As one of the most striking differences in bird occurrence from year-to-year in many northern regions of the world, finch irruptions are often exciting events. Will this winter have Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings dripping from the local crabapples? Will crossbills be crunching away in the conifers? Ron Pittaway’s finch forecast is always a much-anticipated read for US & Canadian birders in the fall, and this year was no different! At least partially due to drought conditions followed by a record wet spring and summer in the Northeast, this year’s cone crop looks to be perhaps a once in couple-decades event. As a result, Red Crossbills will feature prominently in this year’s flight, and to a certain extent already have, as outlined in Ron’s forecast.
This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, will keep get you snapping photos and recording bird sounds. Every time you take a photo or hold out a microphone, you’re creating an incredibly powerful piece of data. Media help document records, provide resources for learning and education, and also pave the way for future eBird and birding tools like Merlin Photo ID. The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists in October containing at least one photo or sound with a rating. Checklists must be for observations during this month; not historical checklists entered during October. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.
eBird has proven to be an effective data-gathering tool used by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) as it protects and stewards more than 7000 acres within the geographic center of Washington state. Most of the trust’s properties provide important bird habitat for both year- round resident and migratory species. Conserved habitats range from sagebrush-grasslands to riparian woodlands along salmon-rich waters, to low-elevation and mesic forests. CDLT staff and volunteers use eBird in three main ways: to inform management goals on two specific projects, using strict monitoring protocols;for an annual June nightjar census; and the trust also invites visitors to contribute sightings using eBird Hotspots on a set of CDLT properties and easements.
Ever since satellite technology has been small enough to put on a bird, researchers have been using transmitters to ask questions about birds that were previously unanswerable. Although some questions still can’t be answered with anything aside from satellites (e.g., precise paths of migrating birds throughout their entire annual cycle), a paper published recently in Global Ecology and Conservation shows that eBird data can be comparable to satellite data when creating species distribution models. The authors of the open-access paper “Species distribution models for a migratory bird based on citizen science and satellite tracking data” have written a great account of their research on Band-tailed Pigeons (below). Thanks to Chris Coxen, Jennifer Frey, Scott Carleton, and Dan Collins for taking the time to share their work with the eBird community.
Late August is the beginning of my favorite birding season in Washington. It is the time of year when nearly all our birds are on the move and the potential for finding a surprising migrant is high. I recently moved near Carkeek Park in northwest Seattle so I had been looking forward to seeing what the park is like during fall migration. The previous week I had stopped one day before work without seeing much of interest but on August 31st, 2017 I figured I would give it another shot.
What if, instead of buying habitat, conservationists could rent it when and where migratory birds need it most? eBird data is playing a critical role in helping make this a reality, enabling new cost-effective approaches to complementing protected areas with ‘pop-up’ wetlands. This work has just been published in Science Advances, “Dynamic conservation for migratory species.” To pinpoint where and when migrating shorebirds most need habitats in California’s Central Valley, scientists at The Nature Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Point Blue Conservation Science used models based on eBird data on shorebirds and NASA satellite data on surface pattern of wetlands and flooded agricultural fields.
World Shorebird Day, September 6th, is just about here. During the week of September 1st-7th people all around the world will be counting shorebirds, raising awareness of the importance of monitoring and collecting valuable data to help scientists better understand the statuses and trends for these species.
This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, will keep your eyes and ears trained upwards. As the seasons turn over in September, the movement of birds begins perhaps the best part of a birder’s year: migration. Whether you’re enjoying a northern autumn or an austral spring, things are happening! Migratory restlessness may result in local movements of 10s of kilometers, or herculean journeys that take shorebirds from the Arctic to the edge of the southern continents. The most amazing part of all of this is that you can witness it, wherever you are. The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists in September containing at least one “Flyover” code. Checklists must be for observations during this month; not historical checklists entered during September. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.
In September, 2015, Oregonian Noah Strycker set a new world record by seeing 6,042 bird species in one year. His Big Year bested a British couple breaking their 2008 record by over 1,500 species. Birders around the world followed Noah’s global birding adventure on the Audubon Society’s blog. Now, Noah’s latest book Birding Without Borders chronicles his quest to break the world birding record.
Come hear Noah present on his birding adventures or head out into the field with him for a morning of birding at the Mountain Bird Conservation Fundraiser, an International Migratory Bird Day Event hosted by the Klamath Bird Observatory on September 23rd in Ashland, OR. By attending you can put your stamp on local and national bird and habitat conservation; all attendees will receive a Conservation Stamp Set including: 2017-18 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation [Duck] Stamp and Klamath Bird Observatory’s 2017 Conservation Science Stamp. To learn more about this event and to register visit www.KlamathBird.org.
On 21 August, a solar eclipse will be visible across North America, as well as parts of northern South America, western Africa, and western Europe. Check your location on this map to see when the eclipse will be visible, and what percentage of the sun will be obscured. Past solar eclipses have featured accounts of […]