Update: Now also including Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess counties.
WHO: Any birder who wants to contribute to science and conservation and win prizes!
WHAT: A yearlong birding (or, eBirding) contest, with the goal of amassing species and complete checklists submitted to eBird.org, a free online bird sightings database and checklist program.
WHERE: Fourteen counties in southeastern NY: Queens, Kings, Richmond, New York, Bronx, Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester. Update: Now also including Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess counties.
WHEN: January 1 to December 31, 2011.
WHY: To get more birders involved with eBird and contribute valuable records to science, and to win prizes (see below)!
SIGNING UP: The only requirement is registration for a free account at eBird.org, an online bird sightings database and checklist program run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Participants will submit checklists of their bird observations using the data entry tools at eBird. The My eBird page, available to every registered user, summarizes one’s observations (and is also a great way to keep track of life/year/state/county lists, all automatically generated). eBird is NOT limited to southeast NY–it accepts data from locations worldwide–but the scope of this contest is only the fourteen southeastern NY counties in Kingbird Regions 9 and 10.
PROCEDURE AND GUIDELINES: eBird works by allowing birders to submit a checklist from a birding excursion, containing both species and number of individuals. See more information at eBird. Birds reported must fall under the ABA guidelines of “alive, wild and unrestrained.” We ask that any rare bird sightings be submitted to the New York State Avian Records Committee (NYSARC) in addition to eBird. Any unethical activity (e.g., submitting large numbers of blank checklists) is grounds for disqualification.
RANKING: eBird’s Top 100 feature, which generates a list of the top eBird users in a geographical area (for this contest, each of the fourteen counties), will be used. The Top 100 page ranks users by both number of species and number of complete checklists submitted to eBird. For this contest, a participant’s “score” will be the sum of both these rankings, with the goal of as low a score as possible. For example, a participant who ranks 3rd in species and 1st in checklists in a particular county will have a score of 4 (3 + 1) for that county. Hence, it is important to both submit many complete checklists and report many species (e.g., someone could rank 1st in number of species in a county but 10th in number of complete checklists, for a total score of 11–and therefore lose to the person in the previous example).
PRIZES: At the end of 2011, for each county, a first, second, and third place prize will be awarded (see Ranking, above). In addition, additional first, second and third prizes will be awarded for cumulative rankings across Kingbird Regions 9 and 10 (determined by summing a person’s species and checklists from every county).
In the event of a tie in the rankings, the higher species total will win out. If species totals are tied, then the higher checklist total will. In the unlikely situation that both numbers are tied, the eBirder who most recently added a new species to his or her list will win.
- First prize is a 2-year subscription to The Birds of North America Online (BNA; $75). See description below.
- Second prize is a 1-year subscription to BNA ($42).
- Third prize is a copy of the Voices of North American Owls CD ($29). See description below.
Again, three prizes will be given out for each of fourteen counties, plus six cumulative prizes across the two Kingbird Regions.
The Birds of North America Online:
“In two centuries of American ornithology, The Birds of North America (BNA) is only the fourth comprehensive reference covering the life histories of North America’s breeding birds. Following in the footsteps of Wilson, Audubon, and Bent, BNA provides a quantum leap in information beyond what those historic figures were able to assemble.”
Voices of North American Owls:
“On this 2–CD audio guide you’ll hear nearly 200 tracks featuring the hoots, screams, chitters, squawks, squeals, bill claps and barks of 19 regularly occurring species of North American owls and two rarities–the most comprehensive guide to owl vocalizations available.
Owls have a rich repertoire of sounds for communicating in the dark. A 56-page booklet with full-color images describes the wide variety of vocalizations made by each species. It will help birders identify these denizens of the night–from the ghostly Barn Owl, to the tiny Elf Owl, to the familiar Great Horned Owl. You’ll gain a greater appreciation for owls and their sounds and behaviors.“