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Birding in the 21st Century.

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eBirding your Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season is upon us again! This is a great time to join others and cooperate in a massive effort across the Western Hemisphere to take a snapshot of bird occurrence around the holidays. For three weeks each year (14 December to 5 January) tens of thousands of birders head out to […]

Grassland Birds in Oregon’s Willamette Valley

Grassland birds in the Willamette Valley are in trouble. With less than one percent of the area’s historical prairie habitats remaining, the species that depend on open, grassy areas to feed and raise their young are declining. At the time of Euro-American settlement, the Valley was a mosaic of wet and dry prairies, oak savannas, and forests. Native Americans, who used many of the prairie plants for food, set fires to grasslands to enhance the growth of their favorite plants and create open areas for hunting and traveling. Fire prevented many shrubs and trees from growing, resulting in vast grasslands and wildflower meadows. Since that time, development and land use, cultivation, and restrictive and alternative burning practices have all altered the landscape.

December eBirder of the Month Challenge

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, encourages precise eBirding through eBird Mobile. On iOS and Android, the free eBird Mobile app allows you to ‘track’ your checklists using GPS—providing unprecedented detail in your eBird checklists on where exactly you went birding. You can just focus on birding, and let the app do the work!  The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists with eBird Mobile ‘tracks’ in December. Checklists must be for observations during this month; not historical checklists entered during November. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

December Bird Academy giveaway: Raptor ID

Winter is a great time for raptors, with some species like Rough-legged Hawk and Northern Goshawk only moving into some areas in winter. As wonderful as hawks are, they can be bewilderingly similar, and highly variable! We’re excited to partner with the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academyto offer a suite of exciting educational resources in thanks for your eBirding: in December, every eligible checklist that you submit gives you a chance to get free access to Be a Better Birder: Hawk and Raptor Identification.

How to report backtracking distance in eBird

Distance within eBird should be the unique distance you covered along a trail, road, or water body, whether by foot, bike, car, kayak, or some even more adventurous means of moving across the landscape. If you submit a single checklist for an out-and-back birding event, only report the one-way distance. Shorter distance checklists are strongly preferred, ideally 1 kilometer or less, but do your best to keep it under 8 kilometers (5 miles). eBird Mobile tracks make this easier than ever. 

Sensitive Species in eBird

Bird populations are at risk all around the world. As of 2015, BirdLife International assessed that 13% of bird species are threatened with extinction. eBird collects site-specific data on these birds—as well as the other 9500 bird species in the world—and this is a great benefit to birders, researchers, and conservationists around the world. We cannot protect the species we care about without knowing where and when they occur. However, these site-level data can also put certain species at incredible risk. Fine-scale site information can be used by hunters and trappers to target certain species. eBird has a responsibility to protect the specific locations of these species so that the data are not used to exploit these birds. Our new Sensitive Species initiative provides this protection.

New Macaulay Library media search, specimen pages

Two years ago this week, eBird changed forever—giving you the ability to add photos and audio directly to your checklists and archive them in the Macaulay Library (ML). Thanks to the contributions of tens of thousands of eBirders, the ML multimedia archive now contains more than 5 million digital specimens—photos, audio, and video—representing more than 9,500 species of birds and thousands of other animal species. These resources have built new eBird tools like the Illustrated Checklist, form the backbone of the Merlin Bird ID app, and will be a crucial part of new innovation in the future. Stay tuned for a new photo ID helper built into the eBird checklist process… Thanks to the Macaulay Library team for this roundup of the new tools for eBirders.

Federal grant will advance conservation of imperiled wildlife on Washington and Oregon prairies

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded $499,997 to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for conservation of Northwest prairie species and their habitat through its competitive State Wildlife Grant program. This will benefit the rare Oregon Vesper Sparrow and other imperiled species of the oak-grassland systems west of the Cascades.

Federal funds for the project (entitled Conservation of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and Pollinators in Washington and Oregon Prairie Habitat) will be matched by $369,863 in non-federal dollars from state agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Project partners include the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, American Bird Conservancy, Center for Natural Lands Management, Greenbelt Land Trust, Institute for Applied Ecology, Metro, San Juan County Land Bank, and Washington Department of Natural Resources.

eBird Science: Bright lights in the big city—impacts of artificial lighting on bird migration

Every year from sunset on September 11th to sunrise on September 12th, the lights of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s Tribute in Light are turned on in remembrance of the lives lost during the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. Beams from eighty-eight 7500-watt bulbs cast light skyward in two towering pillars as high as the eye can see, noticeable for a 100-mile radius around New York City. And it’s not just people that take notice: nocturnally migrating birds are attracted and disoriented by the lights. At times a close look can reveal tens of thousands ceaselessly circling through the beams. In a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), “High-intensity urban light installation dramatically alters nocturnal bird migration,” authors from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Oxford University, and New York City Audubon quantify the impact of this light installation on nocturnally migrating birds using radar, acoustics, and visual counts archived on eBird.

November eBirder of the Month Challenge

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, encourages precise eBirding. When you go out, try keeping a few lists for your birding. If you get in the car, stop that checklist and start a new one when you get out at the next location. Check several locations to cover more ground, and who knows what you’ll find! The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 3 or more eligible checklists in one day in November. Each day with 3 or more eligible checklists is one chance to win. Checklists must be for observations during this month; not historical checklists entered during November. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.