This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, encourages you to get out birding every day in one of the least-eBirded months of the year. The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 31 eligible checklists during August. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month. August is an interesting time in much of the world, when the boreal breeding season is ending and spring is beginning to think about returning to the southern reaches of our planet. Many birds are wandering from their normal habitats, and there’s a lot for us to learn about where and when birds occur. Shorebird migration is in full swing across the northern hemisphere and many passerines begin their migration in August too. Let’s get out and see what we can find in August!
One of the most interesting phenomena of August, yet something that often goes undetected, is post-breeding dispersal. You may have seen us write about post-breeding dispersal before, but that’s because it’s so cool! Many species that are habitat-specific in the breeding season become more generalist, moving out to areas that they wouldn’t normally occur in during the breeding season. For a great example of this, check out this Indigo Bunting STEM map.
During the breeding season, you’ll see that that many of the major metropolitan areas in the eastern United States appear as darker: fewer buntings breeding there. However, as July and August roll around, these dark patches disappear, as the buntings move across the landscape after breeding. These fine-scale population shifts are detectable thanks to your eBird checklists. Learn more about the Indigo Bunting STEM map here.
These subtle movements can be really important to document, as the use of these additional habitats after the breeding season can be critically important for conservation. If you have a forest-breeding bird, conserving the forest will help during that season, but what if the majority of the population relies on a specific type of scrubby habitat for young juveniles and molting adults? Understanding the full annual cycle and habitat use of a species is essential for most effective conservation. Your checklists this August, wherever you are in the world, will help make a difference in our shared understanding.
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: