Two of the most challenging species to separate from each other during fall migration are the Blackpoll and Bay-breasted Warblers – so much so that observed individuals are often referred to by birders as “Baypolls”. In this article, Wisconsin warbler guru Tom Schultz (one of two illustrators of the Peterson Field Guide to Warblers of North America) breaks down key identification features for these confusing fall warblers. This article originally appeared on Wisconsin eBird.
There is no a better time than the present to raise global public awareness about the conservation of, and research about, shorebirds. About half of the world’s shorebird populations are in decline, and the rate of habitat loss is worse than ever before. Healthy populations of shorebirds mean healthy wetlands, something that thousands of human lives depend upon. Action on a global scale needs to be organized to encourage people to be connected with shorebirds, their spectacular life and their habitats. With this in mind ‘World Shorebirds’ Day‘ was created with the following aims: 1. To raise public awareness about the need to protect shorebirds and their habitats throughout their life cycles; 2. To raise public awareness about the need for ongoing shorebird research; 3. To connect people with shorebirds through important shorebird sites around the world; 4. To get shorebird enthusiasts to introduce shorebirds to more birdwatchers; and 5. To raise awareness about the need for increased funding for shorebird research, monitoring, and conservation. Originating out of Hungary and spreading across the planet, World Shorebirds Day is an international shorebird count conducted over one weekend to gauge the overall health of the world’s shorebird populations. Birders can count shorebirds at any site, and then enter their observations into eBird. Your data will then be accessible to the shorebird biologists associated with this project, as well as the broader science and conservation communities.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.