Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Documenting Life With E-Bird

Two more Allen’s hummingbird chicks fledged today. L-1 is sitting at the top of the Lady Banks’ rose chirping for mom to bring lunch. It can’t quite fly, but it can hover a few inches at a time.

This afternoon the mother Bewick’s wren brought the first youngster of 2010 into the yard on a foraging expedition. She showed it a few prime hunting areas then went off to take care of the younger kids still in the nest. Junior Bewick’s wren has been left in the yard. Sometimes it feels like our yard is a playpen. Today there are 3 young hummingbirds and 1 young wren safely hidden in or exploring the confines of our yard.

This month I’ve been trying to increase my awareness of local biodiversity and participate in making others more aware as well.

I’ve started to really participate in e-bird. This on-line birding site allows birders across the country to document bird species. What you see in your backyard is recorded with the same scientific interest as rare species migrating through a wilderness area.

I’ve committed myself to expanding my observations from Project FeederWatch to e-bird as well. For e-bird I am making a weekly observation in my yard, a weekly observation at my local foothill park and a monthly observation at a state park.

E-bird offers a variety of ways to look at the data you collect and to see compiled information from other birders as well.

The program compiles the data you enter and it creates histograms showing when species are most likely to be seen at your location. It keeps lists of the species you’ve seen annually and life list.

Looking at everyone’s entered data, e-bird offers a way to search a species and see where it has been seen by other people. For example if you wanted to see a red-shouldered hawk, you could use the data to find out which month of the year it was most likely to be seen and then view a map with specific locations.

It is kind of fun that I can go to the map and see a specific location where I made an observation. My contribution to documenting the bird species in my neighborhood is right there on the map for everyone to see.

The young hummingbirds and the young wren were all inputted into e-bird as well. All three of these Allen’s hummingbirds are the offspring of Fik, the male hummingbird that my dog and I rescued in the summer of 2008.

Check out e-bird. Become a citizen scientist. It is hard not to care about local wildlife when you know their family stories as well as your own.

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