Sacajawea Audubon

John Parker Awarded 2012 Citizen Scientist of the Year

John Parker accepts Citizen Scientist of the Year Award

John Parker  - Montana Audubon 2012 Citizen Scientist of the Year

Although birdwatching is a hobby for many, it can also be an important source of information about Montana’s birds. When birdwatchers carefully record and catalog data on the time, environmental conditions, and location birds seen, as well as nesting behaviors—and then take the time to input this data into eBird or the Montana Bird Distribution system—this information is extremely helpful for Montana’s scientists and resource managers.

This record keeping of wildlife by volunteers is commonly called “citizen science.” Citizen Scientists have been around for a very long time, lending a helping hand to researchers around the world. They are particularly critical for our knowledge base on birds—especially in a large state like Montana.

Because of his important work to increase our understanding of our state’s birds, Montana Audubon would like to present John Parker with our 2012 Citizen Scientist of the Year Award. As examples of some of the Citizen Scientist projects that John has worked on:

* John has organized Bozeman-area (citizen science) Christmas Bird Counts for over 20 years. This work includes much coordination, including ensuring that there are leaders for the four counts held in the area. Annually he personally leads the Bozeman CBC, and then volunteers on at least two other local Christmas Bird Count efforts.

* In the last several years, John has spearheaded the work of Sacajawea Audubon to nominate Harrison Reservoir, located between Ennis and Three Forks, as an Important Bird Area. In this work, John has carefully and systematically documented over 155 species of birds in the area, including 30 species of waterfowl, 3 kinds of loon, 6 species of grebe, 12 raptors, 29 species of shorebirds, and 12 types of gulls and terns. Of these birds, 27 of these species are of conservation priority, with at least 23 of those use the IBA area on an annual basis. Through this work, John has shown that this 1,552 acre reservoir attracts an exceptional bird diversity including, at times, large concentrations of waterfowl and shorebirds. This information shows how Harrison Reservoir plays a critical role as one of a chain of lakes and reservoirs whose presence facilitate the movement of waterfowl, shorebirds and other migrants from the Rocky Mountain Frontthrough the semi-arid mountain valleys of west central Montana.

* John’s long-term record keeping also helped determine the boundary and importance of the Madison Valley Important Bird Area in 2006. This IBA is located south of Harrison Reservoir.

* And finally, John has contributed hundreds of records to the 6th and 7th edition of Montana Bird Distribution, most of them confirmed breeding records (Big “B”). We also understand that John is a new convert to eBird!

Montana Audubon—and Sacajawea Audubon—are honored and pleased to recognize John with this award. His interest in and commitment to increase our understanding and knowledge of Montana’s birds and their habitats is inspirational. Thank you very much, John, for all your good work.