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Heather Ketebengang, July 2014 eBirder of the Month

Heather

Please join us in congratulating Heather Ketebengang of the Palau Conservation Society, Palau, our winner of the July 2014 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Heather was selected in a random drawing that included each of the 1030 eBirders who submitted at least 50 checklists during the month of July (checklists for earlier time periods, submitted during July do count). When we notified Heather that she won, she wrote “Alii from Palau and Thank you! I was surprised and thrilled to hear that I’m a winner of the July eBirder of the Month Challenge. It is an honor to be a part of a great program.”

Attention iOS and Android Developers: Join eBird & the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

ADPE_clw

Are you an iOS or Android Developer? Do you know one? We have two new positions, one for an iOS developer and another for an Android developer to work on eBird and Merlin. Upcoming projects will focus on improving the ability to enter checklists from the field and extending the Merlin app to add image-recognition functionality for identifying birds in the field with photos that were “just taken”. Both position will work closely with the eBird and Merlin project leaders, UI designers, application developers, database administrators, computer scientists in a collaborative development environment. We want to find the best people possible for these important positions, so please send this information to anyone you think may be interested. More information on the iOS developer position is available here, and on the Android developer here. To apply for the position, please refer to Jobs at Cornell. For more information contact Sue Taggart.

Taxonomy update for 2014

For American birders, large rail splits are most likely to give Life Lists a boost in this revision. Be careful reporting Clapper Rail: it should only be used for East Coast and Gulf Coast birds now! Photo of Clapper Rail in Massachusetts by Ryan Schain.

The taxonomic update for 2014 is now complete in eBird. The names and sequence have been changed and eBird records have been updated in cases of splits and lumps. This update includes taxonomic revisions introduced (or accepted) since August 2013 by the two committees of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the North American Classification Committee (NACC) and the South American Classification Committee (SACC), including several splits detailed below. In North America the most significant change was the split of Clapper Rail into Clapper, Ridgway’s, and Mangrove Rails and the split of King Rail into King and Aztec Rails. In the tropical Americas, Sirystes was split into four species, Bicolored Antbird was split into two, and Knipolegus black-tyrants were revised, among others. In Eurasia, Mourning Wheatear was split into three species, Arctic Warbler was split into three species (two occur in North America, one as a breeder and one as a vagrant or rare migrant) and Two-barred Warbler was split from Greenish Warbler.

Caleb Frome, Zeiss YBN eBirding Challenge Winner

Caleb Frome

Please join us in congratulating Caleb Frome of Richarson, Texas, winner of the YBN eBirding Challenge sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic. Caleb submitted over 100 complete checklists between 1 January and 30 June to become eligible and his name was then drawn at random. He will receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular. To be eligible for the fall semester competition for young birders, enter 100 complete checklists into eBird between July 1st and December 31st, 2014. At least one of these checklists must be entered through the YBN portal. Additional checklists may be entered through any eBird portal and BirdLog. We will draw the winner from the pool of contestants who have submitted at least 100 complete checklists during the term. Winners must be under the age of 21 on July 1st 2014.  But now onto this month’s winner. We’ve asked Caleb to tell us a bit about himself.

Taxonomy updating now!

King Rail is split into Aztec and King Rails, which are very similar but do not overlap in range. This King Rail was photographed in Massachusetts. Photo by Marshall Iliff.

The eBird taxonomy is updating today (4 Aug 2014) and the process will continue for at least a couple days (until Tuesday, 5 Aug or Wednesday, 6 Aug). We do this once a year to take into account splits, lumps, name changes, and changes in the sequence of the species lists. You may notice some unusual behavior with your lists and other tools (see below), but this is nothing to worry about. Within a few days the process should be complete. Please bear with us while we update the many database tables that we use in eBird. The eBird taxonomy uses the Clements/eBird Checklist; the integrated Clements/eBird Checklist includes all taxa, while the eBird lists includes those options useful for checklist reporting (scoter sp., Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher, certain hybrids, etc.) and the Clements Checklist includes only species, subspecies groups, and subspecies (eBird does not include subspecies unless part of a field-identifiable subspecies group).

eBird’s missing species

The Blue-winged Racquet-tail, of the Sulu Archipelago, is one of the rare, critically endangered birds with no eBird record...yet

As of early June 2014, eBird’s database has 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 roughly 96% of the world’s bird species have 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! 7 AUG UPDATE: 34 species have already been added, and there are more coming in! This amazing progress speaks volumes to the dedication of the eBird community. Even so, there’s always more work to be done, especially when it comes to mapping the ranges and understanding patterns of avian distribution! Expect more details later in the month when we publish an official update to the missing species article! Check out eBird on Facebook to see some of the additions.

Ken Burdick, June 2014 eBirder of the Month

Ken Burdick

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.”

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.