Monday, July 29, 2013

Year of Birds by the Numbers, Part 2

We have reached the 1/2 point through the Bird of Year competition and, much like I did for the 1/4 way mark, it is time for another numerical analysis of our progress!

The numbers went up fast over the past three months as spring migration brought in a considerable influx of new and previously unseen birds. Damon and I both spent a considerable amount of time beating the bush, which is reflected in the rapid increase in our totals. I also had one trip to Oregon which pushed my total up beyond anything I might have been able to do if I had stayed on the East coast.

If you look at the numbers through time, you will see the pattern of slow bird sightings in January and February (with the exception of my mid-February trip to Louisiana) and a fairly rapid rate of increase in March, April, and May. Damon did especially well in early May and my early June trip to Oregon is obvious as well. There was a stagnation of our numbers in late June as the summer heat and foliage became greater challenges.

We can also look at the difference between my cumulative count and Damon's.
Here you can see that Damon had about a 10 bird lead on my until mid-February and after that I had a 15-30 bird lead up to early June when my lead jumped up to almost 60 birds. Again my Eastern Oregon trip was a definitive factor in this widening gap between our yearly bird totals.

Looking at the list of birds that Damon and I have seen so far this year, I next tallied up how birds were common to both of our lists and how many unique species we had seen that the other guy hadn't. Our previous totals at the end of March had Damon with 30 unique species, me with 40 unique species, and our lists sharing 46 species. These numbers have changed a bit in the past couple of months.

Damon now has seen 34 birds that I haven't, I have seen 94 species that Damon hasn't, and we have seen 122 of the same species. This suggests that I have been able to track down many or most of the new species that Damon has seen but that I have added 50 or so species that he hasn't been able to seen. I wonder if my trip to Oregon in June had anything to do with this?

We can also look at the bird categories to see who is ahead for different types of birds. 
The last time I did this, I was less careful with the groupings. But this time, we covered most of the main bird groups and have about a dozen or so categories now. A few things jump that out at me about these numbers is that I am well ahead in the waterfowl, shorebirds, and miscellaneous waterbirds. How did I see so many more 'water' birds than Damon? Perhaps this is an area he could focus on to try to catch up some?

Lots of categories are very similar between the two of us including woodpeckers, crows and jays, pigeons and doves, mimids, gulls and terns. And Damon is ahead in only 4 categories- those being warblers and vireos, tyrant flycatchers, thrushes, and wrens. I suspect his obsession with his birdsong application and careful attention to small birds accounts for this lead. The only small bird category I am doing well at is the sparrows and finches. I do like the sparrows; I mean who doesn't?

I imagine our numbers will level off as we move farther into summer and early fall. But maybe there will be some surprises as the fall migration starts up? Perhaps there will be more trips for me to push my lead even higher? Perhaps Damon will spend some time near the ocean and lake shores and learn to identify ducks and geese (besides the Canada Goose and Mallard)? Who knows?

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