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Birding in the 21st Century.

News and Features

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.

Crossbills of North America: Species and Red Crossbill Call Types 

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.

October eBirder of the Month Challenge

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.

Using eBird as a Land Trust Stewardship Tool

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.

Swallow-tailed Gull appears in Puget Sound

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.

eBird Science: Prioritizing dynamic conservation for migratory birds

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.