U.S. Geological Survey: Data Preservation


Scientist banding a bird
Alaska Unit master’s student Julie Morse bands a black oystercatcher in Kenai Fjords National Park, AK. Photographer: Kenai Fjords

For a century, the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., has coordinated the banding of birds by researchers engaged in avian science, conservation, and management. To promote the efficient and general use of these scientifically valuable data and reduce costs, the USGS needs to digitize nearly a half-million paper recovery records dating from 1985, as well as more than 1300 microfilm records dating from 1908-1984.

Recovery Act Funding

The U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., will receive nearly $488,000 in ARRA funds.


Banding records before 1955 are only available in paper format; records from 1955-59 are only digitized as summaries. Once digitized, these records will be linked with the BBL’s new electronic database for easy access for researchers and the public.

The records will be invaluable for investigations of topics such as disease research and bird phenology – seasonal events in the life cycles of birds, such as migration and nesting dates – as well as changes to the status and distribution of birds in response to global climate change.

Students will help preserve almost a century’s worth of information about bird migrations by digitizing paper and microfilm records. Conversion to electronic data will eliminate the current extensive and costly off-site storage of paper records. Shared knowledge and resources will be strengthened by improving access to these data by bird management and conservation programs.

Further information

DOI Recovery Investments by Bureau

Last Updated: February 02, 2012
Content contact: recovery@ios.doi.gov