Bird Databases - some thoughts

Subject: Bird Databases - some thoughts
From: "Martin O'Brien" <>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 10:17:06 -0816 (UTC)
As a regular 'requestee'  for more detail on waterbird 
sightings reported to the list I thought it of interest to 
canvass listmembers views on the public and other 
'official' databases I am aware of in Victoria.

Michael Norris mentioned to me that it is confusing to 
hear of various bird databases kept by different groups 
around the country.  Some thoughts I have are as follows.

* It is vitally important that birdos forward sightings of 
threatened birds (as listed in State government 
publications) to the relevant recognised Statewide 
database.  In Victoria, this is the Atlas of Victorian 
Wildlife (for all vertebrate records) and for waterbirds in 
particular, the Wetlands Database.  Note that transferral 
of data whether it be hand written or in electronic form 
can usually be arranged to save observers the task of   
getting information onto the Victorian databases.

* Priority species - the Victorian Department of Natural 
Resources and Environment has a list of 'priority bird' 
(and other vertebrate) species, so not all records need to 
be forwarded to these databases.  Full lists will however 
be accepted, especially if they are for a 1 minute grid or 
for a specific site done on a regular basis.

* Authoritative databases - this may be a vexing question 
for some (responses please!) but  I feel that STATEWIDE 
databases that are accessable to the public and record 
current information as well as historic records are the 
'best' place for bird data to reside.

* Accuracy of information - data is only of any use if it 
can accurately match sightings with specific habitats at 
specific dates.  How many 'lists' have you seen that are 
just that and no more?  'Good' databases will record 
observations to 100m accuracy or better.

At the end of the day we must ask ourselves: Why are we 
collecting observations on birds if it doesn't assist in 
the conservation of our avifauna and their habitats?  

As I have a 'vested' interest in the conservation of 
wildlife I am keen to hear listmembers views on the above.
Martin O'Brien
Scientific Officer - Flora and Fauna Guarantee
Flora and Fauna Statewide Program
Department of Natural Resources and Environment
4/250 Victoria Pde.,
East Melbourne  3002
Victoria   AUSTRALIA

tel: + 61 3 9412 4567
fax: + 61 3 9412 4586

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