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Sea Ducks from Carolinas and Georgia Coast

Male Black Scoters

This summer observers have reported an unusually large number of sea ducks along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Georgia. The majority of individuals are first year birds, although some adults are being observed. South Carolina wildlife officials have received reports of more than 100 dead sea ducks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, will be flying aerial surveys to estimate of the number of sea ducks summering along the southeast coast. To help this effort, we encourage the submission of sightings of Black, Surf and White-winged Scoters, as well as any other sea ducks, between Oregon Inlet, NC and the south end of Jekyll Island, GA. This will help target flights. Please be sure to submit checklists from stops in this region even if you do not record any sea ducks. As always, complete checklists reporting all species of birds are the most helpful.

eBird on the Road with Birds of Passage

Ocellated Quail

Kathi Borgmann and Josh Beck have been eBirding on the road for the last 12 months, logging birds nearly every day from Baja California to Panama. They have submitted over 520 checklists, observed over 1,125 species, and even ranked as the number one eBirders for Mexico in 2013. How do they eBird on the road? Kathi and Josh tell us how.

July eBird Challenge

This Little Egret was first discovered 5 July 2012 at Récré-O-Parc, Quebec and remained until at least 17 August. Photo Chris Wood, 14 July 2012.

July is hot. And humid. And July can also be downright buggy. So perhaps it is understandable why July is the month with fewer people participating in eBird than any other month. There are also fewer checklists submitted on an average day in July than any other day of the year. But July provides fascinating birding — perhaps some of the most interesting birding of the year. Many species are already on the move, with adult shorebirds moving in large numbers. In the West, molt migrants are headed to West Mexico where monsoonal moisture produces an abundance of food. Dispersing landbirds elsewhere can provide unexpected surprises. Herons, egrets and other wading birds disperse northward. Juvenile raptors also disperse in large numbers, although such movements are rarely appreciated by birders. So this month, we challenge you to submit 50 checklists. If you do, you will be eligible for this month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Our winner will be drawn from eBirders who submit at least 50 complete checklists this month (July 2014). Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month. Read on to find out more.

Storm Birding: Hurricane Arthur

NOAA predicted path of Hurricane Arthur, posted 3 July 2014 2pm EDT

With a month of the official hurricane season already in the books, Hurricane Arthur arrives on the scene. This Category One storm is forecast to graze the Outer Banks of North Carolina before shooting off to the Northeast through the Canadian Maritimes toward Greenland. This feature on BirdCast provides a short overview of what we may expect. Any birders chasing storm birds should exercise extreme caution and make safety the number one priority. Even a Category One storm can be dangerous. With this in mind, the best birding and the greatest chance to encounter entrained and displaced birds is in the hours directly after the center of circulation passes. Many storm birds seek to reorient immediately, and by the morning following the storm’s passage many storm waifs will be long on their ways back to their origins. Please see the second half of our feature on Hurricane Irene in 2011, entitled “Hurricane Birding–an eBird Primer” for more detailed discussions about hurricanes and birding in and around them.

New study uses eBird to understand role of urban and agricultural areas during migration

GEB12199

A new study in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography by Frank La Sorte, Morgan Tingley, and Allen Hurlbert uses eBird data to examine patterns of species richness and species composition within different land-use categories across the annual cycle in North America. The study contrasts how bird communities change from month-to-month within agricultural and urban areas and also within areas of intact vegetation such as forests or grasslands. The authors found that human transformed landscapes contained fewer species and had lower turnover in species composition across the annual cycle relative to areas of intact vegetation. These differences were particularly pronounced for bird communities located in the western portion of the continent. This is the first study to examine how human land-use change has impacted bird diversity across the full annual cycle, and the study’s findings highlight the importance of agricultural and urban areas for migratory birds, especially in the eastern portion of the continent.

eBird Preferences – species names, Top 100 and more

Egyptian Vulture, Eilat Mountains, Israel, 28 March 2014

On the top left of most eBird pages is a little link that you may not have noticed – Preferences. This is where you can customize how species names appear in eBird – whether you want Common Names, Scientific Names, or both. The default English names follow the Clements Checklist, but you can change the Common names (6 versions of English, 9 versions of Spanish, French, Icelandic, Turkish, and Chinese to name a few) as well. You can subscribe to our eBird Newsletter, allow checklist comments to be public, and decide whether or not to participate in the Top 100. This short article discusses these options in eBird Preferences and how they can be set to better customize your eBird experience.

Tom McNeil, May 2014 eBirder of the Month

Tom McNeil and his partner Cathy Myers at one of 117 locations where he submitted a checklist during May 2014.

Please join us in congratulating Tom McNeil of Elizabethton, TN, USA, winner of the May 2014 eBird challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. 328 birders submitted at least 100 checklists during the month of May and Tom’s name was drawn at random from this group. We asked Tom to let us know a bit more about how it’s possible to submit over 100 checklists a month.

Changes to Flickr embed code

Tree Pipit

A large number of eBirders are now adding photos to their checklists, and this has made interacting with eBird much more fun. It is also a tremendous help to our tireless review team, who can use the photos to assess records rare birds reported. Please keep including photos in your checklists! However, one of the primary sites used by eBirders, Flickr (www.flickr.com) has yet again changed the process for photo embedding. This story provides a quick review in how to embed photos using the newest version of Flickr. Note that over the next year, eBird will be working on improving how photos are added to checklists to make it easier, more versatile, and less reliant on third-party websites that regularly change their code.

June eBird Challenge

Piping Plover chick, Cape Cod, MA

While May is usually our biggest month for eBird data, June is usually one of our lowest. But June is a great month for birding! In many areas in the Northern Hemisphere, spring migration wraps up in the beginning days of June and fall shorebird migration starts getting underway by the end of the month. All month long, June is a great month for finding vagrants. And it is a superb month for studying breeding behavior of birds. Most of all this is a great time for breeding birds, so this month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic will encourage you to help fill out breeding info in eBird. This month’s winner will be drawn from among all complete, effort-based checklists from June 2014 that include breeding codes. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month. Read on to find out more.

Chris Peak, April 2014 eBirder of the Month

Lesser Nighthawk. Photograph by Brian Sullivan.

Please join us in congratulating Chris Peak of Simpsonville, South Carolina, USA, winner of the April 2014 eBird challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Chris submitted this checklist, which was selected at random from thousands of checklists that met the criteria for our April challenge. The April Zeiss challenge focused on submitting “stationary counts” of at least 1 hour duration, with the goal of documenting visible bird migration at locations ranging from well known birding hotspots to people’s own backyards. While Chris’s list didn’t include any obvious examples of sky-high migrants, we can learn a lot from it. Chris’s checklist tells us that at this particular point in space and time, diurnal bird migration was not in evidence. And that’s an important thing to know when you’re trying to understand species occurrence patterns across very large stretches of space and time. Sometimes we don’t find exactly what we’re seeking, in this case, diurnal migrants. But as birders it’s the search that’s exciting, and when you use eBird that search makes every observation valuable!