Every year a group of passionate, dedicated, young birders descends on the Cornell Lab for a long weekend in early July. For many of us here at the Lab, this is one of the best weekends of the year. The Cornell Lab Young Birders Event focuses on providing information for those who may be interested in pursuing a career with birds, while also helping build lifelong connections among the youth birding community. One of the attendees of this year’s YBE, Max Hellicar, authored an excellent account of his several days here. Thanks to the Cameron Bespolka Trust for making Max’s visit possible. See Max’s story here (PDF). For those of you that are young birders, or know one, please check back in January for details on next year’s Young Birders Event. We hope to see you there.
The annual eBird taxonomy update IS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY (Tuesday, 15 August). The process will continue for at least a couple days. We do this once a year to reflect the most recent changes in avian taxonomy: 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. The 2017 splits and lumps will be published very soon on this page. We will summarize these changes in an eBird story once the taxonomy update is complete.
Please join us in congratulating Jennifer Marenghi of Shady Side, Maryland, winner of the July 2017 eBird Challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics. Our July winner was drawn from eBirders who submitted 15 or more eligible checklists shared with another eBirder in July. Jennifer’s name was drawn randomly from the 1,769 eligible eBirders who achieved the July challenge threshold. Jennifer will receive new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binoculars for her eBirding efforts. Read more to see Jennifer’s full story, which starts with a date and ends with a wedding!
We are delighted to announce that the first Merlin pack covering birds in Europe is available for download. Answer a few easy questions or snap a photo, and get real-time answers to your bird ID questions. Europe: Great Britain and Ireland features 250 species with ID text written by Steve N.G. Howell, stunning images and audio from your eBird contributions that are archived in the Macaulay Library, and Merlin’s well-known Photo ID. Stay tuned in the coming months for coverage of more uncommon species in the UK and Ireland as well as more of Europe. Give Merlin a try today.
eBird Mobile for Android took a big step forward this week: the ability to keep ‘tracks’ of where you eBird. Every time you start a checklist on eBird Android, you now have the option to keep a GPS track of where you walk for your traveling counts. The ‘tracks’ automatically calculate the distance traveled and time spent eBirding—all you have to do is watch birds! This is an important new chapter in eBird, opening the door for many exciting new future tools: improved research that can use the actual path you birded, eBird data outputs that can show the precise path of any given checklist, and much more. Plus, it makes your birding even easier. Try eBird Android today.
Have you ever uploaded a photo or audio recording to an eBird checklist, only to realize after the fact that it’s under the wrong species when viewed in the Macaulay Library? Then you had to delete the photo from eBird, go back to your photo archive, and re-upload to the new species. Or if a reviewer notified you about an error on a checklist, just changing an observation could be a bit tricky as well—especially if you had notes, breeding codes, and age/sex information to move over to the new species. This all got a lot easier today: we are excited to announce a new and easy way to edit your checklists with the Change Species button on the checklist editing page. Go to “Manage My Checklists” and choose “Edit Species List” while viewing one of your eBird checklists to change any of your species.
Want to work on your bird identification skills? Size and shape are some of the best characters for bird identification, and learning how to use them to your advantage can make a huge difference in arriving quickly at the right ID. We’re excited to partner with the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy to offer a suite of educational resources in thanks for your eBirding: in August, every eligible checklist that you submit gives you a chance to win free access to the online self-paced course Be a Better Birder: Size and Shape.
This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, encourages you to get out birding every day in one of the least-eBirded months of the year. The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 31 eligible checklists during August. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month. August is an interesting time in much of the world, when the boreal breeding season is ending and spring is beginning to think about returning to the southern reaches of our planet. Many birds are wandering from their normal habitats, and there’s a lot for us to learn about where and when birds occur. Shorebird migration is in full swing across the northern hemisphere and many passerines begin their migration in August too. Let’s get out and see what we can find in August!
Over the past few millennia, human-caused habitat change has had one of the most profound effects on bird populations globally, especially since industrialization in the 1800s. Looking forward, we can expect human-caused habitat loss to represent the greatest threat to many North American breeding birds. The problem will be most severe on their wintering grounds, according to a new study published today in the journal Global Change Biology by a international research team including representatives from the Cornell Lab, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and VU University Amsterdam. By the end of this century, the study’s authors say predicted changes in rainfall and temperature will compound the problem for birds that breed in eastern North America and winter in Central America. The data source for this research? Your eBird checklists.
Everytime we go birding and submit an eBird checklist, we take a tiny snapshot of bird occurrence in space and time. eBird’s grand vision is to piece all these tiny snapshots together as a global tapestry of bird occurrence. This shared effort to illustrate bird occurrence begins to reveal the complex relationships of our birds to the environment and, as the seasons change, how birds flow around the planet in cycles of dispersal and migration. With this in mind, we are thrilled to share our 2017 STEM models, which are the product of several years of refinements and improvements over the classic eBird Occurrence Maps. STEM (Spatio-Temporal Exploratory Model) is a species distribution model that has been specifically developed for eBird data by statisticians and researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.