Please join us in congratulating Deborah House of Bishop, California, winner of the August 2017 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Our August winner was drawn from eBirders who submitted 31 or more eligible checklists in August. Deborah’s name was drawn randomly from the 5,498 eligible eBirders who achieved the August challenge threshold. Deborah will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for her eBirding efforts. Read more to see Deborah’s full story!
It is with heavy hearts that we at Team eBird recognize the passing of one of our best and longest-standing contributors–Bill Pulliam. For the last decade Bill worked tirelessly to promote eBird, both in his home state of Tennessee and beyond. Bill gave countless volunteer hours to eBird as an observer, an exemplary regional editor, and mentor to new regional editors. Bill led by example by submitting lists with high precision and detail and used this as a tool in working with observers. His approach to being an eBird reviewer was always positive and he encouraged and challenged observers to increase the quality of details about sightings. Bill’s influence with observers across Tennessee is apparent in the quality of the database and with those following in his footsteps. Bill was also actively engaged in discussions about eBird development and data quality, always driving us to do better, and often providing unique and valuable perspectives that were always well-reasoned, appreciated, and delivered with class. We greatly value the input he provided to this project, and the unshakable commitment he had to what we are trying to accomplish together with eBird. Bill’s passing is a huge loss to the Tennessee birding community, and indeed to our global eBird community. However, Bill left a lasting legacy with his friends and colleagues across Tennessee, the country, and the world. He will be greatly missed by all, and our hearts go out to his family and friends.
What if, instead of buying habitat, conservationists could rent it when and where migratory birds need it most? eBird data is playing a critical role in helping make this a reality, enabling new cost-effective approaches to complementing protected areas with ‘pop-up’ wetlands. This work has just been published in Science Advances, “Dynamic conservation for migratory species.” To pinpoint where and when migrating shorebirds most need habitats in California’s Central Valley, scientists at The Nature Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Point Blue Conservation Science used models based on eBird data on shorebirds and NASA satellite data on surface pattern of wetlands and flooded agricultural fields.
Want to work on your bird identification skills? After you’ve mastered size and shape in the first Be a Better Birder course, color and pattern are the next best clues. We’re excited to partner with the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy to offer a suite of educational resources in thanks for your eBirding: in September, every eligible checklist that you submit gives you a chance to win free access to the online self-paced course Be a Better Birder: Color and Pattern.
This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, will keep your eyes and ears trained upwards. As the seasons turn over in September, the movement of birds begins perhaps the best part of a birder’s year: migration. Whether you’re enjoying a northern autumn or an austral spring, things are happening! Migratory restlessness may result in local movements of 10s of kilometers, or herculean journeys that take shorebirds from the Arctic to the edge of the southern continents. The most amazing part of all of this is that you can witness it, wherever you are. The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists in September containing at least one “Flyover” code. Checklists must be for observations during this month; not historical checklists entered during September. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.
Last November we were able to offer a trip for one lucky eBirder to Trinidad and Tobago, thanks to the generous sponsorship by the Asa Wright Nature Centre, JetBlue, Caligo Ventures, and the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Board. David Fees was the lucky winner, and he wrote up a nice summary of the time there with his wife Debbie. Thanks to everyone who took part in the giveaway, and keep an eye out in the future for similar offers!
Have you wondered what birds do during a total eclipse? You’re not alone. Thanks to your eclipse eBirding, we’re closer than ever before to knowing the answer. It turns out that, unsurprisingly, many birds reacted to a sudden obscuring of the sun and the resulting 360-degree ‘sunset’. Thanks to the team at BirdCast, we have interactive eclipse bird behavior results from your eBird checklists on Aug 21 during the North American total eclipse. Read first-hand accounts of swifts and swallows dropping out of the skies; nighthawks and owls coming out to call and feed; and herons, hawks, and doves going to roost in the middle of the day.
The eBird taxonomy update is essentially COMPLETE. All major changes have occurred, and we have only a small number of minor changes yet to make. This may affect the lists of a very small number of users as we implement these over the next few days. We do this update once each year, taking into account the past 12 months of recent taxonomic knowledge on splits, lumps, name changes, and changes in the sequence of the species lists. As of this point, all eBird data will be reflecting the new taxonomy. This includes your My eBird lists, range maps, bar charts, region and hotspot lists, and data entry. eBird Mobile should also be updated to the new taxonomy. If you see unfamiliar bird names in the list, please refer to the story below to understand the change and why it happened. In addition, we list a number of new options for data entry (hybrids, spuhs, slashes, etc.), all of which are listed below.
On 21 August, a solar eclipse will be visible across North America, as well as parts of northern South America, western Africa, and western Europe. Check your location on this map to see when the eclipse will be visible, and what percentage of the sun will be obscured. Past solar eclipses have featured accounts of strange bird behavior: unusual song, lack of song, roosting behavior, frantic flight, and more. For this eclipse, we want to see what information we can add through your eBird checklists. If you’re going to be in area that is eclipsed on 21 Aug, please go eBirding! Submit complete checklists that are stationary, and between 5-10 minutes in duration. If you’re going to be in the totality zone, please submit a 3-minute checklist for the actual totality. We currently don’t have any plans for analyzing these data, but as long as you collect it, anyone can analyze it! An additional, fun challenge? Get a shot of a bird in front of the eclipse. We’ll be trying at our local patches. Enjoy!
Every year a group of passionate, dedicated, young birders descends on the Cornell Lab for a long weekend in early July. For many of us here at the Lab, this is one of the best weekends of the year. The Cornell Lab Young Birders Event focuses on providing information for those who may be interested in pursuing a career with birds, while also helping build lifelong connections among the youth birding community. One of the attendees of this year’s YBE, Max Hellicar, authored an excellent account of his several days here. Thanks to the Cameron Bespolka Trust for making Max’s visit possible. See Max’s story here (PDF). For those of you that are young birders, or know one, please check back in January for details on next year’s Young Birders Event. We hope to see you there.