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2012 Birding Goals... Use eBird More

posted by Tim Avery at
on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 

I’m a little late at getting this up, but what can I say it’s been a busy first week and a half of 2012.  Every year I usually have a handful of birding goals or “resolutions” for the coming 12 months.  Some years I have had as many as 10 or 12, other years just 1 or 2.  This year will fall into the latter category.  Every year one of my goals is to see a few new species of birds in Utah--typically I try to get to a benchmark, a 0 or a 5.  I started 2011 with 389 species on my Utah Life List and had hoped to reach 395 species by years end.  I added 4 species falling a few short of my goal.  But what can you do?  So this year I set the lofty goal of reaching 400 species on my Utah Life List--needing to add 7 new species of bird for me.  Okay, make that 6--on January 2nd I finally twitched to southern Utah and added WHITE-TAILED KITE to my list.  My North American nemesis bird and an admirable Utah foe was finally seen--and enjoyed.

My North American and Utah Lifer White-tailed Kite

My second goal, is to enter an average of at least 2 eBird checklists every day.  That would be 724 checklists this year. I’m already off to a good start with 27 checklists in 11 days and think that 2 a day shouldn’t be all that difficult.  It really is just a matter of taking the time to do it.  I think this is a goal that almost everyone can take a stab at.  The easy way for me to do this would be one yard list and one list form my office each day of the week.  Trying to put together 4 lists every weekend shouldn’t be bad either.  The data that is gathered through these checklists is not only invaluable for the data pool, but it is interesting to be able to look and say, thus far in 2012 I have entered 6 HARLAN’S HAWKS (like the one below) into eBird in Utah:

A stunning Harlan's Hawk in Lehi, Utah

Those really are my only two goals for this year.  I would love to go birding out of country somewhere again, and hopefully I will end up doing that.  And of course I always want to take better and better photos.  But the real goals are the two I set above.

I’d like to challenge every one to make the use of eBird one of their personal goals for 2012.  Entering at least 1 checklist a day would be something that is not only reasonable for everyone but not all that difficult.  If you haven’t started yet, you only have to make up a few days worth of checklists--if you are already doing so then right on--and good luck!

Besides that, what are some of your personal birding goals for this year--I’d love to hear what others have planned?

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Anonymous Drew said...

Great goal!

January 11, 2012 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Alex Lamoreaux said...

I am also trying to enter as many checklists per day as possible - up to 96 checklists entered so far this year, totaling 159 species.

I also want to try to add more details for species that I had to 'add' to a checklist, since eBird has requested recently that we should be submitting 1-3 sentences for those species that come up as 'excellent observations'.

I would also like to focus on trying to add more species to my Centre County, PA life list.

January 11, 2012 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Robert Mortensen said...

I love the encouragement for eBird related goals. Mine will be to average entering at least one checklist per day. I'm ahead of schedule so far.

I contemplated doing a Davis County Big Year this year, but activities in my personal life and new responsibilities at work have given me an extra crunch on my free time, so I have delayed any type of Big Year endeavors until the future. Who knows, I may have to wait until my kids are grown and out of the house in 14 or so years.

January 11, 2012 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Shyloh Monster said...

My birding goals this year are pretty much the same. At least one eBird entry per day. Simple enough. The more data entered, the better for us all! It's a great community project and I keep finding new benefits all the time. eBird is a remarkable and invaluable tool.

I dunno if this is a goal or a dream, but I'd really like to add 100 new lifers in 2012. So far, I'm at 0. Having finished 2011 with the most Davis County birds, I'd like to top the all time list. (At least on eBird.) BUT, these are all listing goals. That's really a side project to birding and more of an exercise for us obsessive types. I gain a lot of personal insight from birds and utilize their value to my soul. I wish to keep that sense of wonder alive. That's my fundamental resolution: To have more bird experiences that cannot be put into words other than, "whoah" and "wow".

January 11, 2012 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

@Alex: Damn! 9 Checklists a day is quite the pace. I may have to up my game.

@Robert: I say go for it. Davis County isn't all that big, and just doing your normal birding around the county can always lead to a pretty good year list. Who cares how big it is in the end as long as you have a good time doing it!

@Shyloh: Bird on my friend. You'll have another great year.

On a side note I happened to be in eBird at lunch entering a couple checklists when I noticed my Utah life list sitting at 396. It should be at 395 (I have Bar-headed Goose on there but don't count it in my official numbers). So I clicked through and was shocked to see Lark Bunting newly added to my list the same day as the Kite. But I have see hundreds of them in Utah during the last big irruption in 2004. This was also before eBird had gained mass popularity, and was an oversight on my part! Woohoo, I only need to find 5 more Utah Lifers this year now!

January 11, 2012 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Brian Sullivan said...

Tim et al.

It's great to see this interest in eBird developing more broadly among Utah birders. I'm looking forward to a visit this fall where I can give a program about eBird and all the things it can do for you as a birder, and all the things your data are doing for science. Thanks for taking the time to participate and make a difference.

There is a news item up on eBird now that shows county-level checklist submission to eBird that Utah birders might find interesting. It's not a surprise that most checklists come from the Salt Lake area. But there are many corners of the state where we really lack data, and getting out to these more remote counties can be really helpful for our ability to accurately model bird populations. Take a look at the news item here, and see what you can do to fill the 'gaps'.




January 31, 2012 at 2:32 PM  

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