Before you decide to add to the ASM project, I think it might be wise to
take a step back to determine what your expected outputs should be and for
whom.  Data collection is the easy part.  What do you want from it?

As one who has just spent a good chunk of her life in the past six months
upgrading and improving CACHE and SPARKS through newer programming code, I
think I have a fair to middlin' understanding of the concept and processes. 
First and foremost, CACHE and SPARKS were created as a service purchased by
MDC and DNR respectively, really no different than when those entities
contract with local heavy equipment operators to clear invasive cedars from
their properties.  There is a return value attached to their agreements;
i.e., printable checklists which they can link to on their public websites
as well as have hard copy available for other uses as they need and the
collection and easy display of occurrence and frequency data for use by
their land managers.  These returns fit well with other birding initiatives
such as Important Bird Areas, most of which are public lands across the
country.  The lack of funds for non-game biology is nothing new and this
public-private partnership is a really neat model that could be emulated by
other states.

At the same time that CACHE and SPARKS were in their infancy, Cornell's
massive data collection process (eBird) started growing exponentially,
collecting much of the same data as CACHE and SPARKS were collecting but for
a more global purpose.  Contrary to what some may think, the two are not
competitive programs but simply two unique methods of capturing data to
provide people with information.  CACHE/SPARKS is very targeted and focused
on MDC and DNR lands.  The funds received by ASM for providing this service
are primarily used for bird conservation activities (see  I think it's too bad when people see the two as
redundant and competitive when there is such good to come from both with
only a modicum of effort from Missouri birders.  I struggle with some of the
words used sometimes when folks pit one against the other.  My favorite tool
for hanging a picture may be a level but it's sure hard to pound the nail
with it.  To put it in more pertinent terms, how many of you rely on one
bird book for all your information?  Does each have redundant information? 
You bet, but each also has a little different twist to help fill in the
informational gaps.

eBird has become an Internet-based listing program which goes beyond the
wildest dreams of those of us who started keeping our own electronic records
in the 80s.  Who could have even fathomed the possibilities back then?  Now
it is easier than ever to share some information with anyone who may be
interested.  Using this idea as a frame of reference, CACHE and SPARKS data
has been added to eBird for several years now to help make a more complete
picture of birds in Missouri, a function not really a part of the CS mission
but more in line with the eBird mission.  For those who like to keep their
own personal lists in eBird, there is now a utility in CACHE/SPARKS to do
your own upload to your personal account
(  I wish there was a
simple solution for the reciprocal to happen but so far we've not been able
to crack that nut.  I've not given up but going small to large is much
easier than going large to small.  The complexities are a little

Since CACHE/SPARKS is not really a listing program per se but is driven by
the outputs designated by the agreements, before adding sites I think it
takes some serious discussion about a couple of things: 1) Exactly what is
it that someone wants to buy that is not publically available (through
eBird) and 2) Who is the purchaser?  Believe it or not, there is a lot of
time and hard work that goes into making something like this happen.   I
suspect that if USFWS (for National Wildlife Refuges) or USDA (for National
Forests) wanted to contract with ASM for something specific it would be
worth the discussion.  However, it seems to me that to just add sites for
the sake of adding sites only adds to some of the frustration people have
now with dual (or sometime more) entry.  This doesn't even address
infrastructure needs for a larger set of data.

Edge has asked for an estimate of cost to add to the current system.  I have
a hard time doing that without knowing what the expected results are to be.

Ann Johnson
5362 120th Ave
Norwalk, IA 50211

The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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