The Avian Knowledge Network (AKN) is a collaborative effort between a multitude of stakeholders to facilitate and enhance bird conservation. The AKN is comprised of three main components which allow it to achieve its goals:

  • Stakeholders (which are people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines including state and federal agencies, NGOs, citizen scientists, biologists, conservation practitioners, programmers and land managers); 
  • Technology; and
  • Data.

Together these make up the public experience with the AKN, including interactive tools, data products and avian conservation information. 

The AKN consists of a variety of interactive tools, data products and information. These can be grouped into the following overarching categories:

The AKN resources can be used by a variety of audiences for a number of purposes including, but not limited to, aiding in decisions about conservation actions, project siting, or just learning about bird status and occurrence.  You can see how different user groups might use AKN by visiting AKN User Examples.

To learn more about these resources, and about the history of the AKN and how it has been evolving and growing, please explore the information offered below.

For a quick overview about the AKN, it’s capabilities and primary features, please watch the AKN 101 video.   


The History of the AKN and How It is Growing and Evolving

The history of the AKN and about the AKN nodes [showhide type=”post7″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

A lot of work has gone into the AKN over the past 10 years, and this work has been spearheaded by its many contributors (or sponsors) including, Klamath Bird Observatory, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S Forest Service, Department of Defense, Federal Highways, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Land Management, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada. Each year, new funding has continued to grow the AKN, resulting in new data contributions, new AKN features, and occasionally new nodes. Let’s talk about these nodes and features that comprise the AKN.

There are currently nine AKN nodes. These are, in alphabetical order: Avian Knowledge Northwest (AKNW), Borderlands Avian Data Center (BADC), California Avian Data Center (CADC), Eastern Avian Data Center (EADC), Federal Avian Data Center (FADC), Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring (IWMM), Midwest Avian Data Center (MWADC), Nature Counts, and Rocky Mountain Avian Data Center (RMADC). To see more information about each node and visit their websites, view the AKN Nodes webpage.  AKN node webpages deliver information targeted toward the sponsor’s particular needs. The node webpages can be consulted to view information and products that are specific to a particular region, species guild or conservation theme.

Up until a couple years ago, each node operated much more independently from each other, having their own individual databases. For example, if you had a dataset collected in the Midwest, you’d go to MWADC and enter the data there, and you couldn’t access this data through any other node besides the MWADC node. Additionally, that data would only be shared with the tools on the MWADC website. Under this architecture, the AKN was not operating as one system, but an assortment of individual systems and databases.

Thanks to funding contributed by several federal agencies (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Federal Highways, Department of Defense, Forest Service and National Park Service) a couple years ago in association with the development of the FADC node,  this underlying architecture changed to create connections between the individual node databases on the back end (with the exception of Nature Counts whose data is still somewhat siloed). This enabled individual datasets to be synthesized across spatial boundaries on the back-end and, therefore, useable together in different types of analysis, summaries, and visualizations. The first tools to take advantage of this new infrastructure and serve up the data within the full geographic boundary of all AKN data (which currently includes the U.S. and its territories and parts of northern Mexico) are the Phenology Tool and the Observations Map. The Data Downloader and Data Catalog were also made possible by this new infrastructure, since they also have access to the full breadth of data within the AKN system. 

The new architecture establishes the AKN system as the sum of almost all its existing contributors, and opens up the opportunity for a new model of growth. In this model, new development efforts can be geared as much as possible toward improving and building upon the AKN infrastructure as a whole in a way that benefits all contributors and users of the system. To support this model, the AKN Steering Committee, consisting of AKN contributors (sponsors) and AKN developers is working to create a long-term AKN vision and operations and maintenance plan that can ensure the continued success and strategic development of the system.



About the newest AKN nodes (Borderlands Avian Data Center and Federal Avian Data Center) [showhide type=”post8″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

The two newest nodes of the AKN bring a variety of new tools, features and information to the AKN. Here’s a little bit more about them.

Borderlands Avian Data Center

The Borderlands Avian Data Center is the first geographic node that focuses on binational collaboration. It is the only bilingual node (in Spanish), and is managed by a team from both the U.S. and Mexico. The area covered includes southern CA and Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, as well as northern Mexico. The development of the node added datasets to that area of the U.S. and Mexico not previously in the AKN. It also provides and interface that focuses on the specific issues for birds in that area of the United States and Mexico, including desert thrashers.


Federal Avian Data Center

Prior to the development of the Federal Avian Data Center (FADC), the AKN was comprised of a series of regional or thematic nodes, which focused data and tools solely on one particular bird conservation issue or region of the United States. Furthermore, nodes were not connected to each other within the system. So, although there were many good data sets in different nodes throughout the AKN, the data could not be easily extracted together or aggregated quickly for analysis.

To address the “data disconnect”, federal agencies sought to modify the AKN infrastructure on the back end to allow for data (no matter which AKN node it has been entered into, previously or in the future) to be aggregated and accessible to users on a nationwide level through tools like the AKN Phenology Tool, AKN Observations Map, and migratory bird returns within the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) tool. Funding associated with the FADC effort also covered the development of tools like the Bulk Uploader and Data Downloader to make it easier for users to add and extract the data, and the Data Catalog to allow users to explore and discover the various AKN datasets, and enable the ability to contact data owners, if desired.

The tools and information offered via the Federal Avian Data Center webpages focus on the primary needs of the federal agencies, which include information on how to conduct environmental reviews for migratory birds, and get easy access to beneficial practices to avoid and minimize impacts to birds as well as online tools that allow them to get information about bird status and spatial and temporal occurrence to help them comply with bird conservation laws and requirements and do better and quicker environmental reviews.



How the AKN is Evolving [showhide type=”post9″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

With its new infrastructure in place, inherently, the more data goes into the AKN, the more robust the collective AKN dataset becomes. The AKN is seeking to constantly attract more data and to improve connections to large and useful datasets collected and owned by others (such as Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and E-bird) that can be used in online summary and analysis housed both inside and outside the AKN to help the bird conservation community and others learn more about birds and do better bird conservation. 

New development within the system will inherently improve the system as a whole. Some development will be very unique to a particular audience or answering a particular question; but, for the most part, new features can be useful and of interest to a much larger audience than originally intended, and also for a much broader range of needs than the tool or feature was initially intended. Additionally, the AKN team (comprised of individuals representing agencies and organizations who have contributed funding to do development within the AKN in the past) will be working with any parties requesting new development in the AKN to ensure as much as possible that new funding is used to address existing known AKN system-wide needs or improve upon already existing features, wherever this is appropriate and possible. In this way, development becomes much more affordable because it’s building off already existing infrastructure and features (rather recreating the wheel), and many parties outside of the funding party may benefit from the new improvements, and may even be willing to cost-share on the development or maintenance.

The AKN is looking forward in the coming years to continuous improvement of existing data sharing and data analysis tools; as well as development of better and more efficient data sharing mechanisms and more versatile and customizable data summary and analysis tools that will benefit all users and contributors of the AKN. 

If you’re interested in contributing data to the AKN,  please visit the Upload, Enter and Manage Your Data page for more information on how to get started. If you have a suggestion about how to improve a particular tool, or have funding you’d like to contribute to the AKN, please contact an AKN representative.


About the AKN Resources

Data Entry/Sharing Tools [showhide type=”post” more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

Data entry and sharing tools offered through the AKN that allow data to continue to grow within the system are as follows:

  • Direct data entry interface (free)
  • A bulk uploader feature to facilitate the upload of pre-existing datasets (may include an additional cost if assistance is needed to crosswalk the existing dataset to fit the AKN data structure)
  • Ability to create a bridge between an existing system and the AKN via an Application Programming Interface (API) (this may include an additional cost if AKN programmer assistance is needed)
  • For more information about these options, please visit the Upload, Enter and Manage Your Data webpage of the AKN.

There are many benefits to sharing your data with the AKN. Learn more about the benefits.

To learn more about the data in AKN and the different ways it is shared, please visit About AKN Data.



Data Discovery and Download Tools [showhide type=”post1″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

The AKN offers tools that allow users to search and discover the datasets in the AKN, as well as download a subset of fields associated with records that have shared by the data owners as publicly available. These tools are as follows:

Data Catalog – The Data Catalog is a publicly available tool that does not require an AKN account. The Catalog provides summary information about all of the datasets that are currently curated in AKN systems (with the exception of E-bird and Breeding Birds Survey). Data owner contact information is listed in the summary under “Author” to allow user to contact data owners, if desired. Data summaries include several pieces of information including geospatial information, species lists, number of species, number or records, survey type, data sharing level(s) and more. Survey datasets that contain publicly available (Level 5) data include a link to the Data Downloader for that project, to allow user to download any publicly available data. For a short web tutorial on the Data Catalog, visit the Data Catalog video tutorial.

Data Downloader – The AKN offers this application specifically for downloading observations that the owners of data in the AKN have made publicly available (AKN Data Sharing Level 5).  The downloads provided through the Data Downloader are meant to be used in cross project comparisons and studies. The data is simplified to the common fields for each survey type and does not include project specific data that may have been collected. Each row in a download includes a catalog identifier indicating what dataset that row came from. The application allows users to select and download large datasets using several optional filters including protocol type, beginning and ending date, species and guild, region type (USNABCI BCRs, LCC, US State boundaries, etc), and Project Names. Data owners or users that have been given access to a dataset by a Project Leader may also use the Data Downloader to download that data. In this case, downloaded data will include all dataset fields.

To use the Data Downloader, you must first register for a user account by filling out the online user registration form. Users that have an account can access the Data Downloader. For a short web tutorial on the Data Downloader, visit the Data Downloader video tutorial.



Data Owner Analysis Tool [showhide type=”post2″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

The Analyst tool is available to anyone who directly houses their data in the AKN. The Analyst tool allows users to retrieve and analyze data they own, or that has been shared with them by a project owner. This application is designed for people with some knowledge about the data, offers password-protected access, and is intended to help develop project reports. For a short web tutorial on this tool, please visit the Analyst tool video tutorial.



Publicly Available Interactive Data Summary and Analysis Tools [showhide type=”post3″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

Publicly Available Data Summary, Visualization and Analysis Tools use real-time AKN data shared at Data Sharing Level 2 and higher in the AKN system. It should be noted that although Breeding Birds Survey (BBS) and E-bird data are also shared with these tools, they are not updated regularly, and at this time only are current as of 2015-2016. The details of data feeding into publicly available core AKN tools can be found here.

The publicly available data summary, visualization and analysis tools listed below are considered Core Resources of the AKN since they access data from the entire system, and you may find links to them on other AKN node webpages.


Core AKN Tools:

Phenology Tool –  The Phenology tool allows the user to view abundance and relative probability of presence summaries throughout the year for birds in a particular region or project area. For a short web tutorial on this tool, please visit the Phenology Tool video tutorial.

 Observations Map – The Observations Map allows the user to visualize, query, and investigate data at surveyed locations by species, survey location or area of interest.  It also allows users to view individual datasets separately, and download reports of results. For a short web tutorial on this tool, please visit the Observations Map Tool video tutorial.


In addition to the Core AKN tools, there are other node-specific tools in this category. These are as follows:

Node-Specific Tools:

AKNW Data Exploration Map – Allows for exploration of Avian Knowledge Northwest datasets. It also allows specific (i.e., county, watershed, public lands) queries within the region.

Borderlands Avian Data Center Observations Map – Allows the user to query, visualize, and investigate bird observation data at surveyed locations in a map interface within the BADC boundaries (Southwestern U.S. states and northern Mexico). It also allows users to identify which data sets are publicly available for further inquiry and analyses. Available map overlays include: Bird Conservation Regions, Important Bird Areas, Joint Venture regions, Ramsar sites, congressional districts, watersheds, and more.

The Sierra Nevada Monitoring Avian Information Network – (Available through the CADC node) – The Sierra Nevada Avian Monitoring Information Network (SNAMIN) is an interactive website intended for use by natural resource managers and other stakeholders across the Sierra Nevada to help inform adaptive management decisions. This site provides easy access to avian monitoring data from across the Sierra Nevada, allowing users to quickly and easily generate summary, abundance, occupancy, and species richness analyses for over 100 bird species. Results can be generated from the scale of individual transects, to sets of multiple transects within forest service ranger districts, National Forests, or the entire bioregion.

Farallon Marine Bird and Mammal Distribution Map – (A product of CADC) –   This map-based tool was developed as part of an ongoing collaboration between PRBO Conservation Science, Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. It presents an easy-to-navigate interface to 577.5 million avian observation records at over 15,000 locations in the state of California. Users can choose a data source and the time period they are interested in, then choose a species. The map will redraw, indicating locations where the selected species was found. You can click on a point to get more information about it, or click within the polygons to get density estimates within the shaded National Marine Sanctuary boundaries.

IWMM Data Analysis Tools – The Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring node offers a number of options to look at summaries and analysis of IWMM data. All reports may be viewed interactively, or downloaded and saved in PDF or CSV format. However, you must be must be a registered user and log-in to the IWMM Portal to be able to access these options. Instructions on how to become a registered user and gain access to these reporting tools can be found on the IWMM Protocols and Data Management page.

Rocky Mountain Avian Data Center Data Exploration and Analysis Interface – This tool draws from underlying Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (RMBO) data to allow the user to view a map where they can query and visualize species detections by species type,  multiple spatial and temporal extents, study design type, and several other parameters. Users can also add different base layers to view with those detections (BCRs, National Park Service lands, BLM Fields Offices, DOD lands, and more). Furthermore, the tool allows the user to see summaries and graphic representations on species density, occupancy and counts at the state and BCR levels.

Nature Counts Population Trends and Seasonal Abundance Tool – This population trends tool allows you to display estimated annual indices of population size at particular survey locations in Canada over time, with an optional loess smoothed trend line, for a selected time period and season (note however that trend is only calculated on the entire sampling period at each site). Plots for multiple locations and species can be displayed at once. You can start by selecting a project, and then one or more area, and one or more species (you can select multiple areas or species by holding the CTRL key), as well as the other optional features.



Static Data Products  [showhide type=”post4″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

Static data products are data products such as maps or models that were developed using AKN data and other data sources in order to help answer a particular conservation question or fulfill a specific need for the node sponsors. Most of these are publicly available products and many are interactive, allowing users to specify query parameters in order to obtain results. Many of these products may be of use or interest to audiences well beyond the intended audience. The following is a list of static data products that can be found in the AKN:

Avian Vulnerability to Climate Change Maps – (A product of the AKNW) –  Projects climate-driven changes in the abundances and distributions of 31 focal bird species in Oregon and Washington using the latest downscaled climate projections and corresponding vegetation model outputs.

Pacific Northwest Climate Change Avian Vulnerability Tool – (A product of the AKNW) – Developed by the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative, to inform your management about the effects of climate change on bird species found in western Washington, Oregon and California. You can use this tool to (1) view spatially explicit projections of climate change impacts to 26 bird species, (2) explore regions of high conservation priority, (3) analyze changes in bird habitat and bird communities, (4) identify new monitoring locations which can improve our understanding of climate change impacts, and (5) download our model results to use in your own analyses.

Oak Bird Pop: An Online Interactive Supplement to the Land Manager’s Guide to Bird Habitat and Populations in Oak Ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest – (A product of the AKNW) – An interactive tool to inform land managers and others in the Pacific Northwest in the planning and implementation of oak habitat management and restoration actions. The goal is to help assess the projected population response of 31 oak-associated bird species to oak habitat changes. OakBirdPop serves as an interactive supplement to the Land Manager’s Guide to Bird Habitat and Populations in Oak Ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.

Aquatic Bird Sites – (A product of the AKNW) – In an effort to help coordinate aquatic bird monitoring and facilitate regionally based studies, Klamath Bird Observatory has compiled and posted descriptions for important aquatic bird sites within eastern Oregon, western Oregon, and northwestern California. The site descriptions include information such as water level fluctuations, land ownership, access issues, visibility constraints, and aquatic birds expected to be present.

Borderlands Avian Data Center (BADC) Planning for Landscape Management and Adaptation Tool (PLuMA) – (A product of BADC) –  PLuMA (Planning for Landscape Management and Adaptation) allows the user to explore the potential impact of climate change on bird species in northwest Mexico and the southwest United States and download GIS layers for areas of interest.

Future San Francisco Bay Tidal Marshes – A Climate-Smart Planning Tool – (A product of CADC) – The models generating the maps produced by this tool are the first to take into account the ability of marshes to accrete, or keep up with, rising sea levels, in the San Francisco Bay Estuary

Modeling Bird Distribution Responses to Climate Change –  (A product of CADC) – This product uses climate models and multi-source bird data, to predict current and future species distributions for California terrestrial breeding bird species. Currently, we have nearly 200 species available for viewing. These species represent 7 major habitat types found within California including riparian, oak woodland, scrub, conifer, grassland, wetlands, and desert habitat types.

Predicted Bird Species Distribution in Central Valley (LIP) –  (A product of CADC) – This product uses species habitat modeling software, Maxent, to map predicted bird species distributions for 10 avian species in the Central Valley.



Plans and Guidance/Bird Survey Protocols, Protocol Templates, and Monitoring Best Practices/Case Studies and Conservation Measures/Information about Individual Bird Conservation Projects [showhide type=”post5″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

For more information on these items, please visit the AKN Site Map to see a list of the resources available on the AKN website and individual node webpages, and use the links in the Site Map to navigate directly to those resources and see more information.



Other Recommended Resources [showhide type=”post6″ more_text=”Show more…” less_text=”Show less…”] 

The AKN also seeks to deliver information about other online tools and products that can be useful aiding others in learning about birds and doing better bird conservation. These resources (such as the E-bird Status and Trends products, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Ocean Data Portals, Partners in Flight Species Assessment Database and Landbird Population Assessment Databases) can be accessed on the Other Recommended Resources page. 


Other Helpful Resources

To learn more about the full breadth of resources and tools in the AKN, visit the  AKN Site Map.

Other helpful resources include: