From an Eastern Screech Owl in Wilder on January 1st to a Snowy Owl in Bridport on December 31st, Vermont birders scoured fields and fens, mountains and meadows, lakes and lawns to discover as many bird species as possible during the 7th annual Vermont eBird County Quest. With nearly 40,000 complete checklists submitted to Vermont eBird, comprising over 300,000 bird records, representing 281 bird species, and tallied by 1,732 birders in 2017, there is no doubt it was another banner year for birders and Vermont eBird. Franklin County, once an under-birded underdog, topped the field for the 4th year in a row and claimed the 2017 Quest Cup with a record score of 34.5 birds over par.
This month closes out Vermont eBird’s 14th year. Your contributions have made Vermont eBird the largest community-driven biodiversity dataset ever amassed in the Green Mountain State. Nearly 2,000 Vermont eBirders have submitted 260,000 complete checklists, representing all 385 species of birds ever reported from Vermont. We are constantly inspired by the power and passion of this world of interconnected birders, and we are excited as we look to the future of what we can achieve. Don’t forget: these are all your achievements. It is your information that powers the eBird engine. Every time you go out and keep a list of birds, you’re making a real contribution to our understanding of Vermont’s ever-changing avian biodiversity. Thank you!
Its finally happening. Red Crossbills are arriving. This year’s bumper cone crop of pine, spruce, larch, and hemlock is perhaps a once in couple-decades event. As a result, crossbills were predicted to flood into the region and birders have been waiting with anticipation. But they remain an enigma and birders like you can help solve some of the mysteries. There are 10 types of Red Crossbills and understanding how these different types wander about the continent, or not, is a puzzle that will require an army of observers – birders like you – armed with recording devices and eBird.
Putney Mountain, Vermont’s only hawkwatch operated every day during fall migration, tallied a record 14,823 raptors this year, with an unprecedented Broad-winged Hawk flight of 11,728 birds passing by the mountain. The hawkwatch is entirely run by a dedicated group of volunteers, organized by John Anderson. During the 2017 season, they watched for 72 days, which breaks down to 562 hours and 2,168 watcher hours, averaging about 4 watchers per hour and 8 hours per day!
The Vermont Bird Records Committee held its annual meeting on 11 November 2017 at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. The 37th annual report of the VBRC covers the evaluation of 46 records involving 28 species and 3 subspecies or ‘identifiable subspecific forms’. Forty records were accepted (87%) with the majority decided unanimously.
The 118th Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14 through January 5. This is perhaps the longest running citizen science project in Vermont. Each count occurs in a designated circle, 15 miles in diameter, and is led by an experienced birder, or designated “compiler”. Read more to learn where Vermont CBCs are located, date of counts and compiler contact information.
The Christmas Count is the largest and longest-running ornithological citizen science project. Vermont eBird can be a great way to store your sector-level data and compare it from year to year. It is not a problem to enter data in Vermont eBird and then submit it for the CBC too, since the two projects are collecting data in similar ways, but at different scales. Learn more about how you can best add your CBC observations to Vermont 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.
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.
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.