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a blog by and for Utah Birders

A Competition for Utah Birders

posted by Ryan O'Donnell at
on Friday, January 13, 2012 

The birders of Cache County and the Bridgerland Audubon Society hereby challenge the rest of the state to a competition: We bet that we can find more bird species in Cache County than you can in your county in 2012.  Here are the terms of the challenge:

1. eBird is the scorekeeper.  Only observations entered into eBird count towards the challenge.  (This facilitates scorekeeping and encourages birders to use eBird to log their birding.)

2. All eBird observations for the county are included, regardless of who the observer was.  (If you want to win, it will help to encourage other people in your home county to use eBird!)

3. In order to ensure fair standards for counting rare species, at least one observation of any species on the state review list must be either accepted by the state Bird Records Committee or thoroughly and unambiguously documented (photographs, audio recordings, detailed written description) in an eBird checklist.

4. Some counties have more birds or more birders than others.  In order to make the competition as fair as possible, the winning county will be the one that has the highest percentage of its lifetime eBird list (1900-2011) detected in 2012.  For example, if at the end of the year Utah County has documented 260 species, and Washington County has documented 262, Utah County would be the winner because that is a higher percentage of their 309 species so far (84%) than it is for Washington County (76% of their 345 species).  Under-birded counties have a distinct advantage here: for example, I think it would be easy for Piute County to top their 158 species so far in eBird! Also note that there is no handicap for the number of eBird users: the more people in your home county who use eBird this year, the more likely your county is to win!  

5. The prize:  In addition to bragging rights, registered birders in the winning county get a free guided day of birding by the registered birders in each of the losing counties.  Date will be at the losers' discretion, but must be offered sometime between the first of January and the end of March, 2013.  (Note that if you register, you are committing to help lead a trip if your county loses!  You don't have to be an excellent birder to help lead the trip - just help the other birders registered in your county show the winners around some of your favorite local birding spots.)  As a bonus, the Cache County Birders may be assembling some kind of trophy for the winning county . . . stay tuned for details.

6. In order to be eligible for the prize, individual birders must register for the contest before the end of January, 2012.  If you don't register, you can still help your home county win by submitting your observations to eBird, but you won't be eligible to go on the trips if your county wins.  Only counties with at least one registered birder are eligible to win.  (Email me, Tsirtalis_at_hotmail.com, with your name and home county to register.)

This challenge is designed with these goals in mind: 1) to be fun!,  2) to encourage more birders to enter data into eBird, especially by residents of Utah's under-birded counties (it'll be easier for you to win!), 3) to encourage birders to document their rare sightings with the Utah Bird Records Committee for archival record keeping of the rarest observations, and 4) to create a fun social event next year where birders from around the state can show off the hotspots of their home county to the birders of the winning county.  Will you take the challenge?!

Some of the Birders of Cache County and the Bridgerland Audubon Society:
Ryan O'Donnell
Craig Fosdick
Connie McManus
Robert Schmidt
Mike Taylor
Leah Waldner

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