eBirding the World Big Year - January Update

By Team eBird February 5, 2015

Cape Petrel was my first bird of the year! Photo by Noah Strycker

The year is off to a good start! In January I visited parts of Antarctica, the Drake Passage, the Falkland Islands, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, and ended the month with 718 species – not a bad beginning, considering I spent the first two weeks of the year in some relatively un-diverse places. The species total started to kick into gear when I hit Argentina and Brazil during the second half of the month, and should keep ramping up as I work my way through the South and Central American tropics in February, March, and April.

It’s hard to pick from so many, but some of my favorite birds this month were Adelie Penguin, Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, Tucuman Mountain-Finch, Harpy Eagle, and Zigzag Heron. It was particularly fun to stand on the shores of the Antarctic continent, watch condors soaring in the El Yeso Valley in Chile, discover a great birding spot in Entre Rios north of Buenos Aires, compete with other tourists to see Iguazu Falls, and spend a day in Brazil’s Pantanal. And this is just the beginning!

A visit to Iguazu Falls ticked Great Dusky Swifts ;) Photo by Noah Strycker

A visit to Iguazu Falls ticked Great Dusky Swifts
Photo by Noah Strycker

After a month on the road, I’m getting the hang of using the BirdLog app, which is how I keep track of my sightings on eBird. In January I submitted 102 complete checklists, no sweat. BirdLog is great, once you learn to use it; in areas without internet you just have to remember to pull down a local checklist for the area you’ll be birding ahead of time, which makes things much easier in the field. Then I upload my in-progress checklists to eBird whenever I get a 3G cell connection or find a wifi spot. Using BirdLog means that all my list-keeping is done in real time, instead of having to sit down at the end of each long day and slog through data entry, which just wouldn’t be possible on my current schedule (most days I end up spotlighting somewhere and drop into bed straight afterward).

I am impressed so far to find that many of the birders I have met in the field are also using eBird, and those who don’t are generally quite interested in it. Some use other, more local sites – in Argentina, for instance, there is a site called Ecoregistros, and many Brazilians use the huge site WikiAves. But more South American birders are using eBird than I expected; it really is an international community now, and I am glad I decided to use eBird to keep track of my big year.

Noah in the Yungas cloud forest in northwest Argentina.

Noah in the Yungas cloud forest in northwest Argentina.

So, onward! Eleven more months, and 4,282 more species to go… Daily updates are posted here: