The Dale Twining Birding Records Project was initiated to preserve 75+ years of an avid birder’s records, from 1935 to 2014 and from Philadelphia to the South Pacific. In order to preserve these records, his friends and family, together with the Wyncote Audubon Society, initiated an effort to digitize them and make the data available to researchers.
Volunteers are entering the observations from Dale’s record books into online spreadsheets, where the data will be uploaded to the eBird database. The data will be shared with a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists, making an enormous contribution to conservation by adding to the historical perspective of national datasets. Discovering trends in bird populations increases our understanding of biodiversity and guides conservation action.
Dale Twining’s records are the tip of the iceberg and there are many more historical records out there. We are working to preserve this valuable data by encouraging others to retrieve records from drawers and boxes and to use our methods to digitize them before they are lost. Even archived records should be uploaded to online databases to facilitate use of the data.
With more records, researchers will be better able to trace the environmental history of climate change, pesticide use, and urban development as they have affected bird populations in the past century. This historical perspective will improve our understanding of bird populations and allow us to look to the past to guide our actions for the future.
Stephanie L. Clymer is the Project Director for the Dale Twining Birding Records Project and a Research Assistant for the Smithsonian Institution’s Neighborhood Nestwatch at the University of Massachusetts. She previously worked with an urban watershed partnership in Philadelphia and studied plant ecology in Minnesota and West Virginia. Stephanie received her B.A. in Biology from Arcadia University in Pennsylvania and has experience in environmental education, community outreach, wildlife rehabilitation, bird banding, and field research. Her current interests include urban avian ecology and actively engaging citizen scientists in research.