BPP • E-Newsletter • May 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 continued to grow in office and online participants as well as cards scanned and transcriptions completed online. I am very proud to announce our current progress:

  • Migration Cards Scanned in the BPP Office: 272,766
  • Migration Cards Currently Available Online: 199,560
  • Migration Cards Transcribed Online: 135,584
  • Number of Online Transcribers: 1,329

The BPP team: Kevin Laurent, computer expert, and Kinard Boone, website designer, and Eric Tuner volunteer programmer, 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.
  • Updated FAQ sheet!
  • Updated website coming soon with new homepage layout and additional content

In some exciting news, the BPP will be featured in the July/August issue of Audubon Magazine which is expected be released at the end of June. Pick up a copy!
Thank you to the office volunteers who take time each week to scan migration cards! It has become a challenge to keep up with the feverish pace of the online transcribers and I appreciate their dedication to keeping everything running smoothly. We are however, always in need of additional office volunteers. If you are in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area, and would like to help, please contact the BPP Office.
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.
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: Edgar Alexander Mearns
Taking a closer look at one of the many names that show up in the cabinets


Edgar Alexander Mearns was born on September 11, 1856  to Alexander and Nancy Reliance Mearns née Clarswell in Highland Falls, New York and was a notable American ornithologist and field naturalist. Mearns attended the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating in 1881. The same year that he graduated, he married Ella Wittich of Circleville, Ohio, and the couple had two children, a son and daughter. Their son died when he was 26 from unknown causes.
From 1882 to 1899 he served the military service as a surgeon and naturalist. During that time, Mearns was stationed at three military posts on the Texas border, detailed by the War Department to act as a medical officer for the International Boundary Commission. This commission, established in the 1880’s, served to relocate the existing frontier line between United States and Mexico. The scientific work included a biological survey of the Mexican boundary region. From 1892 to 1895, Mearns surveyed more than seven hundred miles of the boundary, transversing the entire border along with his assistants, including all of Texas, collecting plants and animals and recording detailed natural history information. In 1907, Mearns published Mammals of the Mexican Boundary of the United States, recording his observations and scientific information. He contributed more than thirty thousand plant and animal specimens to the National Museum, including seven thousand mammals and described fourteen taxa of Texas mammals from throughout the borderlands region.
Mearns was a co-founder of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1883. He scientifically described several birds and other animals such as: the Taita Thrush, the Apo Sunbird, the Boran Cisticola, the Chihuahuan Grasshopper Mouse, and the Rufous-headed Tailorbird. Animal species like Mearns' Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae mearnsi) or the Banded rock lizard (Petrosaurus mearnsi) were named after him.
Edgar A. Mearns died November 1, 1916 in Washington D.C.

To learn more about Edgar A. Mearns, please visit: