Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our eBird Rankings!

We'll talk more about this soon (with reviews!), but both Paul and I have the eBird app called BirdLog  for our phones (yeah, I got it to work) which allows us a much easier time to create and make lists of birds we see as we see them and it immediately goes into eBird. We now do this all the time, and our eBird lists have taken off.

We both have also gone back and inputted some of our sightings retroactively into eBird (and I even have a couple from earlier in the year that I actually did input when they happened), but sometimes our hand-written records were spotty and inconsistent in terms of writing down important information, so our earlier data on eBird is can be spotty (for example, I only have 187 birds inputted but have seen 190 this year). But it is close enough that we can see our rankings.

Rankings? Yes, you can look at the top eBirders for whatever region you want. Want to know the top birders in all the U.S.? Yep, you can. All of Pennsylvania? Yep, that's there too. It goes down to county, which is what we are going to focus on (because we aren't that good that we'd show up in the top 100 for states, countries, or continents....yet).

So let's start with our own Associate Professor Paul C. Frost. How is he doing in his own home county of Peterborough (I know, I was shocked that Canada uses counties too)?

Look, there he is! Number 24 with a Northern Shoveler as his latest Peterboroughian bird. The total of 125 in Peterborough is pretty good (over half the species found there), but it is going to look pretty barren soon with all the birds leaving, so he might break the top 20, but moving into the higher ranks would require more birding in times that have already passed. I'm pulling for him though, and I think he can easily get in the top 15 with some effort.

Now, I don't know the other counties that he might have been in in Ontario (it is Canada after all and, hence, unknowable to modern knowledge), but I can look at some around him and, lo, he shows up in Durham County!

Number 34 with 77 species in only 5 lists, not bad efficiency Dr. Frost!

Now my home county is small. Delaware County, PA is literally 13% the size of Peterborough County with over 400% the population. Much less space, much more people, but I wouldn't really complain about the birding opportunities. I've been going to Taylor Arboretum recently (it is in my township and close by) and I've birded in Tyler Arboretum and Ridley Creek State Park before, but for the most part I don't bird that much in my home county. How does this translate into my Delco ranking?

Oooh, not bad for a total of only 54 birds. It took Paul two and a half times that to get to number 24 in his county, and there I am at 25. Not bad. I've said many times that if I was eBirding this whole time, I would easily have been in the top 5 in Delaware County. At least my latest bird is some sort of Warbler and not something embarrassingly common like Blue Jay.

But I do most of my good birding in Cape May (there is no way I could come close to the top 100 there) and Philadelphia (which is its own county). So how am I doing in Philly?

Philadelphia has more intense competition at the top than Delaware County, but I have much more birds in Philly. Number 12 is pretty good, but I have much more room to grow with numbers of birds, since there are plenty of winter birds that I never inputted. I saw a White-throated Sparrow the other day in Philly and it was new to my list! So was the freaking House Finch. I'm sure I don't have things like Juncos and plenty of winter ducks either, so I have room to move up.

One last county to look at for me. No, it isn't something in Delaware because, despite me working there overlooking a marsh, I just don't get the diversity of birds coming through to propel me into the top 100 just from work. There just aren't enough trees and forests near my work to get warblers and things. Nope, we are going to look at Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Yay, I show up! But look, I show up from only one single submitted list. See, it goes to show, if you want to glory that is the eBird top 100 list, you have to pick a county or state or riding or whatever that has few birders in it. Efficiency in spamming your name on the top lists is the key!

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