BirdCast 1.0 – Origins

Much of this BirdCast origin story is verbatim from this document, summarized hereafter very briefly. EPA’s EMPACT program funded the original BirdCast project in 1999, with public operation beginning on April 1, 2000. The project began as a collaboration among EMPACT, EPA Region 3, EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Clemson University Radar Ornithology Laboratory, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and GeoMarine, Inc. The four primary objectives of the project were:

1) To maintain an Internet Web site that posted educational information about bird migra­tion and the steps that property managers could take to mitigate the danger and stress that migrating birds face when passing through an area.

2) To predict and monitor bird migrations on a daily basis using weather radar. The data gathered by radar were to be continually interpreted by trained scientists and presented using text summaries, charts, and radar maps. During its first year, BirdCast also experimented with using microphones to perform bioacoustic monitoring of bird migrations.

3) To collect and disseminate volunteers’ reports of bird sightings. This information col­lection, known as “groundtruthing,” was coordinated through the BirdCast Web site. Groundtruthing information was stored on an Web-accessible database called “BirdSource” that Cornell maintained (note that several years later, this database would evolve into eBird!). Visitors to the BirdCast Web site could query this database and display reports in chart or graph form.

4) To raise public awareness about the sensitivity of migratory bird populations. This pub­lic relations campaign, coordinated by National Audubon, involved generating press releases, working with local land managers, distributing promotional materials, and making presentations at conferences and conventions.

This phase of BirdCast ended in 2001.