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Birding in the 21st Century.

News and Features

Hurricane Newton: tubenoses in the desert

Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel at Patagonia Lake State Park. Photo by Chris McCreedy/Macaulay Library.

For some birders who live inland, the August-October period often brings around a strange yearning: the want for massive, untamed hurricanes. These enormous storms can bring incredibly rare birds; once-in-a-lifetime birding events that can include species that you may normally have to go dozens or hundreds of miles offshore to see. Earlier this month, Arizona realized this hurricane dream, giving some lucky birders a pelagic trip more than 100 miles from the sea, in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. We’re excited to share four first-hand accounts of birding in Newton‘s aftermath—including tales of Pterodroma petrels over yards, storm-petrels in highway rest areas, and much more. Even the normally delightful waste treatment plants have been elevated to a new level of fun. Thanks to Brian Gibbons, Laurens Halsey, Lauren Harter, Chris McCreedy, and David Vander Pluym for these tales of birding excitement, great photos, and fantastically documented records. We hope you enjoy reading their stories as much as we do.

eBird Mobile 1.3: breeding and behavior codes

Common Potoo—NY breeding code. Photo by Jose Luis Navarro/Macaulay Library

A new version of eBird Mobile (1.3) has just been released that lets you note breeding and behavior codes in your mobile checklists—available for free on both iOS and Android. This lets you track breeding bird activity easier than ever before, and also log flyover codes—which could win you a pair of binoculars this month! If you’ve never tried eBird Mobile, there has never been a better time to get started. More than 110,000 eBirders have used eBird Mobile so far, tracking their sightings easier than ever before. Learn how to get started with eBird Mobile. This latest version also provides the technical foundation for future developments that include automatic tracking of distance within the app, sharing of checklists, and many other features that we want and plan to build into eBird Mobile—with every step bringing us closer to having the full eBird website on your mobile device.

 Download on the App Store

Want a free birding trip to Trinidad & Tobago?

Purple Gallinule by Jerome Foster/Macaulay Library.

You’re in North America, it’s early 2017, and winter is everywhere. Bird song is nothing but a distant memory, and you yearn for warmth. Wouldn’t you rather be in Trinidad and Tobago? If you eBird, you could be—for free! We’re very happy to announce an exciting opportunity for a lucky eBirder and friend: two nights at the Asa Wright Nature Centre; complimentary roundtrip airfares for 2 people on JetBlue from either JFK (New York) or Fort Lauderdale, FL; and guided tours on the ground in Trinidad and Tobago. Thanks to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, JetBlue, and the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Board for their generous sponsorship. A lucky eBirder will be drawn randomly from among all eligible checklists submitted between Sept 15-Oct 31 2016. More lists, more chances to win. The winner will be notified by November 10.

Michiel Oversteegen, August eBirder of the Month


Please join us in congratulating Michiel Oversteegen of Oranjestad, Aruba, winner of the August 2016 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Our August winner was drawn from among eligible checklists that contained 3+ images or 1+ audio files. Michiel’s name was drawn randomly from the 3,383 eBirders who achieved the August challenge threshold, submitting a total of 17,335 eligible checklists. Michiel will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked Michiel to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – read on for more. He titles his post “eBirding in paradise”—we can’t help but agree!

Explore and share your birding with eBird Profile Pages!


320,000 eBirders and growing… You’ve looked through eBird checklists and seen their names: kindred birding spirits whose sightings you may have glimpsed only once, or followed regularly over months and years. Now, you can find out who the people are behind these names by exploring eBird’s new Profile Pages! Whether you’re a backyard birder or a globe-trotting world lister, eBird Profile Pages allow you to share your birding story with friends and the entire eBird community. This first version of your public eBird dashboard focuses on showcasing your eBird/Macaulay Library activity with tools that visualize all your sightings and highlight your recent media contributions—all updated with each new eBird contribution. We hope these Profile Pages provide a fun new way to visualize the contributions you’ve made to eBird and the Macaulay Library, inspire you to ‘fill in the gaps’ in your profile maps, and allow you to get to know other eBirders by exploring their Profile Pages. Enjoy meeting the global eBird community, and set up your eBird Profile Page today!

September eBirder of the Month Challenge

Osprey by Geoffrey Groom/Macaulay Library

This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, will keep your binoculars pointed towards the sky. As the seasons turn over in September, the movement of birds begins perhaps the best part of a birder’s year: migration. Whether you’re north of the equator for fall, or enjoying an austral spring, things are happening! Migratory restlessness may result in local movements of 10s of kilometers, or something as drastic as undertaking herculean journeys that take shorebirds from the Arctic to the edge of the southern continents. The most amazing part of all of this is that you can witness it, wherever you are. The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists in September containing at least one “Flyover” code. Checklists must be for observations during this month; not historical checklists entered during September. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

Explore the New Birds of North America!

Marbled Murrelet by Brian Sullivan/Macaulay Library

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is pleased to announce that the new updated and upgraded version of the Birds of North America is available for free preview! Check out brand new rich media and information from your submissions to eBird and the Macaulay Library augmenting every species account. The Birds of North America is the preeminent source of life history information for the more than 750 species of birds that breed in the United States and Canada. Maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership with The American Ornithologists’ Union, this comprehensive resource is authored by experts on each species. Each species account includes information on systematics, distribution, identification, behavior, breeding biology, and conservation. Each species account also includes a comprehensive bibliography of research conducted on the species. The accompanying multimedia includes photos of various plumages, examples of sounds, and videos of interesting behaviors. Check out the new BNA today!

Historic data provide context for the future

Henslow's Sparrow by Luke Seitz/Macaulay Library

Every day, thousands of researchers all around the world go out to collect data—helping inform studies that range from short-term graduate research to long-term ecological monitoring. Many of these data go back for decades, or provide snapshots into the status of bird distribution and abundance of a past age. These historic data are incredible valuable, since they provide the context for our understanding of current bird populations—allowing us to understand how a changing world might be affecting the natural ecosystems of our planet. Brett Sandercock, Professor of Wildlife Biology at Kansas State University, recently uploaded more than a thousand historical checklists from Konza Prairie in Kansas, and has kindly written a short piece on the process, and how you easily do the same! Thanks Brett for your contributions, and for this great article. If you have a similar dataset, or even a few notebooks in the attic from times gone by, you can help paint a more complete picture of this changing world—read on to learn how.

Taxonomy Update for 2016

Lesser Violetear from Costa Rica. This species is somewhat smaller, has more emerald green feathering, and typically lacks the blue chin and blue central breast of Mexican Violetear, although some (like this bird) can show hints of blue in those areas. Photo Brian Sullivan/Macaulay Library.

The eBird taxonomy update is essentially COMPLETE. All major changes have occurred, and we have only a small number of minor changes yet to make. This may affect the lists of a very small number of users as we implement these over the next few days. We do this update once each year, taking into account the past 12 months of recent taxonomic knowledge on splits, lumps, name changes, and changes in the sequence of the species lists. As of this point, all eBird data will be reflecting the new taxonomy. This includes your My eBird lists, range maps, bar charts, region and hotspot lists, and data entry. eBird Mobile should also be updated to the new taxonomy. If you see unfamiliar bird names in the list, please refer to the story below to understand the change and why it happened. In addition, we list a number of new options for data entry (hybrids, spuhs, slashes, etc.), all of which are listed below.

Corey Finger, July eBirder of the Month

Corey birding in Culebra, Puerto Rico

Please join us in congratulating Corey Finger of Queens, New York, winner of the July 2016 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Our July winner was drawn from among those who submitted at least 31 complete no-X checklists during July. Corey’s name was drawn randomly from the 1,720 eBirders who achieved the July challenge threshold. Corey will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for his eBirding efforts. We asked Corey to tell us a little more about himself, his use of eBird, and his love of birds – read on for more!