What Scientists Have Learned from 100 Years of Bird Banding by Jan Willem Tulp

In celebration of 100 years of bird banding, Scientific American (Jen Christiansen) commissioned me to create a visualization for the March 2021 edition.

The Bird Banding Laboratory has been curating bird banding records since 1920. In 1959 a fire damaged many of the records, which helped to drive a shift toward electronic record keeping. For practical reasons, most research projects today deal with the digitized records, starting with birds first banded or reencountered after 1960. This visualization shows the birds that lie at the heart of the digitized data: 70,593,588 banding records and 4,134,060 reencounter records from 1960 through 2016.

Two visualizations have been created, the first one shows the number of birds banded over time for the various categories of birds (with beautiful illustrations by Liz Wahid) of the most common bird in each category. A second visualization shows 4 globes, one for each seasons, indicating where and how many birds were banded, including a special note of the a bird that has the longest travel.