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March eBirder of the Month Challenge

Red-breasted Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser

This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, focuses on exploring new areas. eBirders have entered sightings from more than 3 million locations across every country in the world. Even though that sounds like a big number, there is still a lot we have yet to learn, and a lot of areas where we have very little information! In March we’re encouraging you to explore, and fill some of those knowledge gaps. The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 1 or more complete no-X checklists in March from at least 15 locations new to your eBird account. This means a total of 15 lists is required as a minimum. These locations can be hotspots or any kind of location, they just have to be new in your specific eBird account. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

Everyone looks for birds in a different way. Some people enjoy watching feeders from their house or apartment. Some people go to the local park on the way to work every day, or only have time to make it out on the weekends for a couple hours here and there. Others spend a lot of time traveling to far-flung places for birding marathons, spending 24 hours at a time pursuing everything that they can find with feathers. All of these approaches are valuable to eBird in their own way.

Past challenges here have focused on repeatedly covering the same location, allowing us to more fully understand bird communities in a small area. This month approaches another way to broaden our understanding of birds: visiting new locations, preferably ones where people haven’t ever submitted eBird sightings until yours. Below is a really fun interactive map from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), showing all the locations where eBirders submitted the first 220 million eBird sightings. This map is a year or so out of date; we are now approaching 300 million observations!

GBIF map

This map, courtesy of GBIF, visualizations all eBird locations through the end of 2014. Click the photo to see an interactive map!

You can see how many locations you have visited by visiting your Manage My Locations page. This is the page where you can rename locations, merge your personal locations (marked P) with hotspots (marked S), or make other edits to your locations. At the top left is a count of all the locations you have reported to eBird from. With this month’s challenge, we reward exploratory eBirders who run up that number. Just jot down your 29 February (Happy leap year!) total number of locations and check it periodically in March to see if you have met the goal of 15 new locations.

This March, we hope that you’ll take this as a chance to explore, discover, and appreciate new places where you’ve never before looked for birds. The sense of discovery and exploration is something that brings a lot of us into the birding realm, and here is a good chance to reinvigorate it! So take a look at the map linked above, find a spot with no information, and go see what you can find! Even though some areas look data-rich at broad scale, when you zoom in you realize there are a lot of gaps! Even if you can’t find a blank spot on the map, this is a good chance to go visit a nearby hotspot that you’ve never visited before, or that park down the road that you pass by but never stop at for eBirding. Try going to the Location Explorer for your region and checking the hotspots tab; are there any that you have always wanted to visit but have not? We look forward to seeing what you find!

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.

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.”

Find out more:

eBirder of the Month