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Birding in the 21st Century.

News and Features

Post-doc sought to model species occurrence with eBird data

Wood Thrush occurrence

The Information Science Program at the Lab of Ornithology and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center are currently seeking a joint Post-doctoral Associate to be based at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca NY. Duties would include: Conduct original research in the field of statistics and machine learning to advance the understanding of species distributions for ecological studies and conservation planning. Successful applicants are expected to develop innovative methods to estimate patterns of species abundance through space and time and utilizing the unique data resources available through the Information Science program. In particular, conducting research using the eBird database, the largest ecological crowdsourced database currently available.

September eBirder of the Month Challenge

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This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic, focuses on patch birding. The idea behind patch birding is to pick a location and bird it frequently. By carefully checking the same area repeatedly, you will notice species and behaviors that could be easily missed. September is one of the most exciting months of the year and careful checking of the same location is sure to reveal a wide variety of species. To sign up for a patch, click on the Add a Patch link from the My Patch Lists page and select the locations that are part of your  patch. If you already have a patch, there is no need to register.  This month’s winner will be drawn from eBirders who submit at least 20 complete checklists from a patch this month (September 2014).  Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month (Including our August winner from our team of reviewers). Read on to find out more.

A half a billion biodiversity records

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Recently, eBird updated the data we share and publish through the Global Biodiversity Facility (GBIF), an international infrastructure that provides open access to biodiversity data. One result of this refresh is that data accessible through GBIF’s network now exceeds 500 million records—a true milestone for access to biodiversity information. This short article explains how data are made available and includes an interactive map showing where observations come from.

Help us build eBird Targets

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Suppose you are traveling to Japan and want to know what species are most likely during August-September that would be new for you. Or you want to know what species are most likely for your county year list so you can look for them this month. That’s the idea behind eBird Targets. You pick the region and months of interest, and eBird will give you a list of the most likely new birds. We compare your eBird species lists with those of everyone else to figure out what some of the most likely additions are. Sounds awesome, right? Will you help us build it?

BirdQuest: A way to engage kids in eBird

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Our BirdSleuth K-12 team has developed a new resource that will help groups of young people engage with eBird. We encourage you to take a crew of kids out on an adventure with their colorful Bird Quest booklet: can your group complete all six challenges, from meeting eBird to doing and submitting a count, to taking action by improving your habitat for birds? Free download here.

Heather Ketebengang, July 2014 eBirder of the Month

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Please join us in congratulating Heather Ketebengang of the Palau Conservation Society, Palau, our winner of the July 2014 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Heather was selected in a random drawing that included each of the 1030 eBirders who submitted at least 50 checklists during the month of July (checklists for earlier time periods, submitted during July do count). When we notified Heather that she won, she wrote “Alii from Palau and Thank you! I was surprised and thrilled to hear that I’m a winner of the July eBirder of the Month Challenge. It is an honor to be a part of a great program.”

Attention iOS and Android Developers: Join eBird & the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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Are you an iOS or Android Developer? Do you know one? We have two new positions, one for an iOS developer and another for an Android developer to work on eBird and Merlin. Upcoming projects will focus on improving the ability to enter checklists from the field and extending the Merlin app to add image-recognition functionality for identifying birds in the field with photos that were “just taken”. Both position will work closely with the eBird and Merlin project leaders, UI designers, application developers, database administrators, computer scientists in a collaborative development environment. We want to find the best people possible for these important positions, so please send this information to anyone you think may be interested. More information on the iOS developer position is available here, and on the Android developer here. To apply for the position, please refer to Jobs at Cornell. For more information contact Sue Taggart.

Taxonomy update for 2014

For American birders, large rail splits are most likely to give Life Lists a boost in this revision. Be careful reporting Clapper Rail: it should only be used for East Coast and Gulf Coast birds now! Photo of Clapper Rail in Massachusetts by Ryan Schain.

The taxonomic update for 2014 is now complete in eBird. The names and sequence have been changed and eBird records have been updated in cases of splits and lumps. This update includes taxonomic revisions introduced (or accepted) since August 2013 by the two committees of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the North American Classification Committee (NACC) and the South American Classification Committee (SACC), including several splits detailed below. In North America the most significant change was the split of Clapper Rail into Clapper, Ridgway’s, and Mangrove Rails and the split of King Rail into King and Aztec Rails. In the tropical Americas, Sirystes was split into four species, Bicolored Antbird was split into two, and Knipolegus black-tyrants were revised, among others. In Eurasia, Mourning Wheatear was split into three species, Arctic Warbler was split into three species (two occur in North America, one as a breeder and one as a vagrant or rare migrant) and Two-barred Warbler was split from Greenish Warbler.

Caleb Frome, Zeiss YBN eBirding Challenge Winner

Caleb Frome

Please join us in congratulating Caleb Frome of Richarson, Texas, winner of the YBN eBirding Challenge sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Caleb submitted over 100 complete checklists between 1 January and 30 June to become eligible and his name was then drawn at random. He will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular. To be eligible for the fall semester competition for young birders, enter 100 complete checklists into eBird between July 1st and December 31st, 2014. At least one of these checklists must be entered through the YBN portal. Additional checklists may be entered through any eBird portal and BirdLog. We will draw the winner from the pool of contestants who have submitted at least 100 complete checklists during the term. Winners must be under the age of 21 on July 1st 2014.  But now onto this month’s winner. We’ve asked Caleb to tell us a bit about himself.

Taxonomy updating now!

King Rail is split into Aztec and King Rails, which are very similar but do not overlap in range. This King Rail was photographed in Massachusetts. Photo by Marshall Iliff.

The eBird taxonomy is updating today (4 Aug 2014) and the process will continue for at least a couple days (until Tuesday, 5 Aug or Wednesday, 6 Aug). We do this once a year to take into account splits, lumps, name changes, and changes in the sequence of the species lists. You may notice some unusual behavior with your lists and other tools (see below), but this is nothing to worry about. Within a few days the process should be complete. Please bear with us while we update the many database tables that we use in eBird. The eBird taxonomy uses the Clements/eBird Checklist; the integrated Clements/eBird Checklist includes all taxa, while the eBird lists includes those options useful for checklist reporting (scoter sp., Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher, certain hybrids, etc.) and the Clements Checklist includes only species, subspecies groups, and subspecies (eBird does not include subspecies unless part of a field-identifiable subspecies group).