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2015 Utah Birders Challenge!

posted by Utah Birders at
on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 

It's that time of year again--we announce this years Utah Birders Challenge.  This year we decided to step away from challenges involving photos and instead focus our efforts this year on... EBIRD!  This year's challenge is a multi-faceted challenge with several different "challenges within challenges", or as we like to call it, eBird Inception. The actual challenge is quite simple and straightforward, but we've added in a few "bonus" challenges for extra points.  Unline in years past where there is 1 clear winner, this year anyone who completes all the tasks associated with the challenge is a winner--the question is, will anyone complete all the tasks to be a winner?

So right off the bat we can tell you there are 1000 possible points up for grabs if you complete all the challenges.  What do you get if you manage to reach that goal?  We're working on a prize package and reaching out to several local companies for donations for the winners.  Besides a small prize package you will also ge the limited edition 2015 Utah Birders Challenge Sticker--we will only print one for each person who reaches the goal so it will truly be limited.  You'll also get bragging rights.  This year anyone who competes can basically brag that they beat Jeff Bilsky since he might only manage a few points from his distant new home.  Let's jump right into the challenge!

This year we want you to submit 1 complete eBird checklist for a birding location in Utah every day of the year.  It can be any location; your home, your office, your drive, a lunch break birding sessions--whatever you can manage. It must be a traveling count or a stationary count and can be as short as 1 minute.  For every day you submit a checklist you will earn 1 point, for a total possible 365 points this year, just by submitting a checklist.

Now things get interesting.  We want you to try and submit 1 complete eBird checklist this year for every county in Utah during the calnedar year.  This means there might need to be a little planning to make this possible, given Utah's large size.  For each county you submit a complete checklist, you will recieve 3.45 points, for a possible 100 points if you were to submit a checklist for every county.

But hold on you can really tack on those points if you submit additional complete eBird checklists from every county this year.  After your initial checklist, you can submit up to 10 more checklists, from different locations, for an additional 10 bonus points per county.  So if you were to submit 11 checklists each form a different location in a county you would earn 13.45 points for that county--the inital 3.45 points for the 1st list, and an additional 10 points for each different location.  If you managed to get 10 for each county you would earn an additional 290 points for the year.

Now if you've done your math you know that 365 + 100 + 290 = 755.  This means there are an additional 245 points available to each participant.  The way to earn these is simple: 5 bonus points for each eBird birding hotspot write up submitted for the Utah Birding Spots page on Utahbirders.com (http://utahbirdingspots.blogspot.com/) for up to 49 locations.  We want to see if we can get a hot spot write up for every location by the end of the year, so we can have a complete guide to Utah Birding locations, with maps, photos, links to eBird lists, and the ability for users to comments and add information going forward. We have a small portion of these hot spots done, but have a listen of almost 1300 we need information for--and no one knows those places like the birders who go there.

If you want to work on the bonus points for locations, please contact us at utah.birders@gmail.com so we can set you up to do so, and make sure folks aren't double creating locations.


If you'd like to compete in this years challenge click below to sign up:


For anyone interested in a side challenge just for the fun of it we are challenign you all to do a NON HOME-COUNTY BIG YEAR.  The idea is simple. Do a county big year--in a county where you don't live!  SO if you live in Salt Lake County, choose another county and do a Big Year!

There are no points, no awards, just your own personal satisfaction, and a little good humored ribbing between other birders as you try to find as many birds as possible in a county you don't live in this year--if you happen to have homes in 2 counties--choose one of the other 27 available... :)


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Blogger Tim Avery said...

I'm going to work on a Utah County "biggish" year. What this means is I jsut want to break my previous best for this non-home county where luckily I work on a daily basis. As far as I can tell my best here was 159 in 2013 and 2011. I think this is certainly beatable given the kind of county big years that happen in Utah county where 240 and 250 are generally the goal. If I beat 159, and maybe even top 200 with my usual day to day birding I will be ecstatic!

January 6, 2015 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Brent K said...

Sounds like a tough challenge. I don't think I could ever win as I'm still pretty new to this game but I will probably sign up anyway. I need to motivation to use Ebird. I tried to use it more last year and had intentions of re-seeing all my Utah lifers so that I could have them recorded in Ebird and then utilize the alerts for new birds I haven't seen yet. (I'm resisting loading my historical stuff as it seemed like a pain)

However, I fizzled out pretty fast. Partially because it is fairly boring to continually enter the same birds for each observation. Did I really care enough to log that I saw another Mallard or Robin? Making a game out of it could make it a little less painful. We'll see :)

The other resistance point I have is that it generally takes me a few days to figure out what I'm seeing if it is a new bird to me and by the time I figure it out, I've forgotten the details of everything else. To rectify that, I'm going to try using a paper notebook to keep notes and then update Ebird off of that once I'm square on what I've seen.

Anyway, I feel like I'm outing myself to the internet now of being a bird nerd but there are worse things :)

Thanks for the great info and community vibe you provide.

January 6, 2015 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Suzi said...

I am getting close to that 1000 points. I only lack a few lists from Grand, San Juan and Emery county that I will hopefully get after Christmas. I have only 4 more ebird hotspot links as well. I do have to say it has been a tough challenge, but I love visiting all of the diverse counties in Utah. It is a wonderful place for birding, even if some days you can only manage to get a yard list!

December 22, 2015 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Suzi said...

I did it!!!! a ebird checklist every day in 2015, I visited all 29 counties and did 11 ebird lists for each county! I added 49 hotspot links submissions. It was a tough! Hard challenge but it was so much fun! I managed 254 Utah birds this year and kept my rank in the top 20 ebirders in Utah, that was fun! Thanks again for the challenge.

January 1, 2016 at 12:27 AM  

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