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Maggie Smith, September 2014 eBirder of the Month

Maggie Smith

Please join us in congratulating Maggie Smith of Arroyo Grande, California, winner of the September 2014 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Maggie’s name was drawn randomly from the 726 people who submitted at least twenty checklists from their patch during September. Maggie will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular and a selection of books from Princeton University Press. We asked Maggie to tell us a little more about her patch birding below.

Winter Finch Forecast 2014-2015

Purple Finch

As days shorten and cooler temperatures descend, we are pleased to welcome one of our Autumn highlights: Ron Pittaway’s Winter Finch Forecast. While 2012-2013 was an epic finch flight, last winter (2013-2014) was the winter of no finch movements. Fortunately, this winter will be better than last! Here’s the forecast: This winter’s theme is a “mixed bag” of finch movements. For example, some species such as Purple Finch will go south while White-winged Crossbills will likely stay in the boreal forest in widely separated areas where spruces are laden with cones. Common Redpolls should move into southern Canada and the northern states because birch seed crops are thin to average across the north. See individual finch forecasts below for details.

Migration Watch–The October Zeiss eBirder of the Month Challenge

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon, CA. Photograph by Brian L. Sullivan.

This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic, focuses on migration birding. October is a spectacular month for migration around the world. At certain places, geography and weather conspire to concentrate migrants in huge numbers. While migration is most visible at these great concentration points, many birds move in a broad front across the interior of continents during October, and birders everywhere can do a great job of capturing this by entering their data into eBird. The idea behind this competition is to look for signs of visible migration at your favorite birding sites by conducting stationary counts of at least 1 hour duration, and recording all high flying migrants as ‘fly-overs’ on each checklist you submit. Each 1-hr+ stationary count will be entered into a pool of checklist submissions, from which the winning checklist will be drawn. So the more of these you do, the more likely you are to win. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month. Read on to find out more.

eBird’s missing species — September 2014 update

Omani Owl photo by Arnoud van den Berg and The Sound Approach.

A lot has happened since our July 2014 article on “eBird’s Missing Species.” Shortly after our article was published, the August 2014 taxonomic update (which follows version 6.9 of the Clements Checklist) added 35 new species to the missing species list, mostly resulting from species splits. And over the past 45 days, dozens of birders have stepped up to enter records of the rare and little-known species that we highlighted. Thanks to your efforts, 92 species were added to eBird for the first time! That said, there’s still a lot of work to be done and 330 species still lack a valid record in eBird. For your enjoyment and inspiration, this article highlights the progress we’ve made and what has yet to be reported.

Identifying Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warblers

Bay-breasted Warbler

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.

Participate in World Shorebirds Day this weekend!

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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.

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

GBIF

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?