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Big Year Birding with eBird

Two generations of Big Year Birders - Neil Hayward (right) with Sandy Komito.
Half Moon Bay, July 28 2013.

Neil Hayward undertook an ABA Big Year in 2013, attempting to see more species than any other in a single year in the continental US and Canada. He at least matched the previous high of 748, and potentially exceeded it – pending the acceptance of two other species! Read on for a well-written detailed account of how his year went, and how modern technologies like eBird contributed to his success. We would like to thank Neil for his excellent recounting of his 2013 Big Year, and for taking the time to author this article for us. Enjoy!

BirdCast Regional Migration Forecasts – spring is here!

Spring has arrived in North America, as hard as that can be to believe in the northern regions of the continent. However, the BirdCast Regional Migration Forecasts have begun – and that means the birds can’t be far behind! Do you want to know what species of migrant birds will be showing up in your neck of the woods on any given week throughout the migration season? If so, tune in to BirdCast on Fridays for a weekly update on the Species on the Move in your region! These updates will also be posted on the eBird Facebook and Twitter pages – by following those pages you can get the same information! The BirdCast forecast highlights migrant species that you can expect to see in each of the regions covered: West; Great Plains; Upper Midwest and Northeast; and Gulf Coast and Southeast.

Here are links to each of the regions, where you can see what to expect in your backyard or favorite birding spot! All of these forecasts are generated with your eBird data, and wouldn’t be possible without eBirders like you!

Judy Groskind, February eBirder of the Month

Judy in her element, outside looking for birds!

Please join us in congratulating Judy Groskind of Carterville, IL, winner of the February 2015 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our February winner was drawn from among those who submitted at least 20 complete checklists from a single patch in the month of February. Judy entered 24 complete checklists, and her name was drawn randomly from the over 600 eBirders who achieved the patch checklist threshold.  Judy will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for her eBirding efforts. Her first response when notified that she had won was: “I’m so thrilled to win the binoculars. (The eyecup on mine is held on with duct tape, as I couldn’t bear to be without them for long enough to send them for repair.)” May these new ones serve you well, Judy! We asked Judy to tell us a little more about herself, her use of eBird, and her love of birds…

eBirding the World Big Year – February Update

Golden-backed Mountain-Tanager was one of Noah's February highlights. 17 Feb 2015. Photo by Noah Strycker.

In 2015, Noah Strycker is attempting to become the first person to see 5,000 species of birds—about half of the avian species on Earth—in one calendar year! Noah is a little over two months through 365 straight days of birding around the globe, with an itinerary covering 34 countries and all seven continents, on one continuous, all-out, global birding trip. To date he has covered Antarctica and much of South America, tallying 1390 species. Noah is using eBird to keep track of his sightings and to help strategize during his quest, as well as to connect with many other birders as he travels. You can see his daily blog accounts on Birding Without Borders. He has been kind enough to write up a summary of his travels on a monthly basis – his recounting of February can be found below!

March eBirder of the Month Challenge


This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, focuses on waterfowl! Across much of the globe, March heralds the initial travels of ducks, geese, and swans between their winter haunts and breeding grounds. To help us learn more about the patterns of these migrations worldwide, the challenge this month involves submitting checklists with waterfowl on them. We define waterfowl as any species listed under the “Waterfowl” subheading in your eBird checklist during the submission process (families Anseranatidae and Anatidae). The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit at least 20 complete checklists that contain one or more species of waterfowl. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

“Getting Rusty” Take Two: Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz 2015

As temperatures creep above freezing and crocuses push through thawing earth on southern lawns, a sea change in avian behavior also begins, as many of our winter residents prepare for the long northward journey to their breeding grounds. For the second year in a row, many birders will spend these spring months searching for a historically unheralded black bird that squeaked, chucked, and gurgled through wooded wetlands and agricultural fields in the southeastern United States during the winter months. Soon, this much-overlooked bird will begin its spring migration to remote wetlands nestled within boreal forests of northern North America, and thousands of eBirders will document this journey. Of course, this bird, with its rust-tipped feathers and squeaky-hinge song, is the Rusty Blackbird, a species that represents both a conservation challenge and an environmental mystery. The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz urges birders to find and report this bird to support an international initiative to conserve this enigmatic and vulnerable songbird.

eBird Quizzes, Social Media


Back in the earlier days of the eBird project, there were several “Range Map quiz” features, where you figured out the species at hand from nothing but an image of the eBird Species Map. This was a popular item at the time, and we are pleased to announce its return! This is intended to be a regular feature, and we hope that you enjoy the challenge.  This first quiz will be posted here on the front page, but all future range map quizzes will be announced on the eBird Facebook and Twitter pages – more details below.

eBird Featured Hotspot – Indiana Dunes State Park

Indiana Dunes has potentially the second-highest single-day count of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ever – 346!

We are pleased to introduce a new periodic series in eBird – the eBird Featured Hotspot. This is intended as a means to highlight an eBird Hotspot somewhere on the globe, showcasing a location that illustrates an area of conservation concern, exemplary birding opportunities, or interesting research. Hotspots are public birding locations created by eBird users, and are used to centralize the sightings in an area. Hotspots do not have to be incredible birding locations, instead they are simply public locations that may be worth visiting. You can read more about Hotspots in our Help Center Hotspot article.  If you have an idea for a future Hotspot to feature, please email us with your suggestion. This month’s eBird Featured Hotspot is on the Indiana Dunes Longshore Count Project, a research project conducted by Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Indiana, US!

Identifying hybrid Mottled Ducks

If you have ever gone birding in Florida, are currently birding in Florida, or will some day go birding in Florida, this is a must-read! Even if you bird elsewhere in the range of Mottled Duck (e.g., Texas coast), this essay written by Tony Leukering and Bill Pranty is a great help in identifying the features to look for in hybrid Mottled Duck x Mallards, which can be quite common in some regions. Most importantly, it points out the fact that many birds identified as Mottled Ducks are in fact “Muddled” Ducks! Read on for more information, and to download this extensively detailed identification article.

Scott Deckelmann, January 2015 Zeiss eBirder of the Month

Scott birding with his dad at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon

Please join us in congratulating Scott Deckelmann of Portland, Oregon, winner of the January 2015 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic.At the end of December we posted our article about making eBird your New Year’s Resolution. As a follow-up of that post and sentiment, our under-the-radar challenge for January was to submit at least 50 complete checklists over the course of the month. Scott’s name was drawn randomly from the almost 1500 people who submitted over 50 checklists in the month of January! Scott will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked Scott to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – check out his story below!