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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!

Informing Science-based Evaluation and Expansion of Protected Areas

****News Release: May 8, 2017 6:15 AM PDT****

Ashland, OR – New study demonstrates an improved approach to ensure protected areas enhance and conserve biodiversity. The results of the study were used to inform expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

A team of researchers from the Klamath Bird Observatory, Point Blue Conservation Science, and other partner organizations used big data and fine-scaled modeling to 1) evaluate an existing network of protected areas in the Klamath Siskiyou Bioregion or southern Oregon and northern California, and 2) to identify and prioritize new areas for protection. The study used birds as indicators of important habitats and biodiversity.

The researchers found that the region’s protected areas, including seven National Parks and Monuments, were protecting coniferous forest habitat, however adequate amounts of grassland and oak woodland habitats were not being protected. Birds that are associated with these under-protected habitats have been identified as at-risk at both national and regional scales and the conservation of grasslands and oak woodlands has become a priority.

Global Big Day—one week away

The familiar Barn Swallow (right) has been recorded in eBird from 222 countries. You can hope to spot a Barn Swallow almost anywhere on the planet, from Alaska to Argentina, Siberia to Australia, Iceland to South Africa. Barn Swallows criss-cross the equator and traverse the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Their movements not only span an entire planet of birds, but connect a worldwide community of birders.

In the same way, Global Big Day and eBird connect all of your local birds with the rest of the world, making a real difference in the collective understanding of birds worldwide. On 13 May, every bird that you report contributes to the global team total for an unprecedented snapshot of our planet’s bird diversity. Every bird counts.

April Millions

Last month brought two major milestones for eBird, amazingly each of the same bird species! On 8 April, Bill Thompson submitted a checklist from Massachusetts that included a Red-tailed Hawk: the 400-millionth sighting in eBird. A couple weeks later, Suzanne Pudelek added a photo of a Red-tailed Hawk from Michigan—the 3-millionth bird photograph in the Macaulay Library. These exciting benchmarks are a testament to the amazing contributions from you, the global community of eBirders. We’re profoundly grateful for everything that you do as a part of eBird. Thank you. Half-billion, here we come.

May eBirder of the Month Challenge

This May’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, is all about birding on Global Big Day! 13 May is the third Global Big Day, bringing together birders around the world for birding’s biggest day. In last year’s Global Big Day we noted 6,332 species together as a global birding community—can we top that this year?! The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 3 or more eligible checklists on 13 May. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

Global Big Day webinars: 9 & 11 May

The Cornell Lab’s BirdSleuth K-12 education program will be hosting a webinar for educators focusing on Global Big Day. The webinar will be offered four times, twice each in English and Spanish, on 9 May and 11 May. See below for times. The English version (1 hour) will give educators the confidence to work with students around migration, eBird, and Global Big Day. During this webinar educators will learn how to define migration and understand the purpose of these seasonal movements; understand the concept of citizen science and the program eBird; explore citizen-science data through an educators perspective; and how to participate in Global Big Day. The Spanish webinar (30 minutes) will be more generalized and discuss how educators can engage their communities in Global Big Day.