[CT Birds] New bird identification training program "Dendroica"

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Thu May 13 12:23:54 EDT 2010

I thought that this information might be of interest given some of the recent discussions about bird songs.  The site is designed for people involved in breeding bird atlases, but it sounds like it should be useful for general birding too.  I have not actually used the site at all yet, though I did see a CD developed for the Ontario atlas, which I think was the initial incarnation of this web site.

Hello everybody,

Environment Canada and the USGS Breeding Bird Survey office are pleased to announce the official launch of the bird identification training program Dendroica: An aid to the identification of North American Birds.


Dendroica is an interactive website developed to help students, volunteers and professionals improve their skills at identifying birds by sight or by sound, particularly so that they can participate in nature survey and monitoring programs, including Breeding Bird Atlases. The site includes bird species from throughout Canada, the USA, and Mexico. The program includes up to 8 or more different sound recordings and photographs for each species as well as descriptions of the songs of each species. Although there are still a number of gaps in our coverage, especially from Mexico, the program also allows participants to contribute new photographs and sound recordings, so it will continue to improve over time. We hope that, as more people use the program, we will be able to fill many of our gaps in coverage -- although we already have more than 4000 each of photos and sound recordings.

To use all of the features of the program, participants should register (registration is free) and sign-in. This will allow users to select lists of species to study, such as all the breeding (or non-breeding) species in a particular region, or species with a particular song type or from a particular taxonomic group, or they can make their own lists. They can then study the photos or sound recordings and read the song descriptions for the selected species before quizzing themselves to see how well they are doing. The quiz randomly picks songs and/or photos (users can choose) from among the list available for each species. This is particularly valuable for learning bird songs because we have multiple recordings of most species, so users don't always get the same recording for a particular species.

We would like to encourage you to use the program and, if you are running any Breeding Bird Atlases, promote the use of the program with your atlas participants. Feel free to put links to the program on your atlas websites or in the promotional material that you send to your atlasers.

Also, if any of your atlasers have high quality photographs or (better yet) well edited sound recordings that will enhance the program or help to fill gaps, please encourage them to contribute to the program.

Also, if you have suggestions for ways that the program could be improved, please let us know so that we can consider them. For example, if you would like to review the list of species recorded for your state / province - especially breeding species - let us know and we will send you a copy of the list for you to review (the current lists were derived from the Avibase data base, but in some cases breeding status was inferred from range maps).

There are several improvements that we are already planning, in addition to continuing to expand the database of photos and recordings. Currently, the program is available in English and French, but we will be adding a Spanish version in the near future. We will also be adding a new set of maps to provide better detail than the current maps, produced by Andrew Couturier from the NatureServe dataset. This will require some program redesign to accommodate. We are also working on a new module that will allow users to listen to recordings of "point counts" and try to identify all of the birds that can be heard on the recording, though it may be a while before that module is ready for release.

We hope you find Dendroica useful.

Charles M. Francis, PhD
Manager | Gestionnaire
Species Abundance and Distribution | Abondance et répartition des espèces
Canadian Wildlife Service | Service canadien de la faune

Environment Canada | Environnement Canada

1125 Colonel By, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0H3
Charles.Francis at ec.gc.ca<mailto:Charles.Francis at ec.gc.ca>

Telephone | Téléphone 613-998-0332

Facsimile | Télécopieur 613-998-0458

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