Audubon's Bird Migration Explorer lets you track 458 species of birds

Mark LaBarr, Audubon Vermont's conservation program manager, has handled more than 15,000 birds for banding in his career, including 5,000 birds over 25 years at the Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington.

LaBarr is a master bander, licensed by the U.S. Geological Survey, and the data gathered from the birds he's banded is just one small part of the National Audubon Society's Bird Migration Explorer, a free interactive platform with migration data for 458 bird species found in the United States and Canada. The platform is expected to play an important role in slowing down or reversing troubling declines in the populations of migratory birds.

The Bird Migration Explorer includes:

  • Interactive, animated maps of the full annual migration for 458 species.

  • More than 4.2 million point-to-point migratory bird connections across the hemisphere.

  • Visualizations for 19 selected Conservation Challenges that migratory birds are exposed to throughout the year across the Americas.

The return of ospreys to Lake Arrowhead in Milton, Vermont, is one of the surest signs of spring, with the migratory raptors returning between April 5 and 12 every year for the past quarter century.  On March 31, 2021, a pair returned a few days early, and began settling in on a Green Mountain Power nesting platform just below the cabin that was once home to famed osprey advocate Meeri Zetterstrom.  Zetterstrom inspired efforts that lead to the bird’s rebound in Vermont after their near extirpation due to the chemical DDT.

"People have always been curious and amazed by migratory birds and their incredible journeys, but only recently are scientists piecing together the full picture of how these birds travel from one end of the globe to the other," Dr. Jill Deppe, senior director of Audubon's Migratory Bird Initiative, said in a news release. "Migratory birds also need our help − populations are facing steep declines across the board."

2.5 billion migratory birds lost

Since 1970, North America has lost more than 2.5 billion migratory birds, according to Science magazine, giving the Bird Migration Explorer an important role to play beyond satisfying the curiosity of people fascinated by the epic journeys of migrating birds.

By visualizing and highlighting the important habitats for birds during breeding and wintering seasons, as well as throughout their migratory journeys, the Bird Migration Explorer provides the scientific basis for conservation policies and solutions to address the steep declines in migratory bird populations, according to the National Audubon Society.

"We're in a golden age of bird migration research and technology, and by consolidating all of these data into one interactive platform, we can better understand which places can have the biggest impact to help migratory birds," Melanie Smith, director of the Bird Migration Explorer, said in a news release.

Stu Mackenzie, director of strategic assets for Birds Canada, called the Bird Migration Explorer an "urgently needed new tool for conservation," in a news release. Birds Canada contributes data to the online tracker.

"Using the explorer, people can discover the magnificence of migratory birds, the challenges they face, and efforts to conserve them − including steps anyone can take to help birds," Mackenzie said.

Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or Follow him on Twitter @DanDambrosioVT. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Aubudon's Bird Migration Explorer offers complete data on 458 species.