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.
You can now view a digital bird guide for any hotspot or region in the world: an Illustrated Checklist. The best part? It’s all using sightings that you contributed! We take the highest-rated photo and sound from the Macaulay Library, combine with eBird data to show seasonal occurrence, and include the last date when a species was seen in that place. The result: a quick overview for the region that gives the most relevant information. Want your photo to be the best image for that region? Add them to your eBird checklists! To check out Illustrated Checklists, search for any region or search for any hotspot. At the top of the species list you’ll see a new tab titled “Illustrated Checklist”. Here’s Vermont as an example.
Your bird sightings can influence more than just the birding and conservation worlds. eBird checklists are a quintessential example of ‘Big Data’—a massive dataset, chock full of patterns, that contains myriad opportunities to explore exciting questions in fields like statistics or machine learning. Giles Hooker, Associate Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, has been using eBird data to understand inherent biases in predictive models that use large datasets. How do you control for as much bias as possible? How can you quantify uncertainty? Read more about how your eBird data are having impact here.
The Second Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Vermont (2003-2007), a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, was an amazing effort by the birding community. Many of us searched the state to document breeding bird species. The atlas collected important conservation information and it was a lot of fun. Many of us miss it! But with Vermont eBird, the atlas never ends! We want you to keep documenting the nesting status of the birds you are finding. Read more and learn how you can make your Vermont eBird sightings even more valuable by adding breeding information.
Coming from a leafy shrub is the pure song of a Blue-winged Warbler, just as it sounds on your smart phone app. Searching for the songster, you find the singing bird but it definitely not the coloration of the Blue-winged in your field guide. Yikes! What to do? The so-called “winged warblers” are a complex of Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers and their many hybrids. They are most commonly found in shrubby, abandoned farm fields. Two of the hybrids are known by the names Brewster’s Warbler and Lawrence’s Warbler. Population structures appear to be rapidly changing here in Vermont and elsewhere, and we are trying to keep track of what is going on