Tag Archive | birding competition calgary

Prize Presentation – eBird Calgary 2015

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The highlight of the January Birds & Beers meeting was the presentation of the prizes for the eBird Calgary 2015 Birding Competition. Almost all of the winners were able to make it, and it was a lot of fun to reward the winners for their accomplishments. (All photos by Wayne Walker except where indicated.)

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Some of the birders at the January Birds & Beers. Fifty-three people attended.

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Dan Arndt and I presented the prizes. Preliminary remarks.

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 Ruth and Phil Ullman – 1st place, Yard Challenge, with 88 species.

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Lorrie and John Anderson – 2nd place, Yard Challenge, 61 species.

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Aidan Vidal – 1st place, Youth category, with 241 species, and 3rd place in Latecomer Challenge, with 46 species after August 1st, 2015.

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Ethan Denton, 2nd place, Youth category, 235 species, and 2nd place in the Latecomer Challenge, 49 species.

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Simone Pellerin-Wood, 3rd place, Youth Category, 175 species.

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Graeme Mudd, tied 1st place, Beginner category, 225 species.

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Brian Elder, 1st place, Experienced category, 275 species.

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Blake Weis (left) and Ray Woods (right), tied 2nd place, Experienced category, 257 species.

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Brian Elder also won the Big Day Challenge, with 153 species recorded on May 27, 2015.

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We also recognized Blake Weis’s incredible achievement of 638 complete eBird checklists submitted in 2015.

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George Best won for Bird of the Year. He found the Golden-winged Warbler in Griffith Woods Park.

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Bob, Dan, and the prize winners. Missing were Aphtin Perratt and Chris MacIntosh, who tied with Graeme Mudd for 1st in the Beginner category with 225 species, and Bernard Tremblay, who won the Latecomer Challenge with 52 species added after August 1st.

It was a lot of fun to get together and reward the winners, and to hear them talk about their birding year. Many of the competitors have told us that they really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot, whether discovering new birding locations, where to find particular species, patterns of bird movements, or using eBird as a tool and a resource. I hope we have helped some of the competitors to become better birders and to get involved in the local birding community. The use of eBird increased greatly in our region in 2015 and we hope to see this continue.

Many thanks to our sponsors who donated prizes or money for prizes: Nature Calgary, The Wild Bird Store, Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park, Burrcan Holdings, Phil Evans, Lynne Colborne, Richard Schulze, Lynn Wilsack, Susan Thierman, Phil Cram, and an anonymous donor.

Each winner received a framed photo certificate listing their accomplishment (each with a different photo). Here is a sample (photo by Bob Lefebvre):

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Each 1st-place winner in the Year List categories received a 24″ by 36″ canvas print of a bird photograph of their choice. The winner’s selections were not yet ready for the prize presentation. Four will be awarded: Youth winner Aidan Vidal, Experienced winner Brian Elder, and two for the three people tied as winners of the Beginner category – a shared one for Aphtin Perratt and Chris MacIntosh (a birding couple) and one for Graeme Mudd.

Other prizes awarded included 2016 Bird Photo calendars by Dan Arndt, copies of the book Looking For the Wild by Lyn Hancock (personally signed by Gus Yaki), vouchers good for one season of the Friends of Fish Creek birding course, and gift certificates of various amounts to be used at the Wild Bird Store or Robinson’s Camera.

Here is a list of the winners and their prizes:

CategoryWinnerSpeciesPrize 1Prize 2Prize 3
Latecomer -1Bernard Tremblay52$50 Robinson'sCalendar
Latecomer -2Ethan Denton49$25 Wild Bird Store
Latecomer -3Aidan Vidal46$25 Wild Bird Store
Yard -1Ruth & Phil Ullmann88Bird Feeder$75 Wild Bird StoreCalendar
Yard -2Lorrie & John Anderson61$75 Wild Bird StoreCalendar
Youth -1Aidan Vidal241Canvas PrintBook
Youth -2Ethan Denton235$75 Wild Bird StoreBook
Youth -3Simone Pellerin-Wood175$75 Wild Bird StoreBook
Beginner -1Aphtin Perratt & Chris MacIntosh225Canvas PrintBookFFCPP Course (X2)
Beginner -1Graeme Mudd225Canvas PrintBookFFCPP Course
Experienced -1Brian Elder275Canvas Print$50 Robinson's
Experienced -2Blake Weis257$75 Wild Bird Store
Experienced -2Ray Woods257$75 Wild Bird Store
Big DayBrian Elder153$50 Robinson's
Most ListsBlake Weis638 lists$50 Wild Bird Store
Bird of the YearGeorge BestGolden-winged Warbler$100 Robinson'sBook

At the end of the prize presentation, we all shared a cake supplied by Joan and Wayne Walker!

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Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the competition a success: Committee members Dan Arndt, Joan Walker, Wayne Walker, Rose Painter, Andrew Slater, Rob Worona, Kris Fernet, David Pugh; plus Andrew Hart, Linda Vaxvick and Sue Konopnicki at Nature Calgary. We also received a lot of feedback on our initial ideas from Yousif Attia, Marcel Gahbauer, and Ilya Povalyaev. Special thanks to Wayne Walker for booking the Horton Road Legion for the prize presentation and for taking the photographs. Joan, Wayne, Rose and Dan made sure we had everything ready for the presentation and arrived early to set it all up.

Thanks again to everyone who participated, who went out on field trips, and who attended Birds & Beers and Nature Calgary events. It made for a memorable birding year!

A final presentation about the competition will be given at the April meeting of Nature Calgary’s Bird Studies Group on Wednesday April 6th, at the U of C.

The next Birds & Beers event is next Friday, February 26, at the Horton Road Legion, 9202 Horton Road SW, starting at 6 pm. Come and join your fellow birders for food, drinks, and conversation!

Birds & Beers, January 2016

The Calgary chapter of Birds & Beers will hold their next event at the usual location, the Horton Road Legion, on Friday January 29 from 6 to 9 pm.

Birds & Beers is an informal social gathering in which you can meet other birders and talk about birding. If you wish, you can have a drink or a meal as well. Prices at the Legion are very reasonable and the food is excellent. Everyone is welcome, including children if accompanied by an adult.

This month, instead of a speaker, the 2015 Calgary Birding Competition will be awarding the prizes to the winners. Come out and show your appreciation for all the competitors.

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Golden-crowned Warbler, found and photographed by George Best during the competition.

Royal Canadian Legion, Centennial Calgary Branch #285

9202 Horton Road SW

Friday January 29, 6:00-9:00 pm

This is one block west of Macleod Trail, between Heritage Drive and Southland Drive. See you there!

 

Competition Update, October 31

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

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Rusty Blackbird, a hard-to-find autumn bird. Photo by Dan Arndt, October 25, 2015 at Lower Kananaskis Lake (outside the competition circle). ::Aperture: ƒ/8|Camera: PENTAX K-5|Focal length: 500mm|ISO: 1600|Shutter speed: 1/800s|

Leaders, 80-km circle:

Here are the top competitors listed with their species totals and categories (the “Not Eligible” competitors are on the organizing committee). Also included is the number of complete checklists they have submitted to eBird within the 80-km circle. This total does not include “incidental” sightings.

Using the arrows you can sort the columns to see all the participants in one category listed together, or sort by number of species, or number of checklists. You can also increase or decrease the number of lines shown.

80-km Circle, October 31
NameSpeciesChecklistsCategory
Brian Elder272126Experienced
Blake Weis 251534Experienced
Daniel Arndt250228Not Eligible
Ray Woods24971Experienced
Andrew Hart233241Not Eligible
Dan Parliament231165Experienced
George Best230198Experienced
John Thompson230248Experienced
Cindy Parliament 229137Experienced
BirdBoy Canada219151Youth
N Denton 217147Experienced
Andrew Slater216127Not Eligible
Aidan Vidal21663Youth
R Painter215282Not Eligible
Lorrie Anderson214392Experienced
John Anderson214397Experienced
Graeme Mudd214172Beginner
Aphtin Perratt21394Beginner
Bob Lefebvre211441Not Eligible
Chris Macintosh21192Beginner
Nicole Pellerin205165Beginner
Christopher Naugler20174Experienced
Phillip Cram20167Experienced
Linda Vaxvick199222Experienced
Judy Swan195161Experienced
Darlene Shymkiw193128Beginner
Trevor Churchill18781Experienced
John Bargman187124Experienced
Janet Gill17490Experienced
Simone Pellerin-Wood17393Youth
Peter Hoyer17267Experienced
Rob Worona17032Experienced
Anne Belton169100Experienced
Dave Russum167283Experienced
Jan Roseneder148262Experienced
Jeremy Quickfall14749Beginner
Joan Walker13114Experienced
Saravana Moorthy13071Beginner
Sue Konopnicki12754Experienced

 

If you are an eBird user you can view the current standings at any time. Go to eBird Canada and click the “Explore Data” tab. Click on “Patch Totals” and change the region to Alberta. Below your patches (if you have any) you will see a list of all patches in Alberta, which you can sort by day, month, or year. The competition competitors use the patch name “2015 Calgary Patch Challenge, CA-AB.”

Brian Elder’s Patch total of 272 species is the top patch in all of Canada. Eight of the to 20 patches in Canada belong to birders in the competition.

eBird Usage:

We continue to be among the leading regions in Canada in eBird submissions. Here are the top counties in Canada in number of checklists submitted for October 2015. (Calgary county is entirely within the competition circle, but the circle also includes parts of three other counties.)

eBird submissions by county, October 2015
Metro Vancouver6275
Camrose-Lloydminister3550
Ottawa1989
Capital1723
Cowichan Valley1517
Calgary878
Peterborough847
Toronto750
Nipissing684
Yukon679
Fraser-Fort George660
Montreal654
Essex619
Wellington612
Laval599
Halifax579
Avalon Peninsula - St. John's550
Hamilton520
Bruce493

 

With the winter birding season upon us, now is the time to get out and find the winter birds you missed in January and February. It’s a great chance to add new species for the those trying to win the Latecomer Challenge (most new species added after August 1). There are lots of winter finches around already so it promises to be a great end to the year.

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White-winged Crossbill. Photo by Tony LePrieur, Fish Creek Park, October 31. ::Aperture: ƒ/7.1|Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II|Focal length: 600mm|ISO: 2000|Shutter speed: 1/1000s|

Donate to the competition

Thank you to all who have generously donated money to be put towards prizes for the competitors. If you would like to support the goals of our competition, please go to Nature Calgary’s Competition page. There are instructions about how to make a contribution using their “Donate” page, and how to specify that your gift is for the competition. Nature Calgary is a registered charity. 100% of all gifts will be used to purchase prizes for participants.

 

Support the Birding Competition

The eBird Calgary 2015 Birding Competition is a year-long effort by local birders to see how many species they can find in the Calgary region. Over 100 birders registered to take part. The organizers have conducted many field trips and we have had some social get-togethers as well. You can read about the competition and the latest standings here.

It’s gratifying to see so many local birders explore our area and record their sightings in eBird. In doing so, they are contributing to the global database of knowledge about bird numbers and distribution, inspiring other local birders to get out in the field and involved in our local birding community, and raising awareness of the conservation issues that lie at the heart of why we do what we do.

We currently have prizes in place for the first-place finishers in the three experience categories, the Yard Challenge, the Latecomer Challenge, and the finder of the Bird of the Year. Thanks to all our sponsors: The Wild Bird Store, Nature Calgary, Burrcan Holdings, Phil Evans, the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society, and an anonymous donor.

We would like to be able to recognize more of our competitors, especially with some very close races and all the hard work these birders have done. It would be nice to be able to award prizes to our second-place and third-place finishers, and we would like to hold more small competitions over the last three months of the year. These would provide the incentives necessary to keep up interest through to the end of the year.

For this, we need your help. If you would like to support the goals of our competition, please go to Nature Calgary’s Competition page. There are instructions about how to make a contribution using their “Donate” page, and how to specify that your gift is for the competition. Nature Calgary is a registered charity. 100% of all gifts will be used to purchase prizes for participants.

 

Competition Update, October

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

As October begins we enter the final quarter of the eBird Calgary 2015 Competition. It will now be harder for the leaders to add new species to their lists, and for the other competitors to catch up.

Brian Elder continues to set a very impressive standard, with 270 species reported within the 80-km circle. I believe this is a record for the circle in a calendar year, and he still has three months to go. The highest previous total that I could find was 265. It will be very interesting to see how high he and the other top birders can go.

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Hooded Warbler – a rarity seen in Calgary on October 4, it would increase anyone’s species count by one! Photo by Dan Arndt

Blake Weis and Ray Woods are tied for second place behind Brian in the category of Experienced birders, at 249 species.

In the Beginner category we have a very close race, with Chris MacIntosh and Aphtin Perratt tied at 210 species, and Graeme Mudd right behind at 209.

In the Youth category Aidan Vidal leads with 216 species, and Ethan Denton (Birdboy Canada) at 212.

Latecomer Challenge: 

The winners of the next challenge will be the birders in each of the three experience categories who add the most new species to their lists from August 1 to the end of the year. This gives an incentive for those competitors who haven’t been out as much as they’d like, to go out more in that latter part of the year and see the species they missed earlier. It will be much easier to win this challenge if you haven’t birded much in the first half of the year and have a small list. The current leaders in each category will have a much harder time adding new species to their totals, since they have seen many of the species already.

Leaders:

Here are all the competitors listed with their species totals and categories (the “Not Eligible” competitors are on the organizing committee). Using the arrows you can sort the columns to see all the participants in one category listed together, or sort by number of species. You can also increase or decrease the number of lines shown.

80-km Circle Leaders, October 3, 2015

NameSpeciesCategory
Brian Elder270Experienced
Blake Weis249Experienced
Ray Woods249Experienced
Daniel Arndt243Not Eligible
Andrew Hart229Not Eligible
Dan Parliament228Experienced
John Thompson227Experienced
George Best225Experienced
Cindy Parliament131Experienced
Aidan Vidal216Youth
Andrew Slater213Not Eligible
Rose Painter212Not Eligible
Birdboy Canada212Youth
Neil Denton211Experienced
Chris Macintosh210Beginner
Aphtin Perratt210Beginner
Graeme Mudd209Beginner
John Anderson207Experienced
Lorrie Anderson207Experienced
Bob Lefebvre205Not Eligible
Nicole Pellerin205Beginner
Phillip Cram201Experienced
Christopher Naugler196Experienced
Linda Vaxvick195Experienced
Judy Swan193Experienced
Darlene Shymkiw186Beginner
John Bargman185Experienced
Trevor Churchill184Experienced
Simone Pellerin-Wood173Youth
Janet Gill171Experienced
Rob Worona169Experienced
Dave Russum164Experienced
Anne Belton163Experienced
Peter Hoyer158Experienced
Jan Roseneder147Experienced
Jeremy Quickfall139Beginner
Joan Walker131Not Eligible
Saravana Moorthy130Beginner
Sue Konopnicki124Experienced
Bernie Debolt89Experienced
Rachel Mackay86Beginner
Michael Rogers80Experienced
Tony LePrieur75Beginner
Byron Chu75Experienced
Bernard Tremblay72Experienced
Hannah Lilles61Youth
Robin Naugler48Youth
Brett Lybbert46Beginner
David Sim34Experienced
Lucianna Lybbert32Youth
Jarom Lybbert31Youth
Katrina Lybbert30Experienced
Gord Newel27Beginner
Angela Bell21Experienced
Lynn Wilsack20Beginner
Reginald Lybbert12Youth
David Archer11Beginner
Sylvia Checkley4Beginner
Jim Donohue1Experienced

 

We also have a Yard Challenge, in which participants report all the birds in their yards, or seen or heard from their yards, throughout the year. Of course the playing field here is not level as everyone’s yard is in a different location and habitat, and gets different birds. So it is more of a fun challenge, and a way for more people to get involved. Phil Ullman has a big lead in this category, and I don’t think anyone will catch him. It’s pretty impressive to see or hear 87 species of birds from your yard!

Yard Challenge Leaders, October 3, 2015

NameSpecies
Phil Ullman87
Bob Lefebvre (not eligible)53
John Bargman53
Judy Swan51
Lorrie Anderson51
John Anderson51
Dave Russum40
John Thompson37
Michael Rogers33
Brian Elder31
David Sim29
Rose Painter (not eligible)25
Nicole Pellerin23
Phillip Cram23
Linda Vaxvick22
Rachel Mackay21
Graeme Mudd20
Peter Hoyer18
Simone Pellerin-Wood18
Darlene Shymkiw18
Brett Lybbert11
Janet Gill11
Katrina Lybbert11
Lucianna Lybbert9
Saravana Moorthy9
Lynn Wilsack7
Andrew Hart7
George Best7
Zoe Keefe6
David Archer6
Anne Belton4
Jarom Lybbert3
Claude Benoit1
Hannah Lilles1

 

eBird Usage:

One of the main goals of the competition was to get more birders using eBird to record their sightings. We continue to have an impact in this. The Calgary county, which covers the bulk of the circle, has typically been in the top five counties in the country each month, in terms of number of eBird checklists submitted. In Alberta, Calgary’s 11,020 checklists submitted this year up to October 2 was 43% of the Alberta total of 25,569. We are really contributing to the knowledge of bird numbers and distribution in our area.

Patch Lists:

The 80-km circle is a Patch on eBird, and although it is very large for an eBird patch, it is nevertheless impressive that of all the patches listed for this year in Alberta, the top 41 all belong to birders in the competition (some of these are smaller patches like the Calgary city limits or the Weaselhead area). Half of the top 18 patches in Canada are also in our 80-km circle (including Brian Elder’s in top spot), and here we are competing against some other large areas and well-known birding hot-spots like Point Pelee.

Donate to the Competition:

It’s gratifying to see so many local birders explore our area and record their sightings in eBird. In doing so, they are contributing to the global database of knowledge about bird numbers and distribution, inspiring other local birders to get out in the field and involved in our local birding community, and raising awareness of the conservation issues that lie at the heart of why we do what do.

We currently have prizes in place for the first-place finishers in the three experience categories, the Yard Challenge, the Latecomer Challenge, and the finder of the Bird of the Year. Thanks to all our sponsors: The Wild Bird Store, Nature Calgary, Burrcan Holdings, Phil Evans, the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society, and an anonymous donor.

We would like to be able to recognize more of our competitors, especially with some very close races and all the hard work these birders have done. It would be nice to be able to award prizes to our second-place and third-place finishers, and we would like to hold more small competitions over the last three months of the year. These would provide the incentives necessary to keep up interest through to the end of the year.

For this, we need your help. If you would like to support the goals of our competition, please go to Nature Calgary’s Competition page. There are instructions about how to make a contribution using their “Donate” page, and how to specify that your gift is for the competition. Nature Calgary is a registered charity. 100% of all gifts will be used to purchase prizes for participants.

Birding Competition Update – March

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.

Youth

Aidan Vidal                       60 species
Simone Pellerin-Wood        57
Birdboy Canada                 48

Beginner Adult

Aphtin Perratt                   65
Nicole Pellerin                   63
Darlene Shymkiw              62

Experienced Adult

John Thompson                 90
Andrew Hart                      85 (not eligible for prizes)
Daniel Arndt                      84 (not eligible)
Blake Weis                        82
Brian Elder                        77
George Best                      74

Ebird Usage

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

January    101

February   103

March       128

2015 – Alberta

January    111

February   105

March       140

2014 – Calgary county

January     78

February    78

March       103

2015 – Calgary county

January     91

February   87

March       122

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 ebirdyyc@gmail.com. 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.

eBird: Setting Up Yard Lists

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

The previous post showed you how to set up an eBird Patch List, like the one to be used for the 2015 birding competition. This post will show how to set up an eBird Yard List. The previous post has lots of information that is relevant to this, so it’s a good idea to read it over: eBird: Setting Up Patch Lists.

To begin with, you must simply make some observations in or from your yard, and submit them to eBird. To be counted, birds must be seen or heard by the registered participant from within the residence or yard. This includes birds that are in your yard, as well as flyovers and birds heard while you are in the yard.

When specifying your yard location, you may want to protect your privacy by not placing the location marker exactly where you live. Pick a spot a few blocks away but in identical habitat. When naming the location, give it a descriptive name so you and others know it is a yard location, but don’t use your address. In the example below, I have brought up the map on eBird to specify a new location. Suppose I live where the blue marker is in the Ogden neighbourhood. I have placed a marker in a nearby location (the green teardrop marker), and just called it “Yard.” I have typed “Yard” under “Enter Location Name” on the right. I could have called it “Calgary Yard,” “Bob’s Yard,” or “Ogden Yard.”

Location 1

 

 

Location 2

 

Then you enter your observations for the location. I’ll assume you have done that, and your location is now part of your eBird.

To set up an official Yard List that will be included in the competition, go the the “Explore Data” tab on eBird. In the right-hand box under “Your Totals” click “Yard Totals.” This is how will see all the yard lists in your region.

 

Yard Lists 1

 

This will bring up your yard lists (you won’t have any yet) and the list of leaders for the region. Remember to set the region to Alberta since some yards in the competition will not be in Calgary county, and if you set it to Canada, there will be yards from all over the country listed. (Note that the yard listed under the current leaders with my name is not the yard list I have just set up, but my real yard list.)

 

My Yard Lists 2

 

Next, click the green “Add A Yard” button on the right side of the page. This will bring up the page below, which lists your saved birding locations.

 

Add a Yard 3

 

Type in your new yard name (for the competition, use “2015 Calgary Yard Challenge”). Then check off the appropriate location box to the left of your location names. Here, I have five locations listed. Just check ‘Yard” and then click the green “Save Yard” button at the bottom.

 

Add a Yard 4 Save

 

You should never have to edit your yard list again (until you move). The page below shows your yard totals at the top, with all the leaders in the region shown below. I have set it to show the month leaders (December 2014). This yard list has 10 species from one checklist submitted.

 

My Yard Lists 5

 

That’s it, your yard is set up! Now you can explore the data whenever you want. If you click on the “10” under your species total, it will show all your species reported:

 

Locarion Year List 6

 

Now if I enter another set of sightings from my yard location in Ogden, any new species will be added to this official Yard List. (You should report all the species you see when birding, even when there are no new species to add to your year or month list.) Below shows the Yard Lists page after I submitted another checklist. I now have 18 species for the month, second in the region. (The number of my checklists should say 2, not 1; this is just due to a delay in the system.)

 

Edit Yard List 8

 

Yard birding can be a lot of fun and is one of the easiest ways to bird almost every day. If you live within the 80-km circle, enter the competition and add your yard to the list!

Link to the eBird 2015 Competition page, with all the information you need to join.

eBird: Setting Up Patch Lists

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

For those of you who are participating in the eBird Calgary 2015 birding competition, and for anyone else interested in using eBird, here is how you set up your patch list. The next post will show how to set up your yard list.

These instructions for setting up a patch will apply to any patch you might want to have, to track all your sightings in an area. An example is to have a Fish Creek Provincial Park patch, which will include every location that you have birded within the park. For the competition, the patch we are competing in is an 80-km radius circle centred on the Centre Street bridge in Calgary. This is the Calgary May Species Count circle and the traditional “Calgary region” for local birders. Several eBird users have had this patch in their lists for years. During the competition year, participants will have to call this patch “2015 Calgary Patch Challenge,” which will enable the committee and other participants to easily see how everyone’s totals compare. The name can easily be changed afterwards and the patch retained.

Besides the competition to see who can find the most species in the 80-km circle, we are having a competition to see who can record the most species in their yard. Birders can compete in either or both of these. Like the patch challenge, participants must set up a “Yard List,” which is essentially a patch that consists of just one location, your yard. The yard list must be called “2015 Calgary Yard Challenge.” (It is not enough to just have a birding location at your yard that you submit observations from. Unless you set it up as an official Yard List, it will not appear in the list of all Yard Lists in the region.)

Here is a link to the eBird page that results from doing a search of their Help file for “patch.” There is a lot of good information there and I encourage you to read through it, but I think that following the instructions in this blog post will be the most straightforward way to get get your patches set up.

You only need to set up the patch list once, and all your past and future sightings will be included in the totals, broken down by month, year, and life. eBird keeps a record of all your birding locations, and which ones are in which patch or patches. (A location can be in more than one patch; for example, my Bebo Grove location is included in my Fish Creek Provincial Park patch, my Calgary City Limits patch, and my 2015 Calgary Patch Challenge patch.) The only thing you will have to remember is that any time you go birding at a new location that is within your patch, you will have to edit the patch or patches to add the new location to them. You don’t have to do this right away but you will want to check periodically to make sure that all your patches have the proper locations included. For the 80-km circle, you may need to refer to the map for locations near the edge to see if they are in or out. For the Yard List patch, you should never have to add locations to it since it will only have your yard location.

All of this will become clearer with some visual aids. First, you will need to have submitted some observations so there is at least one location stored in your eBird. Sign in to eBird. In this example, I have clicked on the “My eBird” tab at the top of the page. My information shows that I have submitted five checklist (one was from my yard, two others in the city, one on Grand Valley road north of Cochrane, and one in Red Deer).

My eBird 1

 

Next, to set up a patch, click on the “Explore Data” tab at the top. This will bring up the “View and Explore Data” page below. Now under the “Your Totals” box on the right, click on the “Patch Totals” link.

View and Explore 2

 

The “My Patch Lists” page below will appear. At first it will say you don’t have any patches, and below that, it will list all the patch leaders in the specified region (Canada in this example). Click on the green “Add a Patch” button on the right.

My Patch Lists 3

 

The “Add a Patch” page below appears. There is a spot to name your new patch, and below that, a list of all of your birding locations from all your sighting submissions. Type in “2015 Calgary Patch Challenge” for the name, as I have here, and then check the little boxes to the left of only those locations that will be included in your patch. In this example, all except the Red Deer location are within the 80-km circle. As you check them, they will appear in the right-hand list “Currently in your Patch.” When you’re done, click the green “Save Patch” button at the bottom.

Add a Patch 5 Save

You are done! Now the “2015 Calgary Patch Challenge” patch appears in your list, with 36 species recorded (see below). Note the “Edit” button on the right of the patch name; this will be used to add more locations to the patch in the future.

The list of all the top patches in the region is shown at the bottom of the page (the “Current Leaders”). I have changed the region to Alberta from Canada, and clicked the “Month” tab, and there is the patch I created, in third place. (If I left the region as Canada my patch would be much farther down the list. For this competition, it is best to use the Alberta region to view results. You can’t use the county, since our circle is not entirely within Calgary county.) You can now click on the Life or Year tabs to see where you stand there, or click on your species totals to see the actual species you reported.

Edit Patch List 7

 

For example, here is the list of the 36 species in my patch. It was produced when I clicked on the “36” in my Species Totals, Year column above.

Location Year List 7

 

That’s all you need to get started, but I’ll show you how to edit your patch to add more locations to it. Initially I had five lists from five different locations, but now I have submitted new observations from a new location, Votier’s Flats. Below I have clicked the “edit” button by my patch name. The Edit page shows all my locations, including the new one, on the left, and the locations that are currently in my patch on the right.

Edit Patch List 8

Simply check the box by the Votier’s Flats location, and it will appear in the list on the right. Then Save the patch again.

Edit Patch List 9

 

After saving the patch, it now has 42 species on six checklists and is in first place for the month, as shown below.

10

 

Now it should be a breeze to set up your Yard List so you can compete in that competition too. That will be covered in the next post.

(Note: the lists I used were for illustration purposes only and have since been deleted.)

Getting Started with eBird

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

I have heard before from more than one birder that though they would like to start using eBird, they don’t often see any really good birds. But eBird isn’t a place to report just the “good” birds, it is for reporting all bird species, and the numbers of each species. The data collected on the eBird site is of great use to scientists studying birds and their habitats. eBird is a resource used to monitor the health of bird populations, and the changing patterns of their distribution, by amassing a huge database of biodiversity records. This is a crucial resource for conservations who are trying to decide where our limited resources can best be put to use in helping birds, and in arguing for the preservation of critical habitats. The data comes from both professional and recreational birders.

IMG_4452 2

The familiar House Sparrow has undergone a rapid population decline over much of its range. Is this continuing, accelerating, or levelling off? Is it related to gains by other species? eBird can help to answer questions like these for this and many other species.

It is easy to sign up on the eBird site and get started contributing to this citizen science project. Most birders can contribute almost every day. If you watch birds in your yard, at work, or walking your dog, you can submit your observations and help fill in valuable information on the birding map. Just get in the habit of keeping track of these birds, even if it it is just for a half-hour a day. You need to note the date, the time you started birding, the duration, and, if you are travelling, approximately how far. Then you make a note of the bird species you identify, and how many of each.

Below is a notepad page from March 19, 2014. I used to keep a notepad in the kitchen to keep track of my yard birds, and added to it through the day as I watched them through the windows. (Now I use the BirdLog app on my smartphone, which I find is just as easy, and which submits the results directly to the eBird website. See this blog post, and also see the BirdLog site.) Occasionally I  will spend an extended time of a half-hour or more watching birds in the yard and record the duration, and that is a very useful list to submit to eBird (it is a Stationary count rather than a Travelling count). But usually when I am at home I just watch intermittently, and that is recorded on eBird as an Incidental count, since I may have missed something when I wasn’t watching. On my list below, the number for each species is the highest number I am sure of; in other words, the lowest number that could have accounted for all the sightings I had that day. For example, I recorded four Black-billed Magpies. Although I may have seen a magpie eight or ten times during the day, the highest number I saw at once was four. The other sightings could have been the same birds seen again.

IMG_0003

 

For House Sparrows, I initially saw eight. Later, I saw ten birds in the yard, so I added two. Still later, there were 26 at one time, so I added another 16 for a minimum count of 26. Note that I have recorded male or female for some of those birds for which that can be determined by sight (or hearing, if the birds are singing). This is also important information that can be recorded in eBird, but in this case it also helped to determine the number of birds. I saw a male Dark-eyed Junco, then a female later. The birds were not seen at the same time but must have been different individuals, so the total is two. For Northern Flickers, I made a note of the head markings, and thus deduced that there were at least four individuals, three males and one female, not one bird returning over and over.

Here is the eBird checklist that resulted when I submitted the above list:

———————————-

Location

Calgary – Yard, Calgary County, Alberta, CA
Date and Effort
Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:00 AM
Protocol:
Incidental
Party Size:
1
Observers:
Bob Lefebvre
Comments:
N/A
Species
11 species total
2
Canada Goose
1
Downy Woodpecker
Age & Sex
Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
Male 1
Female
Sex Unknown
4
Northern Flicker

1 drumming.

Age & Sex
Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
Male 3
Female 1
Sex Unknown
4
Black-billed Magpie
2
Black-capped Chickadee
1
American Robin
Age & Sex
Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
Male 1
Female
Sex Unknown
1
European Starling

Again appeared to have roosted overnight in the flicker nest box, emerging at 8:10 am.

1
White-throated Sparrow
Age & Sex
Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
Male
Female
Sex Unknown 1
2
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
Age & Sex
Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
Male 1
Female 1
Sex Unknown
3
House Finch
26
House Sparrow

Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify?

Yes

——————————-

Similarly, you could keep track  of the birds you see every day at your workplace, or nearby on your lunch break, or on your commute. If you go for daily walks with your dog, it would also be pretty easy to keep track of the birds you see. If you follow the same route or are in the same park every day, you will have one eBird location that you use over and over, and you will be able to monitor the changing patterns of bird populations through the seasons and the years, which is what eBird was designed to do.

I work outside, walking the same route over and over every day. Before getting the Birdlog app, I carried a notepad and stopped every block or two to update my list. I have found it to be pretty easy to keep track of what I see and hear (mostly hear, actually – I can’t track down every bird since I am working, but after a while you learn to recognize all the birds by voice, and keep track of where they are as you walk. It does take a little practice). You have to be careful not to double-count birds as they (and you) move around, but for most species that is straightforward. Birds like magpies that move around a lot can be tricky, but I think they tend to be under-counted anyway, since whenever a hawk enters the neighbourhood it is suddenly beset by dozens of magpies that you weren’t aware of. For eBird the rule of thumb is just to try to get an estimate that does not wildly over-count.

Here is the page of my notebook from my eight-kilometer walk on May 7, 2013 in St. Andrews Heights in northwest Calgary. On this list the totals are cumulative – I don’t add any ticks until I am sure I have seen more birds than before.

IMG

 

And below is the resulting eBird list:

———————————————–

Location

Calgary – St. Andrews Heights, Calgary County, Alberta, CA( Map )
Date and Effort
Tue May 07, 2013 10:15 AM
Protocol:
Traveling
Party Size:
1
Duration:
2 hour(s), 35 minute(s)
Distance:
8.0 kilometer(s)
Observers:
Bob Lefebvre
Comments:
N/A
Species
11 species total
2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
1
Northern Flicker
1
Merlin
Breeding Code
ON Confirmed–Occupied Nest
11
Black-billed Magpie
6
American Crow
4
Black-capped Chickadee
3
Red-breasted Nuthatch
3
American Robin
6
House Finch
6
Red Crossbill
50
House Sparrow
Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify?
Yes

————————————————

It may not seem like much when you are reporting less than a dozen species on these lists, and seeing pretty much the same birds every day for long stretches, but over time the bird species and numbers change with the seasons, and you sometimes find new and unexpected species as well. Although I will typically see about eight species in the winter and fifteen to twenty in the summer in my yard or in suburban neighbourhoods like St. Andrews Heights, the year totals and life totals for those locations are surprisingly high. From 2008-2014 I submitted 366 lists from St. Andrews Heights, and recorded 67 species. I have submitted 178 yard lists in 2014 and have 56 species. Since January 2012 I have 74 species on my yard list, on 468 checklists.

I hope and expect to see more and more birders using eBird to record their sightings in the future. It is easy to use, and a fun way to contribute to citizen science all year long.

For a brief description of what eBird is and how the data is used, see this article: About eBird

There is a lot of information about how to use the eBird site on its Help Page.

Here is an excellent tutorial on YouTube which describes how to submit observations:

 

 

Here is a much fuller introduction to eBird. The video is almost an hour long. The basics of submitting sightings begins just after the 34-minute mark.

 

 

I hope that gets you started!

Birding Competition Presentation

If you’d like to learn more about eBird Calgary 2015, the competition sponsored by Nature Calgary, please attend the Bird Study Group Speaker Series on Wednesday, December 3. The competition committee will present information about eBird, and the rules of the event. You will also be able to register in person to participate in this year-long activity.

In addition, Brian Elder will speak about how to get a good start on your winter birds list. This will be of interest to every local birder, whether you will be in the competition or not.

_MG_9498

Great Gray Owl. Find out where to go to look for these birds in the winter. Photo by Logan Gibson

Bird Study Group meetings are free and open to anyone. The doors open at 7:00 pm and the meeting starts at 7:30. It is held in Room 211 of the Biological Sciences Building at the University of Calgary.

Here is the Nature Calgary page which gives details of the location. Our Bird Study Group blog page also has information about the meetings.