Tuesday, March 30, 2010

eBird Site Survey at Monkey Run

For the past few months I have been taking part in the eBird Site Survey. The idea behind the survey is to repeatedly count birds from the same location in the same way. Whether you do this every day or every week, the concept is to simply try to go birding the same way from one location and enter your sightings into eBird. You can do this from your backyard, a local patch, really anywhere you want. Before I moved, I did this at a local place called Myers Point--locally good for shorebirds, ducks and other goodies.

I've been doing the site survey about 5 out of 7 days each week this year. I count birds for 30 minutes from our backyard at Monkey Run 15 minutes after sunrise. Of course, I also enter other checklists from here at other times of day but I try to make sure to do this each day. I know that I have seen A LOT more birds because I want to get up each day and really keep track of what's there. This morning I saw my 67th species for the year from our yard (a Tree Swallow), had our first singing Purple Finch and a lot of other small discoveries that help make birding so enjoyable.

The dynamics of migration quickly become evident as you spent time watching and recording what you see. You begin to understand when the local birds breed, when the intensity of their singing peaks, and when they quiet down to be inconspicuous around a nest with young. But perhaps the best thing about entering these into eBird is that we can begin to understand bird populations with this granularity across a vast spatial scale. Imagine not just your backyard or local patch, but thousands of backyards and birding sites sewn together across the landscape providing a real-time snapshot of living bird communities--all available to scientists with the click of a button. This is the concept of the eBird Site Survey.

If you haven't used eBird in a while, or even if you use it all the time, I encourage you to give the site survey a try. Even if you are only standing in your yard and recording birds for five minutes a day, I think you'll be surprised at what you see, how much you learn, and how much fun you have. The site survey is a great way to start using eBird too. You don't need to be an expert. This is something all of us can do. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll be happy to try to help.

Below is a link to more information on the site survey:

Here is my checklist from this morning--direct from eBird.

Location: 31 Monkey Run Road
Observation date: 3/30/10
Notes: WEATHER: Overcast. 34F. North wind 7 - 12 mph.
Number of species: 27

Canada Goose 2
Hooded Merganser 2 A pair flying close together low over trees to the south.
Herring Gull (American) 1
Mourning Dove 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 13 Up to 13 sitting up in the top of the conifers together at one time--it seemed as if there was one main group of 8 birds, a pair, and another group of 3.
American Crow 7
Tree Swallow 1 **NEW YARD BIRD. Single flyover fairly low over treetops. 67th species for the year.
Black-capped Chickadee 8
Tufted Titmouse 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Carolina Wren 2 Two singing.
American Robin 25 About 20 flyovers and 5 in trees or on ground.
European Starling 2
Cedar Waxwing 24 Perched along little creek to SE.
Fox Sparrow (Red) 2 One under feeders; the other singing.
Song Sparrow 6
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 10
Northern Cardinal 4
Common Grackle 1 Flyover
Brown-headed Cowbird 1 Flyover.
Purple Finch 1 One singing persistently to the south for about 10 minutes. I've had a couple flyovers this year, but this was the first Purple Finch that I've heard singing.
American Goldfinch 1 Flyover.

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Science Pipes Contest

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned on the eBird Tech Talk forum that we are continuing to open up the ability for people to interact with the eBird database. As some of our most passionate users, we are making a announcement of an eBird Science Pipes contest first at Chip Notes and in eBird Tech Talk. We invite you to participate in the first ever Science Pipes eBird contest. We've conjured up this contest as a way to introduce the eBird community to Science Pipes. "What's Science Pipes" you ask? It's a way for you to play with and visualize eBird data by creating a "pipe" that defines the visualization. Look for an official an announcement on eBird sometime next week, but in the meantime, find out more on the Science Pipes web page.