News & Features

New Report: Wildlife-Associated Recreation is Very Big Business

A report on the preliminary findings of the 2016 National Survey on wildlife-associated recreation provide evidence that wildlife-watching is an increasing economic force in America. Birding is a big part of this. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife report released in September is called the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation: National Overview. A more comprehensive report will be released in December. This report has been published every 5 years since 1955. With so many questions about public support of wildlife habitat and programs, it is very heartening to see that various forms of wildlife recreation are going strong. In 2016, over 101 million Americans, about 40 percent of the population, participated in a form of outdoor recreation that involved wildlife. This includes not only the traditional “consumptive” hunting, fishing but also “non-consumptive” wildlife enjoyment such as birding and nature photography. Check it out at: https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/nat_survey2016.pdf
Wildlife watching is growing in popularity. If we compare participation in the 2016 survey results with the two previous surveys, there are significant increases of 21 percent and 20 percent respectively. The biggest difference between these time periods is the number of participants who enjoyed wildlife near their homes, an 18 percent increase from 2011 to 2016.

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 […]

Bumper Red Spruce Cone Crop May Attract Conifer Birds

This has been an extraordinary year for spruce cones in the Northeast. This may be the best cone crop in more than a decade in the Northeast. There may not be a huge irruption year for any bird species, but the cones are ready for the taking in northern Pennsylvania! Our own native spruces—red and black spruce—did very well this year. The exotic Norway spruces also have produced many cones. In addition, some birders are finding large numbers of hemlock cones that also may be a factor for fall and winter bird populations. There also are many ripe mountain ash berries in the mountains that are attractive to several boreal birds.
With this big cone crop, we could see conifer birds taking advantage of this temporarily abundant food source. Both Red and White-winged Crossbills, as well as Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pine Siskin, and many finches may take advantage of these cone crops. These red spruce forests are mostly in the Northeast region including North Mountain and the Poconos. Some areas for birders to focus on are the forests around Ricketts and Lopez on North Mountain and the Poconos around Blakeslee, Long Pond, Gouldsboro, Thornhurst, and Promised Land. Many birds forage on the smaller cones produced by hemlocks. This may translate into more chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, siskins, and other finches anywhere that hemlocks produce seeds.

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 September containing at least one photo or sound with a rating. 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.

American Birding Expo Hits Pennsylvania, September 29 – October 1

Philadelphia can claim to be the birthplace not only of the nation but also of American ornithology and the birding tradition. This is where Alexander Wilson, the first American ornithologist, lived and worked on his seminal “American Ornithology.” Anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors watching birds and spending time indoors learning more about them and meeting others with the same interest will feel welcome at the American Birding Expo. For an abundance of information about this event, please see its website: https://www.americanbirdingexpo.com/. There will be an exciting offering of speakers and presentations touching on many aspects of birding ranging from the backyard to the tropics. There also will be many opportunities to meet other birders of all levels of experience and interest and visit many interesting birding equipment and art venders. The event will be staged at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania, from September 29 to October 1, but includes events elsewhere in the Greater Philadelphia area. Pennsylvanians like George Armistead, Scott Weidensaul, Carrie Barron of the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove are featured at this exciting event.

September eBirder of the Month Challenge

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.

Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology 2017 Annual Meeting in Cumberland County

Birders from all over the state are invited September 15 through 17 to Carlisle, Cumberland County for a time of great birding, making and renewing friendships, and an opportunity to increase their knowledge about the birds they find so fascinating! There is something for everyone!
Although the meetings usually occur in spring, great birding meetings can also be held in the fall months. There is a rich variety of field trips to introduce everyone to the great birding spots in the Cumberland County region. Saturday and Sunday field trips will include birding the migrant-rich Blue and Kittatinny ridges of the Michaux and Tuscarora state forests, exploring the grounds of the former State Hospital and Wildwood Lake Park in Harrisburg, venturing to Miller’s Gap and Lamb’s Gap, Little Buffalo State Park, and state game lands 169 and 230, along with a mix of history and birds on the battlefields of Gettysburg and the ever-popular Audubon Hawk Watch at Wagoner’s Gap at the height of Broad-winged Hawk migration. The meeting location will be the Comfort Suites, 10 South Hanover St., Carlisle, PA 17013.

The meeting also will feature excellent speakers and some awards. The speakers include Ian Gardner, Andy Wilson, Art McMorris, and Ted Floyd. Scott Weidensaul will be recognized for his significant contributions to Pennsylvania ornithology as the winner of the 2017 Earl Poole Award. The Conservation Award will be given to the Audubon Hawkwatch at Waggoner’s Gap in Cumberland County.

August eBirder of the Month Challenge

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, encourages you to get our birding every day in one of the least-eBirded months of the year. The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 31 eligible checklists during August.  Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month. August is an interesting time in much of the world, when the boreal breeding season is ending and spring is beginning to think about returning to the southern reaches of our planet. Many birds are wandering from their normal habitats, and there’s a lot for us to learn about where and when birds occur. Shorebird migration is in full swing across the northern hemisphere and many passerines begin their migration in August too. Let’s get out and see what we can find in August!

Get it Right – How to Change Species on your Checklists

Have you ever uploaded a photo or audio recording to an eBird checklist, only to realize after the fact that it’s under the wrong species? Then you had to delete the photo from eBird, go back to your photo archive, and re-upload to the new species. Or if a reviewer notified you about an error on a checklist, just changing an observation could be a bit tricky as well—especially if you had notes, breeding codes, and age/sex information to move over to the new species. This all got a lot easier today: we are excited to announce a new and easy way to edit your checklists with the Change Species button on the checklist editing page. Go to “Manage My Checklists” and choose “Edit Species List” while viewing one of your eBird checklists to change any of your species.

The Elusive and Mysterious Sedge Wren

The little Sedge Wren is a most peculiar species of songbird. Formerly known as the Short-billed Marsh Wren, it has a broad distribution throughout much of the Americas. In North America, it is a nomadic bird that opportunistically nests in wet areas with fine vegetation — grass and sedge meadows, wetlands, and fields. With the wet summer, there is the potential for Sedge Wrens to colonize places in Pennsylvania that meet their criteria. Some nesting activity has been found in the Southeast, but perhaps there are other nesting events going unnoticed. Now would be a good time to look for this elusive and fascinating tiny songbird, and study its chattering song and plumage characteristics that distinguish it from other little wrens. We also remind birders that good birding etiquette should be part of any rare bird search. Avoid interrupting any breeding activity or nesting potential of Sedge Wrens and refrain from damaging its fragile habitat. Please respect the wishes of any private landowner and avoid trespassing on private property. Keep to the trail and keep an eye on the wrens for a great experience. Go looking for Sedge Wrens this August for an added challenge in Pennsylvania birding. Here is information gleaned about the fascinating Sedge Wren from the Pennsylvania Game Commission website, updated for 2017.