Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Year of Birds by the Numbers, Part 3

Damon and I have now passed the 3/4th mark of our competition, which means its time for the 3rd installment of Year of Birds by the Numbers!

Let's start with where we left off at the end of June. At that point, I had seen 213 bird species and Damon had tallied 156 for the year. During the next three months (July, August, and September), I added 47 new species and Damon put up another 34 species. So at the end of September, my total birds for the year stands at 260 and Damon's total is 190. Here is how our numbers increased over the year so far.

If you take the difference between my total and that of Damon's on each day you can see the points in time that I increased my lead most dramatically. Squint your eyes (sorry for the small text) and you will see that there are three places where my numbers dramatically increase and create a large gap with Damon.

These three events were: 1) my trip to Louisiana, 2) my June trip to Oregon, and 3) my August trip to Oregon. While I took a trip to Point Pelee, it didn't greatly increase my lead; perhaps this was because Damon was seeing lots of birds at that time? My other trip to Nova Scotia was successful but it didn't yield a larger lead either. It is also interesting to see how quickly Damon regained the ground I gained after my August trip to Oregon. I remember him being at Cape May so perhaps his trips were equalizing mine.

I was also curious what the competition might have looked like if I hadn't been flying around the continent. A quick way to see this is to subtract the new birds added during my trips and to recalculate the difference. Would Damon be ahead in this no big trip scenario? I did this by subtracting my trips to Oregon, Nova Scotia, and Louisiana (I left the Point Pelee trip because I stayed in Ontario, which I think makes it less of a big trip).
The quick answer is that Damon would be in the lead if you disallowed my trip birds. This represents a difference of about 100 birds, which is a large swing and clearly shows that traveling was a big decider of the competition. Of course, this is slightly not correct in that: 1) I have seen some of the birds from trips here in Ontario during my non-traveling bird outings (I can think of several (Great Egret, American Kestrel) off the top of my head), and 2) my traveling represents an opportunity cost in terms of my birding close to home. In other words, I may have seen more birds here in Ontario if I hadn't been in Oregon or Nova Scotia. If we factored these two adjustments, I would hazard a guess that Damon and I would be very close to having the same number of birds.

We would be tied. 

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