The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is excited to host our annual Young Birders Event, which will be held July 16 – 19, 2015 in Ithaca, New York. The Young Birders Event aims to bring together teenagers (students who will be sophomores, juniors and seniors) with a passion for birds who are interested in pursuing a career with birds. The participants will meet people who have successful careers that involve birds in a variety of ways from ornithological researchers to tour leaders, to audio specialists and computer scientists. To apply fill out the application form and return it by 1 April 2015. Sixteen young birders will be selected and notified in mid-April. Please share this information with any young birders you know! Thanks to our sponsors of the Young Birders Event: Carl Zeiss Sport Optics, Princeton University Press and the Wild Birds Unlimited at Sapsucker Woods.
We are pleased to welcome Ian Davies to Team eBird. Ian will help with all aspects of coordinating the eBird project, with a particular focus on outreach and improving the Help Center to answer questions. Ian is an avid birder, photographer, and conservationist. He has been birding since age 12, when he got interested in birds at the Manomet Bird Observatory in Massachusetts. Since that time he has traveled throughout Latin America as well as trips to Asia and Africa in pursuit of all things feathered. He has worked field biology jobs from banding migrant songbirds in Massachusetts to nest searching for shorebirds in the Arctic NWR of Alaska. He enjoys poring through large flocks of gulls for rarities, standing in forests listening to dawn chorus, and long walks on the beach with shorebirds. His involvement with eBird began with submitting checklists back in 2007, progressing onwards from there to a regional reviewer, hotspot editor, and now a proud member of Team eBird at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology! Please join us in welcoming Ian to the team. And check out some of his photos here.
Today, Oregon-based birder and writer Noah Strycker begins a planetary adventure: In 2015, he will try 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 plans to spend the next 365 straight days birding around the globe, with an itinerary covering 34 countries and all seven continents, on one continuous, all-out, worldwide birding trip. He kicks off this New Year in Antarctica, hoping for a strong start with several species of penguins.
eBird was released in 2002 but took its current form in 2005. The eBird that we all know and love will be ten years old in 2015. We hear from hundreds of people each year who tell us how eBird has changed their birding habits for the better, has taught them about bird occurrence in their area and on their travels, has helped them learn birds, and has made their birding more fun. We also hear from hundreds who say that they want to submit to eBird more often or that they “keep meaning to get started” but have yet to “take the plunge”. Together, let’s make 2015 the year of no regrets! For 2015, make your New Year’s Resolution to use eBird for the entire year!
Over the years at eBird, we’ve found that one simple equation always holds true: birders + competitive spirit = more data for science and conservation. Many birders enjoy friendly competition. It inspires us to challenge ourselves, to push our birding skills to the max, and most importantly, to get in the field as much as we can. But what might seem to be frivolous games to many, in fact generate hundreds of thousands of complete checklists that are of high value for science and conservation. In 2015, consider challenging your friends to a friendly local eBirding competition. Read more for a few ideas.
Anyone who regularly submits to eBird has surely come to understand our data quality process. Typos happen, misidentifications happen, and well-intentioned eBirders sometimes just make mistakes. All of us at Team eBird have done it and will do it again. Mistakes are part of birding. We have a two-tiered approach to help prevent erroneous data. First, automated filters check your submission to highlight any observations or counts that are unusual for the time and place. Our confirm message (online) or checkbox (BirdLog) give a chance to stop and think about your unusual report. If you confirm the record, the second tier is our team of volunteer reviewers, who work tirelessly to help eBird information be as accurate and authoritative as possible. As part of our eBirder of the Month awards, we reserved the August award to give to an exceptional eBird reviewer. Please join us in thanking all of our reviewers, and especially Amy McDonald, our 2014 eBird Reviewer of the Year.
In appreciation for all those who have participated in eBird, we are pleased to offer special discounted subscriptions to the acclaimed bird life history resource: Birds of North America Online. This comprehensive resource includes information on distribution, breeding, migration, habitats, and behavior for over 700 different species of birds that breed in Canada and the United States. The accounts include photos and audio selections for all species covered. For those who would like to sign-up for a full subscription or to renew a current subscription, BNA Online is now available at the discounted rate of $25 for a 1 year subscription, $50 for a 2 year subscription and $75 for a three year subscription. Read on to find out more.
Here is a great opportunity to show off your birding skills – enter The Parade of Plumage Challenge. The National Museum of Wildlife Art, University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute and the University of Wyoming Museum of Vertebrates are challenging you to identify the species depicted in Francois Nicolas Martinet’s 18th century engravings. Martinet illustrated the works of some of the great naturalists of his time, including Buffon, Ray and Brisson. More details, including a description of the fabulous prizes, can be found by visiting http://www.paradeofplumage.com/ The challenge ends on 31 December 2014.
Please join us in congratulating Jeff Bleam of Boulder Creek, California, winner of the November 2014 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Jeff’s name was drawn randomly from the more than 3400 people who submitted checklists from at least 75 different locations in 2014. Jeff will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars and a selection of books from Princeton University Press. We asked Jeff to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds below.
Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season is upon us again! This is a great time to join others and cooperate in a massive effort across the Western Hemisphere to take a snapshot of bird occurrence around the holidays. For three weeks each year (14 December to 5 January) tens of thousands of birders head out to conduct the CBC. These counts are cooperative efforts to get the best count of birds in a single 15-mile diameter circle. They depend upon the efforts of multiple parties of observers each checking different parts of the count circle. Compilers add the efforts of the various teams together and assemble a final count total, which can be compared to totals for the past 114 years to understand changes in bird populations. eBird collects data at a finer scale and from single parties of birders. We invite each group to submit their single-party lists to eBird. Read on for guidance on best practices for submitting your CBC to eBird.