2013 Impatient Birder’s Mini-Almanac to North America!

Here is part 2 of a series I am working on for rolled up eBird data from all the States and Provinces for North America from 1900 through 2012.  A few days ago I introduced the 2013 Impatient Birder’s Cheat Sheet to North America.  It was a list of species counts by State and Province (with corresponding month & week).  I wanted to have something that gave me an idea of when the best time to go birding was for each State and Province.  Pretty cool stuff.  So cool I decided to share it with everybody…for free.  See my previous post for this brief, but information-filled table in PDF format.

Today, I am introducing the follow up report using the same data.  The previous one listed species counts by State and Province.  It is good for planning travel to those areas.  But what if you are an impatient birder like me?  And you have a very limited schedule so you might not be able to take off all those spring dates which happen to be most of the “best” times listed in the previous post.  Sigh.  Such is the time-crunched day and age in which we live.  Enter this new document, the 2013 Impatient Birder’s Mini-Almanac to North America.  This is a list of the top places to go birding by month & week of the year.

2013 Impatient Birders Mini-Almanac to North America

Pretty cool idea, right?  I thought so.  Unfortunately, some of the biases of my data are showing their teeth here.  The biggest states with the most bird reports are getting all the glory, especially in total number of species reported.  In fact, this shows you only have two options: Texas or California.  But, this is what I have chosen to work with using political boundaries for my regions.  Remember, I am doing this work in my “spare” time while I am not working at my day job or galavanting around the country to birding festivals.

Here is a brief explanation of the columns:


Month and week of the year in sequence. In eBird, the first week is represented by days 1-7 on the calendar.  The second week is the 8th through the 14th. The third week is 15-21 on the calendar and the fourth week is the 22nd through the end of the month.  Today is August 16, 2013.  So we are into eBird’s third week of August–the line I have highlighted in yellow.

Total Species Reported

Total number of species ever reported during this week (eBird 1900-2012), including all vagrants and accidentals.  This may help indicate when and where you may have a shot at some rare birds.  California has reported 442 species during this week in August.  Holy smokes!  That is a larger total than some checklists for entire states!  Of course, California is big and there are lots of eBird reports.  (For those of you data geeks out there, I found a high correlation between the number of checklists submitted and the population of a State or Province.  Haha.  Big surprise, eh?  Yeah.  Right.)

Total Species State/Province

Location (State or Province) for the previous column’s number (Total Species Reported).

Species Count (>=2%)

Count of species more likely to be seen in a typical week of birding.  Only those species meeting my completely arbitrary 2% Frequency of Checklists threshold (or more) are included.  This number only counts species showing up on 2% or more of the checklists submitted in eBird.  EBird refers to the percent of checklists as Frequency of Checklists.  This number more closely approximates the species totals you may encounter on a week long birding trip for any given State/Province and month and week listed here.  Of course, there are no guarantees.  Your actual numbers may be higher or lower.  It is merely a way to consistently measure a birder’s probability for success by State and Province and month and week of the year.

Species Count (>=2%) State/Province

Location (State or Province) for the previous column’s number (Species Count (>=2%)).  For the third week of August, Nevada gets a Shout Out.  Really?  This one probably merits some extra thought.  I am guessing there is some bias here on the number of checklists submitted being lower than for other states, allowing species to appear a bit more common than they really are.  Still, Nevada birding can be pretty surprising to the first time visitor.  It has some pretty cool birding.  More on that at a later time.

Note that all species numbers used here (and in the previous Cheat Sheet) are filtered using ABA Checklist v7.4 (http://aba.org)

Finally, without any further ado, here is the totally free download in PDF format:

2013 Impatient Birders Mini-Almanac to North America


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