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Birding in the 21st Century.

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Female Bird Song Project

Most birders know that males of many bird species sing. Less well known is that females of many species sing too – and that their songs can often be equally beautiful and complex. In fact, recent research shows that females sing in about 2/3 of songbird species, and that female songs likely evolved alongside male songs in the early ancestors of modern songbirds. Yet, female songs are greatly underrepresented in recording collections. For researchers to understand how songbirds evolved their diverse songs, we need recordings of female songs from around the world. This is a daunting task. The Female Bird Song Project is asking birders, like yourself, to help observe and record female songs through your eBird checklists. Read more to find out how you can help!

eBird Server Maintenance on June 20 – website unavailable 03:30-08:00ET

All of eBird will be unavailable on June 20 between 03:30-08:00ET (08:30-13:00GMT), due to regularly scheduled server and database maintenance. We have to do this semi-annually to keep everything up to date and offer the best user experience possible. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause. During that time, please note down your sightings in […]

White-breasted Nuthatch populations – eBirders aid conservation and prepare for a potential split

Many Northwest birders are aware that there are two discrete populations of White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) in the Pacific Northwest: one found in the pine forests of the interior and the other in broad valleys west of the Cascades in oak and ash forests. These two populations have very different conservation statuses as well. The interior birds (subspecies tenuissima) are apparently either stable or increasing, while the westside birds (subspecies aculeata) also called Slender-billed Nuthatch) have shown a dramatic decline and range contraction over the last century (Wahl et al 2005). As a result of their decline in the Northwest, they are a Candidate species in Washington state and in Oregon are listed as Sensitive. Both Washington and Oregon include Sitta carolinensis aculeata in their State Wildlife Action Plans.

June eBirder of the Month Challenge

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, gives you a chance to improve our knowledge of breeding birds across the world. In much of the world, June is a critical time in the annual cycle of many birds, as they build nests, hatch chicks, and hopefully fledge young—perpetuating the existence of their species. Even if June isn’t peak breeding season near you, there are still many signs of breeding to be found wherever you are! The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit at least 15 eligible checklists containing at least one breeding code during June. eBird Mobile now lets you enter breeding codes on your mobile checklists, so taking part is easier than ever. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

Hawk Heaven:  The Raptors of the Klamath-Siskiyou

It’s a fine summer day on the banks of the Rogue River. You’re getting ready for a morning of fly-fishing when a shadow passes across the water, and you look up to see a great broad-winged bird circling against the sun. Its grace and majesty, its ease in the air, takes your breath away.

And then, if you’re like me, you wonder: what is it? A Bald Eagle!… or an Osprey? A Red-tailed Hawk? Maybe it’s a Golden Eagle! Wait – a Turkey Vulture? There are plenty of possibilities, because we’re lucky enough to live in one of the hotspots for birds of prey in North America. The Klamath-Siskiyou region is home to no less than 15 different species of nesting birds of prey, with three more species that visit regularly in the winter. These range in size from the delicate American Kestrel, a robin-sized falcon that feeds largely on insects, to the massive Bald Eagle, fully capable of pulling a salmon out of the river and flying away with it.

Greater Sandhill Cranes in Washington

Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) travel in large, noisy migratory flocks this time of year. Often their loud, gravelly, honking voices are our first clues that they are high overhead on their long migratory journey, looking to settle or rest on the way, or have returned to the breeding grounds. Large flocks of Lesser Sandhill Cranes (A. c. canadensis) stop in eastern Washington during migration and a few thousand Canadian Sandhills (A. c. rowani) stop on lower Columbia bottomlands, but only a small number of cranes stop and nest in Washington. The cranes that nest here are Greater Sandhill Cranes (A. c. tabida) that belong to the Central Valley Population, so-called because the entire population winters in California’s Central Valley. Members of this population also nest in Oregon, northeastern California, Nevada, and the southern interior of British Columbia.

Ecological research uses eBird data to show that migratory birds are falling out of sync with the timing of spring

At eBird, our goal is connect valuable birdwatcher sightings with research and conservation. The eBird checklists that you’ve entered have been used in over 100 peer-reviewed papers, and hundreds of local, regional, and national conservation decisions. We’re excited to feature one of the most recent papers published on eBird, “Increasing phenological asynchrony between spring green-up and arrival of migratory birds”, thanks to lead author Stephen Mayor. Read on to see how eBird data helped illuminate an increasing mismatch between when plants green up and when migrant birds return in spring.

Seattle is an Urban Bird Treaty City!

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) joined Seattle Audubon, Audubon Washington, Heron Habitat Helpers, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other partners to sign a treaty designating the City of Seattle as an Urban Bird Treaty City on May 5, 2017. This designation recognizes Seattle’s migratory bird conservation and education accomplishments, and celebrates the renewed commitment of partners to develop programs in Seattle to protect birds and their habitat, and connect people to the natural world. The Urban Bird Treaty program is a collaborative effort between federal, state, and municipal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to create bird-friendly environments and provide citizens, especially youth, with opportunities to connect with nature through birding and conservation. In the Pacific Northwest, Portland received the Urban Bird Treaty City designation in 2003. Both Seattle and Portland are important habitats on the Pacific Flyway and have strong community support for birding and bird conservation.

Common Loons in Washington

Sleek and stunning, Common Loons (Gavia immer) are a rare breeding bird in Washington, typically more common as a migrant or wintering species. Spring and summer are beautiful times to paddle lakes and ponds in Washington, and birdwatching from the water enriches that experience. Black head, white “necklace”, incomplete black-and-white neckband, and white-checkered black back define breeding Common Loon adults.

Birders and biologists would like to learn more about Common Loon breeding in Washington. eBird checklists with Common Loon sightings on freshwater lakes, ponds and wetlands, primarily April through September (overlapping breeding season), are most helpful, especially if you add behavior codes on pairing (P), courtship display (C), nest building (NB), adult feeding young out of the nest (FY), or young loons recently fledged, on or with the adults (FL). Species comments with plumage descriptions (breeding, partial molts, downy) and media – photos and vocalization files – add interest to your checklist, inspire other birders, and provide great cues for verifying those records. And, if you’d like to share your loon observations directly with WDFW with greater detail, you can submit those here.

Global Big Day is happening!

This is it! The time has come! Birding’s biggest day is here. Global Big Day has already begun in places like Australia and New Zealand, and the first sightings are on the board. Follow along with real-time updates here. Over the next few days, sightings from 13 May will pour in from all over the world. If you can make it outside for just a few minutes to find at least one bird on 13 May, you’ll be able to join a global team that spans more than 150 countries. Learn how to make your sightings count. We’ll see you out there!