To encourage increased use of eBird in Pennsylvania, we are starting both a yard competition and a patch competition across the state for 2012. Hopefully, the friendly competition will spur Pennsylvania eBirders to enter more checklists, keeping Pennsylvania high in the rankings of states with the most number of checklists submitted each month. In addition, the increased incentive to bird either your backyard or your local patch will increase the number of high quality checklists being entered into eBird each month, providing eBird with more information on the common birds throughout the seasons.
Through eBird, we already have an easy way to set up your patches and yards. You will want to log in (or sign up) to eBird, then click on View and Explore Data. On the right there is a box titled Your Totals. Here you can select either Yard Totals or Patch Totals which will take you to a page where you can set your locations.
A patch is your personal favorite place to bird. This can be anything from a state park to a sewage plant to a riparian corridor that you bird over lunch breaks. Patch birding can be very rewarding as you learn the abundance and distribution of the local birds and find the favorite foraging areas of migrants. This competition will utilize the Patch feature of eBird to keep track of everyone’s patch in one place for easy comparison.
Patches should consist of one or more eBird locations that refer to a geographically restricted area. While you are free to set up as many patches as you want, realistically you will only be able to really thoroughly bird a small handfull of sites. Many patches will only have one location, however some birding hotspots have several locations already set up, such as the different vantage points to view the lake at Bald Eagle State Park. These would combined make a valid patch. Patches should NOT consist of multiple locations across a broad area. For more info on what makes up a patch, read eBird’s Patch Listing Guidelines. To make the competition more fair among different types of birding habitat, we will classify patches into 6 categories. When you are selecting the category, use your best judgement, these are obviously very simple descriptions attempting to fit a whole range of habitats. If you have any questions, email me or leave a comment below and we’ll help you out.
- Small size, uniform habitat.
- Small size, diverse habitat types.
- Medium size, uniform habitat.
- Medium size, diverse habitats types.
- Large size, uniform habitat.
- Large size, diverse habitats types.
To participate in this competition, simply head to eBird and create your patch and name it with the following format. Begin the patch name with P and the patch category (ie. P5). After the category, give your patch a unique name and follow it by the county it is in. See below for an example. Those of you who know Bald Eagle State Park know it should actually be a category 6, but we changed the categories after I made the graphic.
Much like patch birding, maintaining a yard list can be a very rewarding exercise. You can read about Corey Husic’s 2011 yard list and all the great birds he found. This year the yard competition will utilize the Yards feature of eBird to keep track of the lists. In the past, Ron Rovansek kept track of everything by hand; eBird will make this a lot easier by taking care of all the heavy lifting and data collection. We will use the same categories that Ron set up for previous years for comparing similar yards. Again, use your best judgement on what category you fit in.
- Urban yards, apartments, and condos
- Suburban Yards surrounded by suburban yards
- Suburban yards adjacent to good bird habitat
- 1 to 5 acre yards
- Yards more than 5 acres
To participate in this competition, simply head to eBird and create your Yard and name it with the following format. Start the name with Y and the yard category (ie. Y1) and follow it with a unique name for your patch and the county. The unique name can be your last name or whatever you want it to be.
Since eBird keeps a running total for all the yards and patches, it will be easy for you to check on your lists and compare them to others across the state. Periodically we will be highlighting some of the yards and patches with the highest number of patches and most checklists submitted.