Learn how to use eBird

eBird Essentials

What is eBird?

eBird  is a real-time, online checklist program that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds.  eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

eBird’s goal is to maximize the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers.  ​The observations of each participant join those of others in an international network of eBird users. eBird then shares these observations with a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. In time these data will become the foundation for a better understanding of bird distribution across the western hemisphere and beyond.

I personally use eBird to track and keep lists of the birds I’ve seen. When I’m traveling I use eBird to give me clues of which birds are in that area that I don’t see on and near Seabrook Island.

How can I learn to use eBird?

Cornell Labs has recently released eBird Essentials: A Free Introductory Course.  If you’re not already using eBird to track bird sightings and participate as a citizen scientist, their brand new eBird Essentials course will show you how.  It is a self-paced, free course designed to help you use the program, search for birds in your area, and explore case studies about how eBird is contributing to the scientific community and conservation efforts.

Is there someone locally that can help me use eBird?

Seabrook Island Birders will be offering a seminar in January on how to use eBird.  If you are interested in attending this seminar, register here.  The date and time will be scheduled once it is known who is interested and the best time for those who have registered.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

Photo by: Cerulean Warbler by Andrew Simon / Macaulay Library

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“My Patch”

My favorite birding magazine is BirdWatching which is published six times a year by Madavor Media, LLC.  One of the common contributors is Pete Dunne, an author who is described as “New Jersey Audubon’s ambassador at large.”  In the September/October issue, he has a piece entitled “My Patch.”  It is about a nearby spot where he can bird, when time is short, with some certainty of success.  I think Seabrook Island, as a SIBer’s ‘patch’, rather fits his definition.  Thus, I would like to share bits and pieces of this article from BirdWatching’s Vol. 32, Issue 5.

Pete describes his “new favorite spot” as being “a 13-minute drive from my door.”  “Why this particular location …..?  In a word, birds …. the volume of birds and the delicious proximity.”   “And yes, I love to spend the day birding Cape May, but that takes planning …… when I count up the minutes and the benefits, I find that I invest most of my birding time in my local patch.

“I’ll bet you have one too, and I hope, like mine, your patch is protected. Be a shame to wake up one morning and find a sign on your site ….. . All local natural areas are priceless, offering variable habitat for local wildlife and a focus for birders when good fortune knocks.  Make sure your local land planners appreciate the importance to this local Eden of yours.  You are your local patch’s greatest champion.  Be a vocal one.  And before interests compete, document, document, document.  Prove the importance of that local woodlot with breeding survey data, migration counts, and winter bird surveys.  Or team up ….. and organize an annual Earth Day bird outing for residents and local politicians.  Show them the special nature of your patch.”

Thanks, Pete.  Seabrook is our local patch! Substitute any of ‘North Beach’ or ‘Equestrian Center’ or ‘Garden/maintenance Area’ or ‘Jenkins Point’ for the woodlot mentioned in Pete’s paragraph.  Our Eden is at hand and its future is in our hands.

Submitted by:  George Haskins

Member sees rare Great Black Hawk in Maine

My name is Karen O’Brien and I am a member of Seabrook Island Birders.  I share my time between Seabrook and my home in Portland, Maine.  On December 3, I had the opportunity to see a rare Great Black Hawk.  I thought my friends on Seabrook may like to share my experience.  That Monday, I spent a very very special three hours in a large park in the middle of the city of Portland, ME watching, with at least 200 of our closest friends, a Great Black Hawk devouring as many squirrels as he could. He has never been sighted in the U.S. , so I’m told, living between Mexico and Argentina . I spoke with many people who had flown in from the Midwest and other parts of the country!!!    It was a thrill and privilege to look up and revel in the grace and beauty and sheer fortitude of this amazing vagrant.
An article in the Boston Globe provides more information.
The bird remains in the area so maybe some of you want to take a field trip to cold Maine for this rare experience.   It IS very cold and icy here with about 8 inches of snow
Submitted by: Karen O’Brien
Photo by: Andres Picon of the Boston Globe

Preventing Bird Collision with Glass Windows

We have so much natural beauty on Seabrook Island and, naturally, we want large unobstructed windows in our homes so that we are able to enjoy that beauty and our wildlife at all times. Unfortunately, these windows are a constant danger to the birds that we love seeing and have lured to our yards with feeders. So often our neighbors post on our social media sites about being heartsick when a bird dies after colliding into a window, and we all understand how sad that is to witness. 

A Black-and-white Warbler sits quietly and recovers after hitting a window. Photo by Laura Erickson via Birdshare

There are many suggestions on how to prevent birds from flying into your windows. Understandably, many of us do not want to give up our views by installing heavy draperies or applying sticky notes every two inches. If you are serious about finding alternatives, there are some less obtrusive solutions. Check out the link below for some ideas and also read the comments from other bird enthusiasts. Some people have had success by simply moving the location of their feeder or not cleaning their windows. Now, that’s a win-win! 

We really do have so many birds right outside our windows. Let’s do our part to keep them safe and abundant.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/why-birds-hit-windows-and-how-you-can-help-prevent-it/

Submitted by: Joleen Ardaiolo

Photo by Laura Erickson via Birdshare

Recent Sightings – Red-breasted Nuthatch!

This past weekend the weather was certainly not conducive to outdoor activities. At least it wasn’t cold, so I spent most of my day on my screened porch reading and keeping an eye on my bird feeders. There were naturally lots of Chickadees and Tufted Titmouse and occasionally Northern Cardinals, a Goldfinch, and a Red-bellied or Downy Woodpecker.

Rainy days do have their advantages though. Had I not been confined to this one corner at my home, I would not have seen the Red-breasted Nuthatch at my suet feeder. I saw a female several times on Sunday and a male on Monday. The female has the same prominent white eyebrows as the male, but her chest is pale unlike the rust color of the male.

Apparently, mine was not the only sighting this weekend, so put out your suet feeders and take advantage of these rainy days.

Male Red-breasted Nuthatch
Photo by Jim Reimer

-Submitted by Joleen Ardaiolo

Are There “Hunger Games” at Your Feeder?

I was recently talking to my neighbor and she told me that her hummingbird feeder had to come down because she was tired of the birds fighting over it. What? I thought that was just friendly hummingbird roughhousing! Apparently, this really is aggressive, “Get off my lawn!” type behavior. According to a recent Audubon article, Who Wins The Feeder War?, the hummingbirds need to feed regularly and this behavior has evolved to protect their food source. 

CBC Backyard – Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Charles Moore

This article has put watching my seed feeders in a whole new perspective. With data gathered from Project FeederWatch, a Cornell Lab researcher has found a “Hunger Games” type feeding hierarchy at the feeders. If you watch, you will notice the Chickadee waits for the larger Titmouse to leave the feeder. However, body size isn’t always the determining factor. The article shows some interesting matchups that we would definitely see here. For instance, the noticeably smaller Downy Woodpecker ranks higher because of his larger bill as compared to the Pileated Woodpecker. There’s no arguing with a larger weapon!

With so many birds on Seabrook Island, you should check out joining Project FeederWatch to add your stats to their research and witness the “Hunger Games” in your backyard.

European Starlings, Blue Jays, and Red-bellied Woodpecker. Photo: Carolyn Lehrke/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 Submitted by: Joleen Ardaiolo

It’s time to start Project Feederwatch!

Do you enjoy watching the birds in your backyard?  Whether you have feeders or not, you should consider becoming a citizen scientist by joining Project FeederWatch this winter.

What is Project FeederWatch?

Project FeederWatch lets you become the biologist of your own backyard. You identify the birds in your backyard or at your feeders and submit your observations to the Cornell Lab. You can count every week between November—April, or you can count only once all season—the time you spend is up to you! The easy online data entry lets you immediately see all of your counts and view colorful summaries and graphs. Anyone interested in birds can participate; you don’t have to be an expert. All you need is a comfortable chair, a window, and an interest in the birds in your neighborhood.

What has been the experience of some of my neighbors?

The Morr’s participated for the first time in 2017-2018.

  • It was a learning experience in bird identification.  The slower pace of watching them at the feeder often allowed them to observe various characteristics that made future identification easier.
  • It was fun noting the different species that appeared during different periods.
  • American Goldfinch were first seen last year on January 8 and the  high count was 2.  In the first weekend this year, 4 were seen
  • Looking back, it can be noted the American Robins were the highest number seen during one observation period.  They were only seen from mid-December through mid-January.
  • 19 different species were seen for the 2017-2018 season.  In the first two weeks of this season, 13 species have been observed.  Chipping Sparrows and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker were new species for them this year.

How do I participate?

Once you sign up you can immediately start collecting data at your feeders. Read the online instructions and use the printable tally sheets to collect your counts. In the meantime, you will be sent a research kit in the mail with your unique ID number; once you have your ID number you can enter your counts online. Kits take a few weeks to arrive, but don’t worry—it will be there soon, and you don’t need it to start collecting data.

What do I get when I register?

The cost to participate is $18 and you will receive:

  • FeederWatch Handbook & Instructions
  • Full-color poster of common feeder birds
  • Bird-Watching Days Calendar
  • The Project FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights
  • Digital access to Living Bird magazine

The first day to count birds for the 2018-19 FeederWatch season was Saturday, November 10, 2018 and the season runs through April 5, 2019.  There are already four SIB members who have joined Project Feederwatch for the 2018-2019 winter season.  Let us know if you already are signed up! We hope more members will consider joining! 

Let us know if you have any questions and go to the Project FeederWatch website to Join Now!

Submitted by:  Judy Morr

Photos by: Dean Morr