With the turn of a calendar often comes new and renewed activities. Personally, I’m going to make an effort to renew my attention to this blog. I really enjoy thinking and conversing about bird migration, distribution, and phenology, but there are few internet forums for that (even North American Birds doesn’t have letters to the editor). If I’m able to stay active, I may try to return to spring migration forecasts.
As many know, I’m an eBird evangelist. eBird has really changed birding, but the acceptance of its use has been slower in Rhode Island than in other New England states. Rhode Island is not one of those states where you might have to look on eBird for rare bird sightings before you see them on the list-servs. Or at least not yet. Thankfully, the adoption rate of eBird in the state has seen a steady growth over the past few years and hopefully we can continue this growth. The following chart stacks the past six years of checklist totals by week on top of each other. Year after year the bands have gotten bigger and 2012 (in orange) was an exceptional boom in checklists submitted.
So far in 2013 we’re doing pretty well, staying just ahead of 2012 and well ahead of the 2008-2012 median (see below). However, 2013 is not turning out to be the large leap that 2012 was. I suspect that the large increase from 2011 was the result of the now popular BirdLog smartphone app, which has been put into use by the population of birders who are most likely to use it. The next group of birders we need to tackle in Rhode Island are those who aren’t eBirding at all. The hurdles to incentivizing participation beyond the existing listing, community, and altruistic aspects of eBird are going to be a bit more difficult as they have more to do with generational differences, technology, and the constant and varied demands on our time as birders (and people too).
Ideally, sampling throughout the year would be relatively consistent, lacking both the big peaks and valleys we currently experience with sampling effort. We have spikes as a result of popular birding times (first big spring pushes, fall migration, and CBCs) and dips due to unpopular times to go birding, such as the heat of summer. Keep an eye out for a post in about a week, where I unleash an eBirding challenge on Rhode Island eBirders!