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Taxonomy update for 2014

For American birders, large rail splits are most likely to give Life Lists a boost in this revision. Be careful reporting Clapper Rail: it should only be used for East Coast and Gulf Coast birds now! Photo of Clapper Rail in Massachusetts by Ryan Schain.

The taxonomic update for 2014 is now complete in eBird. The names and sequence have been changed and eBird records have been updated in cases of splits and lumps. This update includes taxonomic revisions introduced (or accepted) since August 2013 by the two committees of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the North American Classification Committee (NACC) and the South American Classification Committee (SACC), including several splits detailed below. In North America the most significant change was the split of Clapper Rail into Clapper, Ridgway’s, and Mangrove Rails and the split of King Rail into King and Aztec Rails. In the tropical Americas, Sirystes was split into four species, Bicolored Antbird was split into two, and Knipolegus black-tyrants were revised, among others. In Eurasia, Mourning Wheatear was split into three species, Arctic Warbler was split into three species (two occur in North America, one as a breeder and one as a vagrant or rare migrant) and Two-barred Warbler was split from Greenish Warbler.

July Hotspot of Month–6th Avenue Marsh

6th Avenue Marsh by Mike Reese

With July being the month when shorebirds commence their southerly migration through Wisconsin, it seems fitting that one of Adams County’s top shorebirding hotspots is chosen as the Hotspot of the Month. Rob Pendergast, leading eBirder for Adams County, takes on a tour of 6th Avenue Marsh. Located in the northwestern portion of Adams County, 6th Avenue Marsh is a premier location for avian life. This man-made marsh was created for irrigating cranberry crops during the summer months. The water is increasingly drawn down as summer progresses to fall which has the benefit of attracting an impressive diversity of shorebirds. The best vantage point is along 6th Avenue, ¼ mile south of County Highway D. Viewing the marsh is limited to the roadside as this area is privately owned.

Got shorebirds? Your guide to finding them in fall 2014

Semipalmated Sandpiper by David Franzen

Shorebirds are on the move again, stopping over at suitable habitats here in Wisconsin en route from Canadian breeding areas to wintering areas well to our south. As in previous years, Wisconsin DNR staff have highlighted this fascinating group of early migrants with a featured news story outlining the management of shorebird habitat, how birders […]

June Hotspot of the Month–Tiffany Wildlife Area

Tiffany Railway at Tiffany State Wildlife Area

June’s Wisconsin eBird Hotspot of the Month takes us to Buffalo County. Anne Geraghty, a high school biology teacher from nearby Eau Claire, leads us on an exciting tour of the Tiffany Wildlife Area (WA). Buffalo County is a great place for birds and birders. Its southwestern border is the Mississippi River, which twice a year offers up the spectacle of tundra swans and other waterfowl in migration. The blufflands, which comprise the majority of the county, are perhaps the best area in the state to find overwintering golden eagles. At its southern tip, Buffalo County contains part of the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and on its western border, it shares the Tiffany Wildlife Area (WA) with adjacent Pepin County. While the Trempealeau NWR gets its fair share of birding attention, the Tiffany WA does not – and it probably deserves better!

Changes to Flickr embed code

Tree-Pipit3-Illiff270x300

A large number of eBirders are now adding photos to their checklists, and this has made interacting with eBird much more fun. It is also a tremendous help to our tireless review team, who can use the photos to assess records rare birds reported. Please keep including photos in your checklists! However, one of the primary sites used by eBirders, Flickr (www.flickr.com) has yet again changed the process for photo embedding. This story provides a quick review in how to embed photos using the newest version of Flickr. Note that over the next year, eBird will be working on improving how photos are added to checklists to make it easier, more versatile, and less reliant on third-party websites that regularly change their code.

May Hotspot of the Month–Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area

LePage Creek Overlook

For the month of May, we find ourselves in the northeast part of Wisconsin in Florence County. Kay Kavanagh, one of Wisconsin’s veteran birders who has held such roles as past Winter Season Compiler for the Passenger Pigeon and contributing author to Wisconsin’s Favorite Bird Haunts, takes us on a journey to Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area (SNA). Spread Eagle Barrens SNA consists of 7155 acres of pine barrens, bracken grasslands, both dry and wet forests, and 2 small lakes, Barrens and Sand. The Pine River runs through the southern portion of this natural area and the Menominee River borders the area on the east. The diverse habitat of the barrens attracts 168 breeding and migrating species.

April Hotspot of the Month–Ball Rd. (Wood Co.)

WoodCounty1

Wood County, only two hours from Madison and much less from Stevens Point and La Crosse, offers surprisingly remote and diverse birding for birders looking for a different and rewarding area to bird. It lies very close to the ecological tension zone, offering both northern and southern ecosystems and wildlife communities. Ball road is one of the best ways to access some of this habitat as it cuts its way east/west through wet forest, sandy forest, cattail marsh and expansive sedge marsh. In this article, we will explore Ball road as it stretches west from Sandhill State Wildlife Area to the Jackson County border.

It’s time for the 2014 Great Wisconsin Birdathon!

Cedar Waxwing by Ryan Brady

As you’re probably already aware, the 2014 Great Wisconsin Birdathon is happening in May. Participants spend any portion of a 24-hour period birding and solicit pledges for the total number of species seen. The birdathon is an excellent way to directly support bird conservation work in Wisconsin. You can donate to an existing team, bird on your own, start your own team, or join a birding field trip. Read on to find out which Wisconsin eBird team members are involved this year.

March Hotspot of the Month–Tom Lawin Wildlife Area and Woodfords’ Ponds

Sandhill Crane Family at Tom Lawin Wildlife Area by Bruce Steger

For March, the randomly selected Wisconsin eBird Hotspot of the Month takes us to Chippewa County, where Bruce Steger provides a retrospective tour of the greater Tom Lawin Wildlife Area. The area described covers a 1.25 mile radius circle centered in the Tom Lawin Wildlife Area located less than 2 miles south-southeast of Jim Falls. It includes two different eBird hotspots and the adjacent Jim Falls sewage ponds that can also provide excellent shorebird viewing.

Reporting Sensitive Species in Wisconsin eBird

Kirtland's Warbler. Photo by Nick Anich.

We typically encourage eBirders to be accurate when reporting bird locations, however there are some cases when it might be best not to have detailed information on a bird sighting available to the general public. These instances include birds that can be very sensitive to disturbance, rare nesting species, or cases where birder pressure could cause negative effects. Read on to find out the best practices for dealing with these issues in Wisconsin.