By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator
Most nature photographers know the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as the organization behind eBird and the Merlin app, two invaluable references for bird photographers, bird watchers, and people interested in our avian friends. There’s a lot more to the Lab than apps, however. The Lab’s Macauley Library contains an amazing collection of photos, videos, and audio recordings about birds, amphibians, mammals, and fish that are available for research and education. Thanks to more than 100,000 eBirders and nature photographers, the Macauley Library has more than 32 million photos of birds! Recently, the Lab chose its 90 favorite bird photos.
The Macauley Library’s top 90 bird photos are a great source of inspiration and make for some very enjoyable viewing. The library’s collection is more than a bunch of pretty pictures, though. The photos capture bird behaviors, habitat, distribution, diet, and other key things that researchers study. This archive feeds eBird and Merlin, and users of the apps, in turn, add to the collection. It’s a great example of community science and highlights the role photographers and birdwatchers can play in understanding, protecting, and conserving species, simply by sharing their photos and observations.
You can get involved with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology by registering an account with eBird and/or the Merlin app. But your contribution to community science projects doesn’t have to end there. iNaturalist is another crowd-sourced community science archive. NANPA’s Lost Words eBook Collection Project is a great place to get started. In addition to adding to iNaturalist’s collections, your photos can support important advocacy work. Get all the details here.
And if it’s gorgeous photos and pictorial inspiration you’re looking for, take a look at the new, all digital 2022 edition of NANPA’s Expressions journal. Not only will you see 250 exquisite nature photography images, you’ll hear the judges describing what they liked about some of the top photos and you’ll see videos from many of the Top 24 winners, learn more about the ins and outs of photo contests, and learn the stories behind prize-winning photos. And, just like eBird, Merlin, and iNaturalist, it’s free!