Data collection is ending for the House Finch Disease Survey
Since 1994, because of the efforts of participants across North America, the House Finch Disease Survey has been collecting data on the spread and prevalence of a bacterial disease that now affects House Finches from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts. These data have been invaluable for documenting the spread of the disease and have motivating research that seeks to understand the reasons for persistence of the disease as well as its longer-term impact on House Finch abundance.
Unfortunately, as time has gone on, we have found it increasingly difficult to continue running the House Finch Disease Survey in a way that allows us to provide timely feedback and interaction with participants. Without funding for a project coordinator, we have decided that we will be gradually shutting down the House Finch Disease Survey. This will be happening in stages, as follows:
- Starting immediately, we will not be registering new participants for House Finch Disease Survey.
- We still have a number of data forms, and will be sending these to current participants as requested, in order to collect data for one additional summer. Summer is the period of time during which we have the least knowledge of disease prevalence. After our supply of data-collection forms is exhausted, the only means of reporting diseased House Finches will be through Project FeederWatch, whose participants report not just the number of House Finches that they count during the winter months, but also the number with visible disease symptoms. Please consider joining Project FeederWatch if you are not already a participant. Note that there is a participant fee for Project FeederWatch to cover the costs of materials and support.
- In the fall and winter, we will be processing all of the remaining data forms from the House Finch Disease Survey and using this information to create a 15-year retrospective on the disease and its impacts on populations of wild House Finches.
While we regret not being able to continue the House Finch Disease Survey as one of the Lab of Ornithology's citizen-science projects, other aspects of our study of the bacterial disease have taken up increasing amounts of our time and energy. Effectively, we are moving in a normal progression in scientific research, from identifying new and unusual patterns to understanding their causes. None of this work would have been possible without the interest and efforts of the many volunteers who have been part of the House Finch Disease Survey over the years. We are grateful to everyone of you who has taken the time to tell us about your birds.
We will be keeping some information on the Lab of Ornithology website about the disease and the birds that are infected. Please see the FAQ and other pages, linked to from this page.
(photos above by Phil Musta)