[dc]L[/dc]ast year Nemesis Bird challenged all PA eBirders to collectively report at least 150 species in each county. This challenge was picked up by many birders across the state and a lot of effort was put into birding undercovered areas and less populated counties. Pennsylvania eBirders were already using eBird pretty heavily before 2012 as shown in the map below (Figure 1.) but there were many counties that were lacking coverage in enough seasons to hit 150 species in a year. Counties in the heavily wooded area of north-central PA and along the Appalachians had the lowest number of reported species in 2011, due partially to the amount of eBird activity in those areas, and the more uniform habitat that made finding 150 species a bit more difficult. Other counties, particularly those with substantial amounts of water, either lakes or rivers, easily surpassed 150 ticks in 2011, with some even hitting 250.
Figure 1. Species reported by county to eBird in 2011
The extra effort in 2012 really paid off, with all 67 counties in Pennsylvania hitting or surpassing the 150 species mark (Figure 2). The counties that just barely squeaked by were those that have few birders and even fewer people submitting eBird records. This seems to be slowly changing as more people are starting to see the value in eBird and reporting their sightings. Overall, this was a fantastic effort on the part of the PA Birding community. Many counties well exceeded 150 counties, with 31 tallying over 200 species and 7 surpassing 250 species. You can also view the map for the whole year animated.
We would like to run another contest in 2013, keeping the collaborative spirit going. Give us your ideas in the comments for a new eBird county contest for PA!
Figure 2. The final year-end map showing number of species reported to eBird in each county with the collective effort of Pennsylvania eBirders.