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Bringing VABBA2 into the outdoor classroom

The 2017 Atlas season is rolling along and it’s high time to begin our volunteer profile series! These articles introduce members of our Atlas community who are making significant and unique contributions to the project. To kick of 2017, meet Dan Bieker! Dan began his career with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, working on Wood Ducks and American Kestrels. Nowadays, he owns a horse farm in Albemarle county and teaches for Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC). Dan has been a 30-year member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO), serves on the board, and is now the incoming Vice President.

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.

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.

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.

Bird Academy giveaway—Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology

Have you ever wanted to learn more about how birds navigate in migration? The science behind flight? We’re excited to partner with the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy to offer a suite of exciting educational resources in thanks for your eBirding: on 13 May, Global Big Day, every eligible checklist that you submit gives you a chance to get free access to Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology Course. This is a ~$350 value with the included e-book, and we’ll have 5 copies to give away.

Five lucky eBirders will get this course for free from their Global Big Day eBirding! If you like taking part in the eBirder of the Month Challenges, here are even more excuses to motivate yourself to get out birding. Each month of 2017 will feature a different Bird Academy course offering—tune in at the start of June to see what’s on tap for next month.

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.

Student Adventures in Atlasing

The Atlas is a great opportunity to engage students, as well as birders, with wildlife conservation and to provide chances for learning more about bird identification and behavior. To that end, we are encouraging professors and students from around Virginia to consider how they might like to get involved with the VABBA2. This spring, I had the chance to work with Jessy Wilson, a student at Bridgewater College, and her Ornithology professor, Dr. Robyn Puffenbarger. Jessy decided to focus her Ornithology honors project on the Atlas project and we worked up a specific project for her, documenting nocturnal species. She wrote a great article about her experience, so enjoy…

eBird data support conservation actions

Every observation you submit to eBird is valuable, and with roughly 400 million records gathered so far, eBird has grown into one of the premier information sources on bird occurrence and abundance around the world. Importantly, eBird data are curated, managed, and made freely available for education, research, and conservation use, and tens of thousands of people download eBird data each year. But how are these data actually being used out there in the real world? A recently published paper in the journal Biological Conservation examines this question, and highlights how eBird data are being used in a broad array of conservation applications around the world. The effort you put into collecting data on birds is truly making a difference! Thank you. Read on to find out more, or jump straight to the article here.

April eBirder of the Month Challenge

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, helps make eBird easier than ever. As technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds with every passing month and year, the birding tools that we can provide improve apace. The perfect example is eBird Mobile—a mobile data-entry app for eBird that makes it faster and easier to track your bird sightings than ever before. More than 150,000 people have downloaded eBird Mobile so far, using the app in 26 languages—come join the fun! The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists using eBird Mobile in April. Checklists must be for observations during this month, not historical checklists entered during April. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

Atlasing After Dark: an introduction to nocturnal surveys

Nighttime surveys are often the last step needed to ‘complete’ or finish an Atlas block. This aspect of atlasing can seem a little challenging, so this article provides guidance for volunteers who are ready to start working on nighttime atlasing or for anyone interested in nocturnal species surveys. If you take nothing else away, remember that your safety is the most important part of any Atlas effort. Please pay attention to suggestions for safe practices below.