In Canada and the United States, eBird is helping to update the population data for Important Bird Areas, either by design (e.g., IBA Caretakers in Canada are explicitly asked to enter their bird data on eBird) or incidentally (e.g., birders enter their data, not realizing that they are within an IBA). In either case, these data form a valuable resource for the IBA Programs in North America as they are incorporated into the various tools and visualizations available via the eBird portal (e.g., bar charts, high counts, species lists, etc.) and ultimately help to ensure our knowledge of and conservation planning for individual IBAs. We anticipate that eBird will be used increasingly for IBA monitoring within Canada, and perhaps beyond. At this early stage, there is an opportunity to increase the value of the eBird reports to derive better bird population estimates at individual IBAs.
Canada now has one of the most active eBird communities in the world. Anaverage of about 800 checklists are submitted for the country daily. As you can imagine, managing all of these records is a big job and eBird Canada has a team of dozens of volunteer regional editors across the country. One of the ways you can help make their jobs easier is to make sure that whenever you are out birding with others, you designate a single person to keep and submit the eBird checklists, and then share those checklists with each participant.
Bird Studies Canada recently signed an agreement with Regroupement QuébecOiseaux to establish a new collaborative eBird portal for the province of Québec. This portal will promote eBird to birdwatchers in Québec, while offering the same high-end tools already available throughout every eBird portal. This collaboration marks the start of a transition period for the ÉPOQ program (Études des populations d’Oiseaux du Québec), one of the longest-running bird checklist submission programs in the world, which was extensively used as inspiration in the early development of eBird.
We warmly welcome the Regroupement QuébecOiseaux to the eBird family in Canada and look forward to more participation from Québec birdwatchers on eBird!
eBird’s new Location Explorer is designed to be a “dashboard” overview for a region, quickly summarizing the information birders find most useful at the regional level (e.g., country, state, or county). You can keep track of recent birding activity, such as what’s happening at your favorite locations, who’s been birding lately, and explore recent checklist submissions. You can help plan your birding trips by discovering the best places to find birds in a region. You can compare your stats with those of other eBirders in a region, and see how your county, state, or country ranks compared to others. We encourage you to explore the world using eBird’s new Location Explorer!
Have you seen a flash of rust-tipped feathers under a bright yellow eye? Or perhaps you’ve enjoyed the dubiously melodious sound of a squeaky-hinge song? Previously a common sight in mixed-blackbird flocks and flooded forests, Rusty Blackbirds now face an unfortunate and remarkable notoriety; this species has endured a decline more severe than any other once-common landbird, with population decreases of 85-95% over the past half-century. Understanding the ecology of this vulnerable species is critical for developing strategies to reverse these declines and protect this species. The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz encourages you to bird for conservation- support an initiative to identify conservation challenges and develop strategies to conserve a vulnerable songbird!
This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic, encourages birders to explore new hotspots in their area. In September 2013 we released the Hotspot Explorer. The Hotspot Explorer provides a powerful way to access site-based data summaries, and is very helpful for planning trips to the best birding places. But for those who want to contribute a lot to eBird, the Hotspot Explorer also provides great tools to help you to find under-birded areas where your contributions will have the biggest impact. Below we give some tips on how to use the Hotspot Explorer to find under-birded hotspots near you. This month’s eBirder of the Month prize binocular will be drawn from those who have submitted at least one effort-based (i.e., not Incidental) complete checklist from each of 20 different hotspots this month. You can choose your own hotspots, but we hope you will focus on some that have very little activity for March.
Canada is a huge country and the geographic variation exhibited by our birds can be substantial. Perhaps no species displays a greater variability across the continent than the familiar Red-tailed Hawk. Sorting through the various subspecies of this well-known raptor can be a challenge for birders of all skill levels.
The least known (and least eBirded) seems to be the Northern Red-tailed Hawk. Jon Ruddy of Ottawa has put together an excellent summary which will hopefully encourage eBirders in eastern Canada to start watching for and reporting their observations of this beautiful bird!
February 14-17 (Friday to Monday) is the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). To participate, just go birding during this timeframe and make sure to enter your checklists in eBird. The GBBC was one of the first demonstrations that the internet could be used to collect bird checklists and was instrumental in the creation of eBird back in 2002. If you aren’t already excited about this weekend, this story gives some reasons why we think you should be. Working as a team, can we find 50% of the birds in the world on this single weekend?
Rock Pigeon will disappear from most checklists this week, and Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) will remain as the option to use in most of the world. Since eBird is a global system it needs to be consistent throughout the world. In the Old World, where Rock Pigeon is native, most observers draw distinctions between Feral Pigeons (city pigeons, typically with non-wild plumage phenotypes) and ‘wild type’ Rock Pigeons. The latter have become quite rare in many areas, so reporting them as “Rock Pigeon (Wild type)” is of interest. In most of the world, however, Rock Pigeons are derived from captive stock and should be reported as “Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)” to make this distinction. This includes all Rock Pigeons in the Americas, Australia, sub-Saharan Africa, many islands, and many other areas where Rock Pigeons are restricted to urban and agrarian areas and where Wild type Rock Pigeons do not occur.
Birdwatchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 14-17, 2014. Around the globe, tens of thousands of volunteers – of all ages and birding skill levels – will count birds in backyards, local parks, nature reserves, and wherever they happen to be. This free, family-friendly educational activity is loads of fun and supports bird conservation!