Posted by Bob Lefebvre
The first of the mini-competitions within the eBird Calgary 2015 Competition was to find the most species within the circle in the first three months of the year. With just a few days to go there are some close races. As more spring migrants arrive every day, there is still time to find more species.
Here are the leaders in the three categories as of March 28. In the Experienced category, note that Daniel Arndt and Andrew Hart are not eligible for prizes – Daniel is a member of the organizing committee, and Andrew is President of Nature Calgary.
Aidan Vidal 60 species
Simone Pellerin-Wood 57
Birdboy Canada 48
Aphtin Perratt 65
Nicole Pellerin 63
Darlene Shymkiw 62
John Thompson 90
Andrew Hart 85 (not eligible for prizes)
Daniel Arndt 84 (not eligible)
Blake Weis 82
Brian Elder 77
George Best 74
One of our goals for the competition was to greatly increase the use of eBird by local birders. The number of checklist submissions for the first three months of the year is way up over last year, and we hope to see an even bigger increase in the coming months. Note that the competition area includes all of Calgary county, plus parts of three other counties, so I have compared numbers for Calgary and for all of Alberta to get an idea of the increased usage of eBird.
Number of eBird checklists submitted, January to March:
2014 Alberta – 4,996
2015 Alberta – 6,498
2014 Calgary county – 1,919
2015 Calgary county – 3,484
To a close approximation, the entire increase in eBird usage in Alberta (up 30%) comes from the increase in Calgary county reports.
The number of bird species reported is also way up. This probably is mostly due to the milder conditions and an increase in overwintering birds this year, and perhaps some earlier spring arrivals than last year. Nevertheless, as more birders get out and use eBird, we do get a more complete picture of all the species in our province and local area.
Number of species reported by month:
2014 – Alberta
2015 – Alberta
2014 – Calgary county
2015 – Calgary county
There have been a total of 1,216,532 individual birds reported in Alberta so far in 2015 (752,772 in Calgary county). That’s a lot of data in the eBird database!
As of today we have an even 100 participants in the competition, with a few days still to go until the March 31 deadline (13 Youth, 23 Beginner Adult, 64 Experienced Adult). If you or anyone you know wants to join, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d really like to increase the number of youths and beginners involved. There is no set time commitment, and even if you only get out a few times in the year, it helps to contribute to our knowledge of local birds, and of course it is good for you too! Don’t worry too much if you’ve missed out on the first part of the competition; you can still get all the winter species next November and December.
In the next few days we will announce the April Birds & Beers event, at which we will award the prizes for the first mini-competition. We are planning some regular field trips to target some of the difficult-to-find birds in the circle, and later in the spring, a Big Day field trip to see how many species we can find in the circle in one day. In the meantime there is a full slate of Nature Calgary field trips that you can participate in, and the Friends of Fish Creek are taking registrations for the 12-week Spring Birding Course, which starts on March 30.