Few birds spark as much awe and excitement among even the most casual nature enthusiast as the Snowy Owl. Each winter brings a varying number of these arctic visitors to Wisconsin and the lower 48, leaving eager birders to wonder annually what each year will have in store. Well, to many birders’ delight, Snowies are [...]
December 14 will begin the 114th Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season, and the first big weekend of counts will be 15-16 December. The Christmas Count is the largest and longest-running ornithological citizen science project. Its data are a great complement to what we are collecting in eBird, and indeed the CBC has paved the way for eBird in many respects. It is not a problem to enter data in eBird and then submit it for the CBC too, since the two projects are collecting data in similar ways, but at different scales. eBird can be a great way to store your sector-level data and compare it from year to year.
For November, Wisconsin eBird takes us to Taylor County for the Hotspot of the Month. Rory Cameron, a native of Rice Lake who has lived and worked in Chippewa County since 1975, is one of few people who birds Taylor County with some regularity. In addition to birding, he enjoys running, biking, reading, and playing the Highland Bagpipe. He graciously agreed to profile Pershing Wildlife Area, one of the go-to spots for Sharp-tailed Grouse in the state.
There is no better month to find a Little Gull in much of North America than November. This fall has produced one of the stronger showings for this species in recent years with birds appearing from the Front Range of Colorado to southern Illinois and Tennessee. Coastal sightings stretch from Newfoundland to Virginia. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have also had strong showings for the species this year, including at the species’ North American stronghold along the Niagara River, where dozens of Little Gulls can sometimes be found among the tens of thousands of Bonaparte’s. Three at Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior, Wisconsin on 25 November were a great count so far west. As we head into a long Thanksgiving weekend, try checking open water near you for Little Gull. Bring your camera!
The 2012-13 winter season was one to remember, featuring a spectacular superflight of winter finches and remarkable invasion of northern owls across the western Great Lakes. No birder could realistically expect a similar performance just a year later, and indeed the popular “Winter Finch Forecast” by Ontario’s Ron Pittaway predicted a relatively poor showing across [...]
Only 10 minutes from Three Lakes, 20 minutes from Eagle River, and a half hour from Crandon, the Headwaters Wilderness Area (part of Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest) is one of the most unique and rewarding birding options in the state. This network of roads in northwest Forest County is the best and most accessible spot in the state to find boreal specialty species, as well as winter finches and a plethora of breeding warblers, sparrows, thrushes, and flycatchers. Of particular interest is Forest road 2182, also known as Sheltered Valley Road or Pine River Road. This road likely bisects more tamarack and black spruce swamp over a few-mile stretch than any other easily accessible road in the state. Therefore, it is the best road to search for the specialty species of this habitat.
While it might not seem random at all, September’s randomly selected county for Wisconsin eBird’s Hotspot of the Month, is Douglas. As many of you know, Douglas County is a September birding destination for many birders around the state who attend Wisconsin Society for Ornithology’s Jaegerfest field trip. Ted Keyel, one of the top eBirders from Douglas County, who just started his first year as a graduate student in the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Integrated Biosciences Program, chose to profile one of his favorite birding gems, Wisconsin Point. This article is a must read for anyone excited about birding in the state of Wisconsin. The list of rarities seen at this location is quite remarkable!
Two of the most challenging species to separate from each other during fall migration are the Blackpoll and Bay-breasted Warblers – so much so that observed individuals are often referred to by birders as “Baypolls”. In this article, Wisconsin warbler guru Tom Schultz (one of two illustrators of the Peterson Field Guide to Warblers of North America) breaks down key identification features for these confusing fall warblers.
With this year’s taxonomy update eBird has made significant changes in how eBirders should report their Rock Pigeons. This is driven largely by the fact that eBird is a *global* system and needs to be consistent throughout the world. Starting immediately ALL RECORDS FROM THE AMERICAS INCLUDING WISCONSIN should be entered as “Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon).”
For the first time birders can explore eBird’s site information in a map-based tool designed to provide quick access to the information they need. Discover the best places for birding nearby or around the world. The Hotspot Explorer provides a completely new way to plan birding trips, putting millions of records from over 100,000 eBirders around the world into your hands. At a glance, you can see which birding locations have the most species. You can filter to show only the results for a particular month, or for the last 10 years, or sites with visits during the last month. The hotspot explorer may even help reveal some hidden gems near you that you never knew about!