Every June for 20 years, Mountain Birdwatch community scientists have taken to the peaks of northern New England and New York to monitor the bird species that breed in the spruce-fir forests found atop our tallest mountains. They trek to 129 high elevation routes where they listen for 10 montane bird species and red squirrel (the principal nest predator in this ecosystem). Thanks to the invaluable data they collect, we have a better understanding of the state of the mountain birds. Many thanks to the Charles E. and Edna T. Brundage Foundation and the Robert F. Schumann Foundation for their financial support in creating these tools!
While data is indispensable to our statistical understanding of mountain bird populations, community scientists contribute much more to our comprehension of natural systems than the sum of their datasheets. Time and again, outstanding ecological studies are inspired by the direct observations of naturalists in the field. The importance of these direct observations is exceptionally important in remote ecosystems like mountains, where in-person observation is comparatively rare and transient. We are guests in the mountains these birds call home and our science benefits when naturalists share what they see.
Many Mountain Birdwatchers survey the same routes year after year, developing a sense for how populations might vary at that site over time. These data exploration tools combine the observations of hundreds of community scientists over nearly a decade. We hope that you will use them to ask whether the patterns you understand for your local area or this past season hold over regional scales and multiple years. Data is only as informative as the questions we all ask of it.