Migration Watch--The October Zeiss eBirder of the Month Challenge

By Team eBird October 2, 2014

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon, CA. Photograph by Brian L. Sullivan.

This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optic, focuses on migration birding. October is a spectacular month for migration around the world. At certain places, geography and weather conspire to concentrate migrants in huge numbers. While migration is most visible at these great concentration points, many birds move in a broad front across the interior of continents during October, and birders everywhere can do a great job of capturing this by entering their data into eBird. The idea behind this competition is to look for signs of visible migration at your favorite birding sites by conducting stationary counts of at least 1 hour duration, and recording all high flying migrants as ‘fly-overs’ on each checklist you submit. Each 1-hr+ stationary count will be entered into a pool of checklist submissions, from which the winning checklist will be drawn. So the more of these you do, the more likely you are to win. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month. Read on to find out more.

This contest is focused on ‘Stationary Counts’, where observers spend time birding from a single location and record all the birds they see and hear–think “big sits” or “hawk watches”. Make sure to choose the “Stationary Count” protocol as your observation type, and then spend at least 1 hour doing your count. Longer counts qualify as well. Many of the birds you see and hear will be local residents, and you can record these on your checklists as you normally would. But you’ll likely detect some high flying birds, maybe swallows, raptors, or waterfowl. You should record these birds as ‘fly overs’ using the “F-Flyover” breeding code that is available if you click the “Show details” button and then use the drop down list for “Breeding Codes” (see image below). Recording your fly over birds in this way will help analysts determine which birds are actually using the habitat you’re standing in, versus just flying over on migration. Good luck, and enjoy watching migration!

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Our November and December winners will be awarded to those who meet two long-term annual goals for eBird activity. These are:

November: Prize will be awarded to users who have submitted complete checklists from at least 75 distinct locations from 1 January – 30 November 2014. As with this March challenge, spreading out your eBird coverage is important to the success of eBird. Those who proactively find areas that are under-covered maximize the value of every complete checklist and every observation. Over the course of a year, submitting from 75 different locations should be possible even if you stay in your home county. Each person who has reached this goal will be entered once in this drawing.

December: Our December winner will be drawn from among those who have submitted 500 *complete* checklists or more between 1 January – 31 December 2014. Complete checklists are ones where you answer “yes” to “are you reporting all species”. Be sure you understand this! It is one of the most important aspects of eBird! These can be two checklists a day from your backyard or weekend blitzes of 10 checklists each. However you get to 500 total, we will enter everyone who reaches this goal in our drawing for the December prize.


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 and a selection of books from another great eBird sponsor, Princeton University Press.

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.”

Princeton University Press publishes many of the best books about birds and natural history, including the popular new “Warbler Guide” from Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. “We are delighted to be able to support the Cornell Lab’s innovative and ambitious range of programs in science and conservation,” says Robert Kirk at PUP. “The rapid expansion of eBird has had a major impact on our understanding of bird populations and movements in North America and beyond, and is a testament to the Lab’s commitment to game-changing citizen science.”

Find out more:

eBirder of the Month