December eBirder of the Month Challenge

By lsoren December 5, 2016

The Red-legged Thrush is a Caribbean endemic, found from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico. This friendly bird is typically seen hopping on the ground where it forages for worms and other insects. (photo by Dax Roman)

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, highlights the value of splitting your day of birding into multiple lists. By keeping multiple lists throughout a morning or day of birding, the information that you’re collecting is much more valuable—both for your own personal records and for researchers and conservationists! Sound too difficult? Give it a try—it’s easier than you think, especially when you use eBird Mobile! If you’re out on a Christmas Bird Count this month, or just out on the weekend with a few friends, this is a perfect chance to take your eBirding up a notch. The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 3 or more eligible checklists in a single day in December. Each day that you submit 3 eligible checklists gives you one chance to win. Checklists must be for observations during this month, not historical checklists entered during December. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

December is a fun time to be a birder. Across much of the Americas and including some Caribbean countries, it is Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season, a time to participate in what was perhaps the first case of counting birds for conservation. On Christmas Day, 1900, Frank Chapman engaged 27 birders from 14 states and 2 Canadian provinces to count birds, beginning the Christmas Count Count as we know it today. The original call-to-action in 1900 was published in Bird-Lore, among the prominent ornithological publications of the time. A paragraph from the original Bird-Lore piece may recollect some of the information included in our eBird checklists today:

“Now Bird-Lore proposes a new king of Christmas side hunt, in the form of a Christmas bird-census, and we hope that all our readers who have the opportunity will aid us in making it a success by spending a portion of Christmas Day with the birds and sending a report of their ‘hunt’ to Bird-Lore before they retire that night. Such reports should be headed by the locality, hour of starting and of returning, character of the weather, direction and force of the wind, and the temperature; the latter taken when starting. The birds observed should then be added, following the order in which they are given in the A.O.U. ‘Check List’ with, if possible, the exact or approximate number of individuals of each species observed.”

This year, when you’re out eBirding for the CBC, Caribbean Waterbird Census, Global Big Day, World Shorebirds Day or just out for fun enjoying birding at different sites on your island, take the chance to keep more than one list for the entire day. When you get in the car, stop the list and begin a new one when you get back out. This finer-scale information will be that much more valuable for you in the future, and for the birds. Learn how to eBird your CBCs here.

Outside of the CBC realm, there is still of course a lot to see in December! For much of the Southern Hemisphere, this is early summer, and birds are singing and breeding willy-nilly. If you spend a day poking around your local patches, keep a different list for each one! In the Caribbean, we are blessed with an abundance of winter visitors which much color and interest to our birding adventures. You can also use eBird Mobile to track the breeding evidence that you may see with ease in the field.

Wherever you are, December is waiting for you to go round our your 2016 year lists, get those last checklists in, and prepare for a bright new year around the corner. Happy eBirding!

Each month we will feature a new eBird challenge and set of selection criteria. The monthly winners will each receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular.

Carl Zeiss Sports Optics is a proven leader in sports optics and is the official optics sponsor for eBird. “Carl Zeiss feels strongly that by partnering with the Cornell Lab we can provide meaningful support for their ability to carry out their research, conservation, and education work around the world,” says Mike Jensen,  President of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, North America. “The Cornell Lab is making a difference for birds, and from the highest levels of our company we’re committed to promoting birding and the Lab’s work, so there’s a great collaboration. eBird is a truly unique and synergistic portal between the Lab and birders, and we welcome the opportunity to support them both.”

Find out more:

eBirder of the Month