As of early June 2014, eBird’s database included validated records for an amazing 9902 species. The August 2013 eBird taxonomy (following version 6.8 of the Clements Checklist) recognizes 10,324 species of birds worldwide, so this amounts to roughly 96% of the world’s bird species with at least one confirmed record entered into eBird. Below we investigate the 4% that have yet to be recorded in eBird—a snapshot of the most isolated, elusive, threatened, and under-studied birds in the world. If you are a world birder and spot any species on this list that you have seen, please get those records in eBird!
Please join us in congratulating Ken Burdick of Skaneateles, NY, USA, winner of the June 2014 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. We were thrilled to find that 4665 eBirders submitted 31,185 checklists with at least one breeding code (out of 188,907 checklists in June 2014; 17%). We were very pleased with these numbers. We are currently working on improving eBird output to better record breeding codes and to start displaying these results on a map. This big push in June will help tremendously. We hope southern hemisphere birders will submit some breeding codes this coming summer (the boreal winter) as well! Please continue to report breeding codes where relevant and stay tuned for those eBird enhancements. Ken’s name was drawn randomly from among everyone who breeding codes this past month. We loved Ken’s response when we notified him of the win: “Wow, I didn’t ever expect to win one of the eBird contests, and am still somewhat dumb-struck. I am certainly delighted to be selected for this prize.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.