One-a-Day eBird Challenge – How are you doing?

Robert introduced the One-a-Day eBird Challenge a year or two ago. Since then, I have made submitting an eBird checklist a top priority each day. I submit checklists from my yard, gas stations, grocery store parking lots, state parks, etc. You get the point, right? It’s not hard to submit one checklist each day, especially with BirdLog for iOS and Android. BirdLog is a necessity and should be on every birder’s smartphone. Check out Robert’s review of BirdLog here.

Continue reading here…

BirdsEye Hotspots App – Get it!

I’ve been beta testing BirdsEye Hotspots for iOS, a co-produced app by BirdsEye Birding and Nemesis Code, for a few weeks now. I use it multiple times a day when I’m birding. It comes in handy when I’m not entirely sure where a birding hotspot is located or when I want to bird somewhere new. The app is essential for a fun-filled, smooth day of birding! (P.S. This will be crucial for navigating to spots during a Big Day.)








BIRDSEYE HOTSPOTS: Worldwide hotspot finding

BirdsEye Hotspots is a simple tool for birders. It makes it quick and easy to find nearby hotspots so you can quickly get there and start birding!

  • County listers rejoice! Always know which county you are in and which county your hotspots are in.
  • Get driving, walking and transit directions to any hotspot worldwide in your favorite apps. Hotspots currently works with many of the popular map and navigation apps.
  • Link directly to the new BirdsEye apps to view local abundance charts of the birds found at each hotspot. (requires BirdsEye NA or any of the other regional BirdsEye apps)
  • One tap button to copy the latitude and longitude of a hotspot or your current location to quickly share with others.
  • Local weather data – you need to know what the conditions will be when searching for your next birding spot. That spot that is excellent in sunny conditions can be brutal when its stormy while rainy weather can prompt you to head to nearby lakes to look for waterfowl.
  • Sunrise and sunset times so you always know how much more daylight you have to twitch that rarity.
  • World wide access to eBird hotspots

Note: Requires WiFi or data connection to access hotspot data.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Every birder should own this app. For $4.99 you can’t beat it!

Get the app here!

The NEW BirdsEye!

We use BirdsEye, a lot. Well, you can say we are addicts. The old BirdsEye is awesome and the NEW BirdsEye looks to blow it out of the water. Here’s why:

“To address these problems we have embarked on a ground-up rebuild of BirdsEye and are adding some cool new features in the process. In this first version the new BirdsEye already provides some useful new features not in the original, including:

  • import eBird life and year lists for any country, state or county
  • display local abundance charts for all nearby birds based on a radius that you select from 1 to 50 miles
  • see which of the local birds are “needs” (i.e. they aren’t already on your list)
  • provide regional versions covering much of the world
  • you can change the naming convention for birds from a large number of eBird naming options including US, UK and Australian English, Scientific, Spanish and French

The latest version of the New BirdsEye NA and regional versions are now roughly on par with the Original BirdsEye, although there are pros and cons. The latest update of BirdsEye NA in the App Store includes the ability to browse Hotspots and see recent “Notable” sightings near you.

We have not made a final decision on how to roll it out to existing BirdsEye users. The issues here are somewhat complex. First, it isn’t ready yet. Second, it will never be identical, and some people love the original just like it is, so we think many people will not want to change. Third, the model of selling apps is probably not sustainable for us in this niche market of high-end birding apps. We cannot afford to improve and support our app as much as we need to, despite relying mostly on low-paid and/or volunteer labor. At some point I believe that we need to transition to a subscription approach and the rollout of the new BirdsEye may be the right time to do that.  

We want to roll it out for Android when we have sufficient financial support to do that.  Supporting Android is likely to be unprofitable, but it is important for our mission of promoting eBird, especially among younger users and birders outside of the US.”

All information used with permission from the BirdsEye Birding Team

I mapped my eBird history. You should too!

Zachary DeBruine of Birdventure Birding and Jared Fischer of Birding Maps & Tools developed a new tool for mapping personal eBird history. You do eBird, right? The basic idea is to map every location you’ve submitted an eBird checklist for. It’s a really fun and neat way to see where you have eBirded! If you are an eBird freak, like me, then you’ll really get a kick out of this. Here is my eBird history:

If you’re interested in mapping your eBird history, take a look at Zachary’s post here and Jared’s post here. If you decide to map your eBird history, post a link to your map in the comments!

Remember to try and submit at least, AT LEAST, one eBird checklist per day!

A Snowstorm Rough-legged Hawk

On the long, stormy trek from Rochester Mills, Pennsylvania back to Newark, Delaware yesterday I made a quick stop near State College to look for a hit-or-miss Rough-legged Hawk along Wagner Rd. A severe winter storm was lingering over the area at the time did not provide the best viewing or driving conditions.

The fields and hedgerows along Wagner Rd. and this portion of Rt. 322 provide requisite habitat for wintering Rough-legged Hawks. This particular Rough-legged Hawk has an extensive area to hunt, so I did not have high hopes of seeing the bird especially with the limited visibility. I pulled onto Wagner Rd. and immediately started scanning the fields east of the road to find a Rough-legged Hawk hovering above an old hay field. The bird flew to an old fence post to perch allowing for this alluring photograph:

Rough-legged Hawk along Wagner Rd. near State College, PA on 26 December 2012. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

In the winter, Rough-legged Hawks are littered across most of the ABA Area, but highly concentrated in the Midwest and interior Northwest. Numerous Rough-legged Hawks can be found throughout Pennsylvania each winter and Nate and I have had the chance to see spectacular individuals on several occasions, a beautiful light morph in Lycoming County and a gorgeous dark morph in Centre County.

The frequency of checklists submitted containing Rough-legged Hawk observations has increased exponentially since the beginning of October.

Frequency of Checklists reported containing Rough-legged Hawks for October to December 2012. Credit: eBird.

The photo was taken with the Phone Skope Camera app that can be found in the Google Play Store. Be sure to check out Phone Skope on their website, Facebook, and Twitter!

Requesting eBird Data

Original Post on eBird: New eBird Data Access Tools Available

eBird Data is now easier than ever to get your hands on, that is if you are using the data for science or research. This is a valuable tool for ornithologists, avian ecologists, scientists, and researchers. I am specifically interested in using the data to possibly ground truth Migration Predictions.

From eBird:

“eBird data are freely available for science and research use, but it is important that we keep track of how these data are being used and in what kinds of research, so that we can serve everyone better and better document the importance of the eBird database. The new data request and access tools make this process easier through automation, and enable scientists and researchers to access data easily and efficiently.”

If interested, here’s the process to request data starting from the eBird home page. Clicking on the images will take you to that point in the process.

From the home page, click Explore Data.

On the Explore Data page, select the Download Data option (it’s at the bottom of the page).

That will direct you to the Avian Knowledge Base website, then choose Download Data.

That will direct you to the Request Download Access page where you enter your project information and abstract.

eBird data has been used in the past by Team eBird to produce these cool Occurrence Maps!

Why should you eBird?

“If you use the eBird web site to enter all your birding information—and get your friends, family members, students, and colleagues to use it as well—before long the answers to the never ending questions about birds will be found in the eBird database, for use now and for generations that will follow.”

Type 2 Red Crossbill in Bucks County, PA

While observing the Allen’s Hummingbird in Babe Webster’s Yard last Thursday, Thanksgiving, I watched and recorded a Red Crossbill call from the tops of different trees throughout the yard. The bird was a lifer for me as I’ve only heard them flying over the Cape Henlopen SP Hawk Watch back at the end of September. I was able to record call as I was taking a video of the Allen’s and the crossbill. Here’s the video:

I sent the video to Matt Young of Cornell, who confirmed the bird as a Type 2 Red Crossbill. Matt is studying Red Crossbills and published an article on eBird earlier this fall. Also, links to more of his publications can be seen over at the ABA Blog. Here’s what Matt had to say about the bird and the spectrogram he sent me:

“Nice find, a Type 2. There have been a few type 2’s in Massachusetts, but no others in the Northeast. Type 2 have been steadily moving eastward though out over the Plains. In the past month I have them confirmed from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois.”

Type 2 Red Crossbill, Spectrogram from Matt Young

Type 2 Red Crossbills reported to eBird since August 2012.

Matt was discussing the sighting with Doug Gross ,from the PA Game Commission, and it could be the first documented record of a Type 2 Red Crossbill for Pennsylvania!

Type 2 Red Crossbills have been documented to breed across the country, but are more dense in the western portion. Here’s more on the geographic range (source: American Museum of Natural History):

“In the East, breeding by this form has been documented in the southern Appalachian mountains, the state of New York, and the upper peninsula of Michigan. Breeding may also extend to the pine barrens of New Jersey and other coniferous forests along the Atlantic coast. In the Rocky Mountain west, this form is relatively common in conifer forests at all elevations, including foothill areas where other forms are less frequent. In the Pacific Northwest, this crossbill is found mainly on the drier east side of the Cascades, but it also occurs along the Pacific coast of Oregon and California (including San Francisco’s Presidio and Golden Gate Park). It is perhaps the most common crossbill in the Sierra Nevada and other California ranges, as well as the Mogollon Rim of Arizona and various mountains of New Mexico. Type 2 birds are probably frequent in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Occasional crossbills in southern pine forests, from east Texas and Mississippi to the Carolinas, are likely to be of this form.”

Make sure to send any Red Crossbill recordings to Matt Young to confirm the bird or birds to “Type.” After confirmation, enter your sightings to “Type” in eBird! Recordings can be sent to may6 A cornell DOT edu.

Curious about what the other winter finches are up to? Check out the Status of Winter Finch Irruptions in the Northeast!

The video was taken with a Samsung Stratosphere on a Vortex Skyline 80 Spotting Scope using the Phone Skope Universal Adapter set up.

Phone Skope makes custom adapters for any smartphone and spotting scope combination. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.