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Just released – The Birds of Hinsdale Setbacks

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An ebook on the bird populations of one of the most important birding sites in the Connecticut Valley is now available for free, online. The Birds of Hinsdale Setbacks and Bluffs, by Hector Galbraith, addresses in some detail all 244 species that have been recorded there over the last 80+ years. It is 70 pages of text bar charts, maps, and photographs.

With world class birding sites like Odiorne and Parker River only a couple of hours drive away, it is easy for some of us in inland New England to forget the ornithological importance of some of our inland sites. This is definitely the case with Hinsdale Setbacks and Bluffs in southwest New Hampshire and southeast Vermont. Situated on the Connecticut River, and comprising a rich mixture of habitats, including emergent marsh, open water, and riparian scrub and forest, the Setbacks and Bluffs are one of the most diverse and productive birding sites in inland New England.

Winter 2014/2015 Issue of New Hampshire Bird Records

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The invasive insect pest, Emerald Ash Borer, which was initially detected in 2013 in Concord, continues to radiate across southern New Hampshire, decimating ash trees wherever it occurs. Birders and other outdoor enthusiasts are well positioned to help forest ecologists get a handle on the spread of this insect species. Now is the perfect time to detect new infestations in ash trees as woodpeckers feed on the overwintering larvae.

To understand Emerald Ash Borer and its relationship with birds, how to detect it in trees, and find out how YOU can help play a role in its management, see this free article which appears in the latest issue of New Hampshire Bird Records.

The Winter 2014-15 issue of New Hampshire Bird Records also has articles on New Mega-zoom Cameras, last winter’s Gyrfalcon and Smith’s Longspur, Northern Saw-whet Owls, Winter Birding in Manchester, the Christmas Bird Count, and the usual features – Photo Quiz, Season Summary of bird highlights, Field Trip Report, and Field Notes of fascinating bird observations including a Barred Owl caught by a crow!

Counting 102—birds at feeders

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A couple years ago we published the Counting 101 and Counting 201 articles, tutorials for how to more effectively and accurately count birds that you’re seeing. Counting 101 focuses on the basics—how to keep track of birds throughout a birding outing, and how to count a flock in parts to estimate the total. Counting 201 takes this a step further, dealing with large numbers and flocks of birds in motion. Counting 102 is intended to take these counting best practices and apply them to feeder birding—a slightly different counting problem, but an important one to address. For anyone who has wondered how best to count and eBird the birds visiting you feeder—this article is for you.

New Hampshire Bird Records – What’s the Weird Bird?

A leucistic Sandhill Crane amongst others with normal plumage, photographed by Iain MacLeod in New Mexico.

No it’s not a Whooping Crane, it’s a Sandhill Crane with leucism! Have you ever wondered about such odd looking birds, Learn more about them in the New Hampshire Bird Records article, now available on the NH Bird Records website.

The Fall 2014 issue of New Hampshire Bird Records also had articles on Where to Bird in the Lake Umbagog Region, the fall 2014 nighthawk and raptor migrations, bird sighting highlights from the season, and the regular features such as the popular Photo Quiz and Field Notes.

For subscription information click here or go directly to the online subscription page.

eBird is Mobile and Global—Android is here!

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Android users rejoice! eBird Mobile is now available for free in the Google Play store, complementing the iOS version of the app that was released earlier this year. eBird Mobile is a single app that allows you to enter eBird observations from anywhere in the world. eBird Mobile is completely translated into 8 languages, and supports species common names in more than 20 languages. Its offline functionality even allows you to enter sightings in areas with no cell service, or when traveling abroad without Internet access. If you haven’t tried eBird Mobile yet, there is no better time! Both of these apps build off of the groundbreaking BirdLog app, initially developed by David Bell and BirdsInTheHand, LLC in 2012.

Add Audio to Your eBird Checklist!

Bird recordist in action!

How many times have you been out birding, heard a sound, and thought, “I wish I had a recording of that!” Maybe it was a common bird giving an odd vocalization that you’ve never heard before, or a mystery sound that you want to research when you get home. Or perhaps you were in a quiet, pristine setting with a spectacular dawn chorus. With the advent of smartphones and small digital recorders, it’s easier than ever to make recordings of the sounds that you always wanted to record. And, with the new eBird/Macaulay Library media upload tool, it’s now easy to add these sounds to your eBird checklists and at the same time have them permanently archived at the Macaulay Library.

The Franklin’s Gull fallout of 2015

First-winter Franklin's Gull at Cape May, NJ. Note its well-defined half-hood, obvious white eye arcs, and white tail with crisp black terminal band. Photo by Tom Johnson.

November 13, 2015, will go down in the history books as the (first?) day of the epic 2015 Franklin’s Gull flight to the East Coast of the United States. Franklin’s Gull numbers have been above average in the East over the past week, with flocks in the great Lakes, and as unsettled wet and rainy weather Wednesday and Thursday gave way to clear skies and strong West or Northwest winds overnight astute observers up and down the East Coast made sure to get out at dawn to bear witness. At Cape May, the flight began in the earl morning and continued all day, with some flocks of 60+ being seen! The combined one-day total there was something like 315 birds. As the alert was raised more observers got out looking in time to find their own. Every coastal state from Massachusetts to Virginia was in on the action. It isn’t over yet! Go birding this weekend!

Snowy Owls moving south—winter is coming!

Snowy Owl, Duxbury, MA

Thanks to Harry Potter, Snowy Owl is one of the most well-known birds in the world, and also almost universally adored. Who can say no to a massive, charismatic, white owl? Over the past few winters, much of North America has been graced by these ghostly owls, especially during the winter of 2013-2014. In that season, thousands of Snowy Owls irrupted further south than normal, particularly in the eastern United States. Snowies were seen as far south as Florida (!), and a single bird even made it to Bermuda (!!). In Newfoundland, people were seeing hundreds of owls in a single birding outing, like this checklist with 138 individuals, and 55 from one viewpoint. Wow! We’re already seeing signs of another Snowy Owl invasion this fall, with early reports of birds far exceeding what was seen by this time in 2013. Will the numbers continue to grow throughout the winter? Only time will tell.

Add Photos or Audio Directly to your eBird Checklists – Macaulay Library Media Upload is Here!

Adult male Northern Harrier, Moss Landing, CA, October. Photo by Brian L. Sullivan.

It’s no surprise that birders are a visual and aural community—after all, we spend most of our time searching for birds by sight and sound. Millions of birders around the world now carry cameras into the field, and many people also record bird sounds using smartphones. Until now, this rich resource of bird photos and sounds has been scattered across disparate resources, or in the worst cases has not been captured at all. Using the data collection power of eBird, and the long-term curation and archival capabilities of the Macaulay Library, we’ve created a home at the Cornell Lab for this next generation of bird information. Leveraging the strengths of both projects, we’ve developed a scientific foundation and a streamlined process for collecting rich media that provides a long-term, open data resource searchable by birders and scientists alike—a real-time, digital natural history collection. And did we forget to mention, it’s incredibly fun? Through a simple drag-and-drop process, it is now easy to illustrate your eBird checklists with photos and audio files, not only providing documentation for your bird records, but also creating a visual and audio tapestry of what you’re encountering in the field, and easily share it with others.

BirdCast Migration Forecast, 14-21 August—fall is here!

American Avocet

The first BirdCast of fall is officially here! Throughout the fall we’ll be featuring the BirdCast migration forecasts weekly to keep you up to date with what birds are arriving in your area. If you want to know what species of migrant birds will be showing up in your neck of the woods on any given week throughout the migration season, this is the place to look! These updates will also be posted on the eBird Facebook and Twitter pages – by following those pages you can get the same information delivered to your social media platform of choice. The BirdCast forecast highlights migrant species that you can expect to see in each of the regions covered: Upper Midwest and Northeast; Gulf Coast and Southeast; Great Plains; and West.

Click the title of this article to see links to each of the regions, where you can see what to expect in your backyard or favorite birding spot!