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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 first week of June and fall shorebird migration starts getting underway by the last week. All month long, June is a great month for finding vagrants. 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.

Three years ago, eBird added the ability to enter breeding codes. Although this is not yet possible using eBird’s data entry app (BirdLog), you can take note of breeding behaviors observed and enter breeding codes on the eBird website when you return. In the coming year we plan to star visualizing breeding information on maps and other output. So in the meantime, we need to make sure we have a really good dataset on breeding behaviors. For many birders, participating in local Breeding Bird Atlases is a real highlight. eBird provides the opportunity to participate in a Breeding Bird Atlas anywhere you are at any time.

There remains a lot to be learned about where and when birds are breeding, especially away from Europe, the U.S., and Canada. Some species–even some fairly common tropical ones–still have no described nest. Regardless of where you are birding, your eBird records will help to contribute to the overall picture of breeding ranges, how they are changing, and how the timing of breeding is changing. Try starting at your patch or yard and trying to confirm as many breeders as possible. See if you can find breeding evidence for some of the rarer species in your county. Try doing complete checklists and recording a breeding behavior code for almost all the species (since “singing male” is a breeding code, this is easier than it sounds). Paying special attention to breeding behaviors really expands your understanding of birds and makes June birding much much more fun.

Be sure to review our article on breeding codes and how to use them. And try to make the use of breeding codes part of your regular eBirding, not just during this month’s competition.

Each month we will feature a new eBird challenge and set of selection criteria. The monthly winners will each receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular and a selection of books from another great eBird sponsor, Princeton University Press.

Carl Zeiss Sports Optics is a proven leader in sports optics and is the official optics sponsor for eBird. “Carl Zeiss feels strongly that by partnering with the Cornell Lab we can provide meaningful support for their ability to carry out their research, conservation, and education work around the world,” says Mike Jensen, President of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, North America. “The Cornell Lab is making a difference for birds, and from the highest levels of our company we’re committed to promoting birding and the Lab’s work, so there’s a great collaboration. eBird is a truly unique and synergistic portal between the Lab and birders, and we welcome the opportunity to support them both.”

Princeton University Press publishes many of the best books about birds and natural history, including the popular new “Warbler Guide” from Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. “We are delighted to be able to support the Cornell Lab’s innovative and ambitious range of programs in science and conservation,” says Robert Kirk at PUP. “The rapid expansion of eBird has had a major impact on our understanding of bird populations and movements in North America and beyond, and is a testament to the Lab’s commitment to game-changing citizen science.”

Find out more: eBirder of the Month

Those of us at Team eBird consider June one of our favorite birding months of the year. Enjoy!

 

Birds carrying nesting material also provide good evidence of breeding. Vote on Facebook on the identity of this warbler! We'll reveal the answer on 10 June.

Birds carrying nesting material also provide good evidence of breeding. Vote on Facebook on the identity of this warbler! We’ll reveal the answer on 10 June.