BPP • E-Newsletter • April 2009

Contact the BPP:

Jessica Zelt

Patuxent Wildlife
Research Center
10300 Baltimore Avenue
Beltsville, MD 20705

Phone: (301) 497-5745
Fax: (301) 497-5624
E-mail: jzelt@usgs.gov

Visit the BPP:


Understanding global climate change and how it is affecting bird
populations across North America


The North American Bird Phenology Program (BPP) has been steadily climbing in our numbers of online participants and transcriptions completed online. I am very proud to announce our current progress:

  • Migration Cards Scanned in the BPP Office: 243,700
  • Migration Cards Currently Available Online: 199,560
  • Migration Cards Transcribed Online: 69,700
  • Number of Online Transcribers: 1,240

In our continual efforts to update the program to become more user-friendly and also in response to participant feedback, we have made several changes to our Data Entry Login interface.
The new interface can be accessed at: https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BPP/transcription_mainv2.html. I have also added a link to our updated version on the website’s left hand menu, titled “NEW! Data Entry Login v2 Beta.” I ask everyone to try using the new version and send in feedback on how you like it, if you are running into any problems, or if you have additional suggestions. After some testing, we will set the new version as the default on the Data Entry Login page. Thank you in advance for your help!

The new interface has the following changes:

  • Admonition to TRANSCRIBE ONLY WHAT YOU SEE ON THE CARD appears at the top of the screen
  • Compact form preserves large card size. No need to keep resizing screen.
  • Larger fields for Observer Notes and Transcriber Comments
  • The Enter key no longer submits the form. Click on the Submit button to submit the form (and see below for an alternate method to submit without clicking.)
  • The Backspace key no longer causes the previous page to be loaded.
  • Month reminder numbers in the month drop-down lists.
  • Fields on the form are now all tab indexed, meaning that you can use the tab key to jump from one field to the next.
    Use the keyboard shortcuts to keep your fingers on the keyboard for maximum speed:
                    In drop-down lists, type the first letter to get to the value you want. If it's not the right value, keep putting in the same letter. (For example, in month drop-down lists, J gives January first. Next J gives June, Next J gives July)
                    In the Breeds? and Overwinters? fields, keep hitting tab until the value you want is highlighted, then hit the space bar to select it.
                    When you are finished entering information, keep hitting the tab key until the Submit button is highlighted, then hit the space bar to Submit the form.
                    Miss something? Shift-Tab backs up one field at a time.
  • Compact statistics bar chart in the navigation panel. Uses a logarithmic scale which starts a 0 on the left and goes all the way to 6,000,000 on the right. Hover over each of the segments on the horizontal bar to get the values. Updated from the database at the start of each session.
  • Goes to thank you page at the end of the session.
  • Both the FAQ Sheet and training video will be accessible both before and after you sign-in

With the diligent work of Kevin Laurent, our computer expert, and Kinard Boone, our website designer, and Eric Tuner our volunteer programmer, we are continuing to make additions and revisions to both the data entry process and website. Please see below to check out what we are working on and email me at jzelt@usgs.gov with suggestions!

What you can expect to see soon:

  • Participants can choose which species or which locations he/she would like to transcribe.
  • Additional charts on the Data and Stats page to track program highlights.
  • Updated FAQ sheet!

Thank you to the office volunteers who come in to scan the migration cards. You are the anchors of the program and I really appreciate all the hours you put into keeping this program running! If you would like to see a full list of the species that have been scanned in the office and how many cards have been scanned of that species, please visit: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/DataAndStats.cfm.
I would also like to recognize two of the incredibly hardworking office volunteers who come in every week to scan migration cards and help with various office tasks to keep the program on track. Lauren Pulz and Shannon Beliew have just completed 50 hours of volunteer hours with the BPP and scanned over 20,000 cards each!

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments and don’t forget to check out the BPP website for more information.

     Jessica Zelt

Observer of the Month: Alexander Skutch
Taking a closer look at one of the many names that show up in the cabinets

Alexander Skutch (May 20, 1904- May 12, 2004) was a naturalist writer who published over 30 books and 200 scientific journals on the lives and habitats of Neotropical birds over a 70 year span. His works stimulated discussion and inquiry into avian sociobiology. He was best known for his pioneering work on helpers at the nest.
Skutch was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the eldest of four children. He spent his childhood on a farm where his love of animals was cultivated. He decided to become a biologist at the influence of one of his professors and received his doctorate in Botany from John Hopkins University. It was on a trip to Panama and Hondoras to study bananas that he developed a deep interest in birds and began to study their behaviors. He continued collecting plants for his income but birds remained his life’s main focus. In 1941 he purchased a farm in Costa Rica where he lived for the rest of his life. Skutch died one week before his 100th birthday and just shortly after receiving the Loye and Alden Miller Research Award.


To learn more about Alexander Skutch, please visit: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3793/is_200504/ai_n13639504/