USA NPN National Phenology Network

Taking the Pulse of Our Planet

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North American Bird Phenology: Program Coordinator Position

North American Bird Phenology: Program Coordinator Position

The North American Bird Phenology Program houses a unique and largely forgotten collection of millions of migration observation cards that illuminate migration patterns and population status of birds in North America. These handwritten cards contain almost all of what was known of bird status from the Second World War back to the later part of the 19th
century. The bulk of the records are the result of a network of observers who recorded migration arrival dates in the spring and fall that, in its heyday, involved well over 3,000 participants.

On each record, participants recorded their name, locality, and year, along with arrival and departure dates, date of abundance, and if it was a common species to that location. Many field report files are also found among the records which include more detailed information including species behavior, habitat, and a description of the sighting. The records are cataloged by species and locality, totaling approximately 900 species of birds ranging across North America. Many of the records have been scanned and displayed online where a network of volunteers transcribe each record. A custom-built system validates transcribed records. Once validated, all data are released to the general public and scientific community.

The information from this analysis provides critical information on bird distribution, migration timing, and migration pathways. There is no other program that has the depth of information that can help us understand the effect that global climate change has on bird populations across the country.

The work outlined here will support the management of the North American Bird Phenology Program.

Key Responsibilities
The contractor will support the needs of the North American Bird Phenology at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center with an understanding of general research, scientific, and data management principles. The contractor will support the online volunteer network to effectively transcribe and edit BPP records. The contractor will edit, assemble, and interpret data collections; check records for scientific and taxonomic accuracy, manage the BPP website and database, and work with researchers to access records. The contractor will perform and initiate investigative research activities in an effort to understand, model, predict and preserve various in-house and collaborative research studies in relation to the BPP data.

Technical Requirements

  • Access to Information and Data
  • Provide access to BPP data through the current BPP website
  • Maintain webpages on BPP website, transcription screen, and training materials for volunteers
  • Provide volunteers with monthly E-Newsletter with updated program information
  • Manage and Populate database
  • Complete database QA/QC to maintain high degree of data quality
  • Transcribe and verify additional datasets associated to BPP; incorporate it into the BPP database
  • Support the use of BPP data in scientific papers
  • Answer requests for data and work with scientist to understand and interpret BPP data
  • Work with collaborating scientists to prepare scientific papers for publication
  • Recruit and Manage Online and Office Participants
  • Recruit new participants through listserves, presentations, and social media
  • Provide training and guidance to online participants
  • Manage office volunteers by providing projects, training, and oversight


  • B.S. or M.S. in Ecology, Wildlife Biology, Environmental Science or
  • a related field or equivalent work experience
  • Strong data manipulation, management and QA/QC skills and attention
  • to detail
  • Good writing and oral communication skills
  • Ability to work with a diverse audiences;  experience working with
  • volunteers
  • Specific knowledge and experience in ornithology is preferred
  • Ability to work in SQL Server is preferred

Place of Performance
Data will come from existing databases and other sources.  Analysis will be
completed at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.

If interested, please send resume and cover letter to: Jessica Zelt,

Opportunity within the NCO: