenology Program, part of the USA-National Phenology Network, was a network of volunteer observers who recorded information on first arrival dates, maximum abundance, and departure dates of migratory birds across North America. Active between 1880 and 1970, the program was coordinated by the Federal government and sponsored by the American Ornithologists' Union.  It exists now as a historic collection of six million migration card observations, illuminating almost a century of migration patterns and population status of birds. Today, in an innovative project to curate the data and make them publically available, the records are being scanned and placed on the internet, where volunteers worldwide transcribe these records and add them into a database for analysis.

Audience

This document was developed to help volunteers of all ages to participate with the Bird Phenology Project.

Transcribing Important Facts

  • To transcribe migration cards from home, please complete simple registration form found at: https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BPP/v4/Register2.cfm.
  • Please remember to transcribe exactly what you see! Do not correct observer names, bird species, spelling, punctuation or modernize words.
  • There are several ways to take part with the BPP! Historical migration cards are currently being scanned and are available on the BPP website. You can become one of the many volunteers from around the world to sign onto our site and transcribe these records for our database. Also, if you live in the Baltimore-Washington area and would like to volunteer in the BPP office we welcome you to come and take part in this program.
  • Each migration card is entered twice by different people to insure quality control. The two records are compared, if they match, the data is sent into the database, if the data does not match, it stays in the system for a third transcription.
  • Please skip any fields where the information is not provided.
  • Please do share your questions and suggestions with the BPP! Contact us at bpp@usgs.gov.

Section 1 – The Transcribing Window

There are 7 main areas in your transcribing window:        

  1. Top menu bar

  • Prev (previous) and Next buttons to navigate between migration cards
  • Help button to reach the FAQ section
  • My Stats button to review the statistics of your current transcribing session
  • Filter drop down menu to select a bird species or location
  • Logout button to exit the application
  1. Species/Name of Bird area

  • Common or Scientific Name text box to enter the common name or scientific name of the bird
  • AOU Number text box to enter the American Ornithologists' Union or AOU number (three-digit number, uncommonly four-digit with a decimal point)
  1. Location area

  • Country drop down menu to select the country in which the observation was made
  • State/Province drop down menu to select the U.S. states or Canadian provinces in which the observation was made
  • County/Parish text box to enter the county or parish in which the observation was made
  • City/Town text box to enter the city or town in which the observation was made
  1. Observer area

  • Observer Name text box to enter the name of the observer

 

  1. Migration card area

  • Window for the current migration card that you should be transcribing
  1. Event Observation Data area

  • Reference Year text box to enter the year when the observation was made
  • Event month drop down menu, Day text box and No. of Birds text box to enter/select:
    • First Arrival; when the bird(s) was first seen
    • Next Seen; when the bird(s) was seen next
    • Most Common; when the bird(s) was most common
    • Last Seen: when the bird(s) was last seen
  • Breeds? Radio buttons to select if the birds(s) are noted as breeding
  • Overwinters? Radio buttons to select if the birds(s) are noted as overwintering
  1. Additional Notes area

 

  • Observer Notes text box to enter all other pertinent information
  • Problem with Card? drop down menu to select an error with your card and text box to describe the problem
  • Submit button to send your card to the BPP

Section 2 – Method

2.1 Logging In

Using your Internet browser, please go to https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/. On the top menu, go to Participants and scroll down to V4 Data Entry.  

  • Enter in your username (the email address you used to register and password details and click on the login button.
  • Please note that we cannot reset your password at this time. If you lose your password, please register again.

2.2 Transcribing Options

Once logged-in, a migration card will appear in your transcribing window. You have three options available to you:

  1. Start transcribing the card that is offered to you.
  1. Select a specific species to transcribe using the first filter drop down menu in the top menu bar. Once the species selected, all subsequent cards that will appear in the transcribing window will be of the species you selected.
  1. Select a specific location to transcribe using the second filter drop down menu in the top menu bar. Once the location selected, all subsequent cards that will appear in the transcribing window will be of the location you selected.

If you choose the first option, please start transcribing the information you see in the transcribing window.
If you choose the second or third option, please select a species or location of your choice by selecting the appropriate filter drop down menu as shown below:


2.3 Transcribing Tools

2.3.1 The Rotate View Tool
If your migration card is presented to you upside down, you can click on the rotate button  to turn the card around in the correct orientation.


2.3.2 The Zoom Tool

You can also mouse over (use your mouse pointer over an object) the migration card to zoom an area of the card.

In the example below, the zoom tool was used to take a better look at the reference year.


2.4 Transcribing Migration Cards

2.4.1 The Species/Name of Bird area

Start transcribing by entering the appropriate information in the Species/Name of Bird area.

  1. Enter the common or scientific name written on the migration card in the Common or Scientific Name text box. Please transcribe exactly what you see, without correcting name spelling, punctuation or updating the species name with new revised scientific or common names.        
  1. Enter the AOU (American Ornithologist Union) written on the migration card in the AOW Number text box. Generally, the AOU number will be indicated on the top left of the migration card.

2.4.2 The Location area

Transcribe the appropriate information in theLocation area.

  1. Select the country in which the observation was made by selecting the appropriate country in the Country drop down menu.
  1. Select the U.S. states or Canadian provinces in which the observation was made by selecting the appropriate State or Province in the State/Province drop down menu.
  1. If available, enter the county or parish information in the County/Parish text box. If you have any location information that you feel does not fit into either category, please transcribe it into the City/Town text box below.
  1. Enter the city or town in which the observation was made in the City/Town text box.

Transcribing Note:

If you are unsure of a location, you can use various websites to research the location. A few examples are:

  1. USGS Geographic Name Information System (GNIS) http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic 
  1. Google maps https://maps.google.com/ 
  1. TerraServer http://www.terraserver.com/ 
  1. PlaceNames.com http://www.placenames.com/ 

2.4.3 The Observer area

Transcribe the appropriate information in the Observer area.

  1. Enter the observer name written on the migration card in the Observer text box. Please transcribe exactly what you see, without correcting observer names, including spelling and punctuation.

Transcribing Note:

The location of the observer name can vary. It is most commonly found on the middle top of the migration card, in a form or at the bottom of a Field Report File. The name can contain a prefixes, first, middle and last name or any combination of these. Please write exactly what you see.

2.4.4 The Event Observation Data area

Transcribing the event observation data can be a bit more involved than the rest of the data in the transcribing window. Each observer can provide the information in various ways. The following section will provide you with examples on how to fill-out this area.

  1. First, enter the year when the observation was made in the Reference Year text box. This information is generally found following an; written by hand in the middle of the migration card (See example 1 below). Please keep in mind that this information can be provided in a form (See example 2 below) or written out in a Field Report File (See example 3 below).

It is important to note that the BPP only accepted records from 1880 to 1970. So, if the card says '80 to '99, you know it is 1880 to 1899. If the card is '00 to '70, it is 1900 to 1970. The year generally appears after the observation data information.

  1. Next, enter the month, day, and number of birds seen on the first day by using the First Arrival drop down menu to select the month. Next, enter the day and number of bird first seen in the No. of Birds text box.
  1. Following the same process as before, enter the month, day, and number of birds next seen using the Next Seen drop down menu and text boxes, the month, day, and number of birds where they were most common using the Most Common drop down menu and text boxes and the month, day, and number of birds last seen using the Last Seen drop down menu and text boxes.

Example 1 – Date Information Written by Hand

Transcribing Note:

In the example above, the observer only provides the information when the bird was first seen. In this case, you would transcribe this information and skip over the fields associated with Next Seen, Most Common, and Last Seen observations. If you are provided with additional information, please enter the information given to you in the appropriate fields.


Example 2 – Date Information within a Form

Transcribing Note:

In the example above, the observer provides all the information. In this case, you would transcribe all the date information in the First Arrival, Next Seen, Most Common and Last Seen fields. Note the reference year at the top right of the card.

Example 3 – Date Information within a Field Report File

Transcribing Note:

In the example above, the observer provides the dates of his or her field trip. In this case, you would transcribe the first date using the First Arrival fields and the second date using the Last Seen fields. The Next Seen and Most Common fields are skipped. Note that the reference year is given to you at the end of the field trip dates.

  1. Next, select the Yes, No or Unknown radio button  next to Breeds? according to the information provided to you on the migration card. Please note that the Unknown radio button will always be selected as the default. If you do not see any breeding information on the card, just leave the Unknown radio button selected.

  1. Next, select the Yes, No or Unknown radio button  next to Overwinters? according to the information provided to you on the migration card. Please note that the Unknown radio button will always be selected as the default. If you do not see any overwintering information on the card, just leave the Unknown radio button selected.

  1. Lastly, select the appropriate word in the Commonness? Drop down menu that represents the commonness of the bird(s). Your options are Not Given, Abundant, Common, Fairly Common, Tolerably Common, Uncommon and rare. Most of the times, migration cards will have the exact words provided. At times, however, these words will be abbreviated or slightly different. If you are uncertain of a commonness value, please note card as a problem card (See subsection 2.4.5 below).

The commonness of a species refers to its frequent occurrence in a particular area. Leave the default selection of Not Given if not information about commonness is provided.


2.4.5 The Additional Notes area

This section allows you to report any information provided by the observer that does not fit into any category above as well as report any issues with the migration card to BPP staff.

  1. First, write in the Additional Notes text box all the other information provided in the migration card that you have not already entered in the other fields. There is one exception here, when transcribing a Field Report File, please transcribe ALL information found on the card as it is written.
  1. If necessary, you can report a problem with a migration card using the Problem with Card? text box. The options available to you are: Card damaged, Card all/partially unreadable, Not a Migration card and Other.

2.5 Submitting Migration Cards

When you have completed transcribing all the information on the migration card, you can submit your data to BPP staff by clicking on the submit button at the bottom left of the window.

2.6 Logging Off

Once you are done with your current transcribing session, you can click on the logout button to log out or disconnect from the BPP database.

Section 3. Troubleshooting (Coming Soon!)

Appendix 1: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Appendix 2: Species Table- Look-up species common name, scientific name, AOU number, or ALPHA code.

Appendix 3: Bird Observer List (updated 12/02/2013): Look-up observer names and locations (Excel File) (PDF File)

 

Click for a Printable PDF of the Training Manual

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