In 2015, Noah Strycker is attempting 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 is a little over two months through 365 straight days of birding around the globe, with an itinerary covering 34 countries and all seven continents, on one continuous, all-out, global birding trip. To date he has covered Antarctica and much of South America, tallying 1390 species. Noah is using eBird to keep track of his sightings and to help strategize during his quest, as well as to connect with many other birders as he travels. You can see his daily blog accounts on Birding Without Borders. He has been kind enough to write up a summary of his travels on a monthly basis – his recounting of February can be found below!
This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, focuses on waterfowl! Across much of the globe, March heralds the initial travels of ducks, geese, and swans between their winter haunts and breeding grounds. To help us learn more about the patterns of these migrations worldwide, the challenge this month involves submitting checklists with waterfowl on them. We define waterfowl as any species listed under the “Waterfowl” subheading in your eBird checklist during the submission process (families Anseranatidae and Anatidae). The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit at least 20 complete checklists that contain one or more species of waterfowl. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.
As temperatures creep above freezing and crocuses push through thawing earth on southern lawns, a sea change in avian behavior also begins, as many of our winter residents prepare for the long northward journey to their breeding grounds. For the second year in a row, many birders will spend these spring months searching for a historically unheralded black bird that squeaked, chucked, and gurgled through wooded wetlands and agricultural fields in the southeastern United States during the winter months. Soon, this much-overlooked bird will begin its spring migration to remote wetlands nestled within boreal forests of northern North America, and thousands of eBirders will document this journey. Of course, this bird, with its rust-tipped feathers and squeaky-hinge song, is the Rusty Blackbird, a species that represents both a conservation challenge and an environmental mystery. The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz urges birders to find and report this bird to support an international initiative to conserve this enigmatic and vulnerable songbird.
Back in the earlier days of the eBird project, there were several “Range Map quiz” features, where you figured out the species at hand from nothing but an image of the eBird Species Map. This was a popular item at the time, and we are pleased to announce its return! This is intended to be a regular feature, and we hope that you enjoy the challenge. This first quiz will be posted here on the front page, but all future range map quizzes will be announced on the eBird Facebook and Twitter pages – more details below.
We are pleased to introduce a new periodic series in eBird – the eBird Featured Hotspot. This is intended as a means to highlight an eBird Hotspot somewhere on the globe, showcasing a location that illustrates an area of conservation concern, exemplary birding opportunities, or interesting research. Hotspots are public birding locations created by eBird users, and are used to centralize the sightings in an area. Hotspots do not have to be incredible birding locations, instead they are simply public locations that may be worth visiting. You can read more about Hotspots in our Help Center Hotspot article. If you have an idea for a future Hotspot to feature, please email us with your suggestion. This month’s eBird Featured Hotspot is on the Indiana Dunes Longshore Count Project, a research project conducted by Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Indiana, US!
If you have ever gone birding in Florida, are currently birding in Florida, or will some day go birding in Florida, this is a must-read! Even if you bird elsewhere in the range of Mottled Duck (e.g., Texas coast), this essay written by Tony Leukering and Bill Pranty is a great help in identifying the features to look for in hybrid Mottled Duck x Mallards, which can be quite common in some regions. Most importantly, it points out the fact that many birds identified as Mottled Ducks are in fact “Muddled” Ducks! Read on for more information, and to download this extensively detailed identification article.
Please join us in congratulating Scott Deckelmann of Portland, Oregon, winner of the January 2015 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic.At the end of December we posted our article about making eBird your New Year’s Resolution. As a follow-up of that post and sentiment, our under-the-radar challenge for January was to submit at least 50 complete checklists over the course of the month. Scott’s name was drawn randomly from the almost 1500 people who submitted over 50 checklists in the month of January! Scott will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked Scott to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – check out his story below!
Please join us in congratulating Jonathan (Jon.) Anderson of Olympia, WA, winner of the December 2014 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our December winner was drawn from among those who submitted 500 complete checklists or more between 1 January–31 December 2014. Jon. entered 550 complete checklists, and his name was drawn randomly from the almost 1000 eBirders who reached that checklist threshold in 2014. We were very impressed with the quality of his eBird checklists as well (lots of notes and photos), so thank you Jon. for setting such a high standard with your submissions! Jon. will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked Jon. to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – check out his response below!
February 13-16 (Friday through Monday) is the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). To participate, just go birding during this timeframe and make sure to enter your checklists in eBird. The GBBC was one of the first demonstrations that the Internet could be used to collect bird checklists and was instrumental in the creation of eBird back in 2002. For 2015, we really want the GBBC weekend to focus on sharing your knowledge with others. Do you have a friend or family member who has always wanted to go birding with you? Someone you should teach to use eBird? Someone you think you could turn on to birds and share your sense of wonder with? Make the GBBC the weekend where you pick up the phone and invite him or her along.
The year is off to a good start! In January I visited parts of Antarctica, the Drake Passage, the Falkland Islands, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, and ended the month with 718 species – not a bad beginning, considering I spent the first two weeks of the year in some relatively un-diverse places. The species total started to kick into gear when I hit Argentina and Brazil during the second half of the month, and should keep ramping up as I work my way through the South and Central American tropics in February, March, and April.