If you studied last week’s post, and the top chart in particular, which has been reproduced below, you may have noticed an outlier, the second week of February. Every year for the past five years, the second week of February has tallied the fewest checklists of the entire year. This is likely due to the fact that the second week of February sees the fewest number of species in the state all year and that by the third week of February, just a few spring migrants are starting to trickle north, making the second week of February the deepest depth of winter.
One of the goals of eBird is consistent sampling effort. This is why all checklists matter as long as they’re complete, including the five minute backyard counts in urban areas. If the only checklists that were ever submitted were from birding hotspots at the peak of migration when birders were chasing vagrants, we’d have a very skewed view of the bird world. Ideally, the number of checklists submitted by week would be the same throughout the year. So in an effort to fill in some of the temporal gap in sampling effort for Rhode Island, I’m issuing a challenge to make the second week of February one of the most eBirded.
There are two metrics on how to evaluate this. Currently, the third week of April is the most eBirded, averaging 63 checklists over the past five years with a total of 313. Currently, the second week of February has averaged only 27 with a total of 133 checklists. Resonable goals would be to either tally 180 checklists to help bring the week closer to the high count of 313, or we could shoot for 148 checklists, which is the most recorded in any single week over the last five years (last January). Let’s try for a minimum of 148 checklists, but see if we can take it all the way to 180!
The easiest way to help us reach our goal is to just go eBirding. Make sure you are submitting COMPLETE checklists (where you answer yes to whether you are reporting all species that you identified). A quick and easy way to tally a lot of checklists is to do five minute stationary counts wherever you are. Go out in the backyard with your bins, start a list, tally everything you see and hear in five minutes and submit it. Do this three to four times a day and we should be well on our way to making the second week of February one of the most eBirded weeks of the year, not one of the least!
Important note: eBird considers the “second week of February” to be the period starting on the 8th of the month and running through the 14th. So on Friday, start entering those lists! Along the way, I’ll provide daily updates on where are in working towards our goal, new species recorded for the second week of February, and new species recorded for the month of February.
One great way to make data entry easier is to use BirdLog, the iPhone and Android app, which is on sale now for the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count for only $0.99!