This data is taken from eBird, a Citizen Science project to collect birders’ checklist data from around the world for use by researchers and scientists. Data in this chart was accessed on 3/18/2014 from ebird.org. The data is for all of the month of May [only] and is for all years (1900-2013). The cheat sheet is for Northwest Ohio including the counties of Erie, Ottawa, and Lucas. Even though this chart covers the whole month of May, it can still be used as a guideline for Biggest Week this year which occurs from May 6-15, 2014. Check out the main festival site here: http://www.biggestweekinamericanbirding.com/.
The first column is taxonomical sequence. The second column is a difficulty rank based on the highest number of individual birds per checklist for a specific species for May in the Biggest Week area. The lower the difficulty number, the easier the bird is to see (more birds per checklist). Likewise, the higher the difficulty number, the harder that species is to see. The third column is the week in May in which that species peaks–reaches its maximum value for birds per checklist. Column 4 is the species common name. Column 5 is the actual maximum value of birds per checklist that a species achieves in May in the 3-county area. Column 6 is like column 3 but is specific to actual day (as opposed to week of the month). The last column is the average number of checklists submitted during May in the 3-county area to see 1 (one) individual bird. This is calculated by taking the reciprocal of the peak value of abundance (birds per checklist). For example, Ovenbird reaches a peak of 0.480 birds per checklist. So 1 divided by 0.480 equals 2.0833 [checklists to see 1 bird]. But since a fraction remains I add 1 to it to get to 3 checklists to see 1 bird. Got it? Good.
At the end of February I went to Southeastern Colorado for the High Plains Snow Goose Festival. And there were thousands of Snow Geese. For me, the raptors were a treat. This Prairie Falcon is one cool camper! And ther are Red-tailed Hawks of all different colorations. Below is a “Western” Red-tailed Hawk.
Western Red-tailed Hawk
And a beautiful light morph Ferruginous Hawk.
Light morph Ferruginous Hawk
After a few short days at home I drove to Louisville KY to speak to the Beckham Bird Club. We had a great time during my quick visit. Below is one of the Red-necked Grebes on the Ohio River.
In the next day-and-a-half I drove 1,000 miles to reach LaBelle FL for the tail end of the Big “O” Birding Festival. I birded Devil's Garden during the day and gave a slide presentation that evening. The next day I got to bird Stormwater Treatment Area 5 (STA5). Here are a few highlights.
After the Big O, I traveled north to Spring Hill FL for the Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. It was cool to bird this area of Florida–an area I had only birded once before. I visited lots of cool places. And the Saturday keynote went very well. I had a great time. Highlights of Naure Coast are below.
After a fun-filled schedule at Nature Coast I drove north to Tallahassee FL for a couple days of recovery and also to wait out the snowstorm in West Virginia. While in Tallahassee I got to visit Maclay Gardens–an awesomely beautiful place to visit at this time of year. Enjoy the pics!
I've finally waded through 8,000+ photos. My amateur strategy for good photos=volume. When shooting, it's easy to say “It's digital” and shoot away. What is harder is going through the results of that “digital” logic. Volume takes a lot of time. But I have to say that I like taking photos. And lots of them. In the end, I ended up with a number of decent photos that were very satisfying to me.
I have to say that I enjoy photography enough that I actually am willing to put some work into becoming better. Why? Well. Because I want to. Here are few of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them, too.
It is hard to believe just a week ago I was delayed multiple times in the Atlanta airport on my way north to meet the Polar Vortex. I am still going through the 8,000+ photos I took at the end of January in wonderfully warm Florida. Sigh. But the photos get interrupted by shoveling snow…and going to work. This bird was photographed during Wildside Nature Tours Florida Birds Photo Workshop. In the mean time, here is another animated GIF file–a series of six photos of a diving Pied-billed Grebe that I found quite interesting. Check out how the bird seems to sink slightly before diving. And watch its back feet kick water upward to get some force downward on its dive. Very cool!
Pied-billed Grebe diving – Viera Wetlands – Melbourne FL – 2014-01-27 photos by Greg Miller
Yes. It has been forever since my last post. I just returned from a 10-day trip to Florida for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival and a Florida Birds Photo Workshop with Wildside Nature Tours. I am going through my 8,000+ photos while occasionally glancing up at possibly the most boring of Super Bowl games ever. Even the commercial are mediocre. Well. Here is something new. I will try inserting an animated picture here. It is not a video. And I am sure it will not work in the email form of this blog (sorry). I will have plenty to post in the coming days.
Great Blue Heron eating large fish – Viera Wetlands FL – 2014-01-28 photos by Greg Miller
Great Kiskadee displaying crown – Quinta Mazatlan – McAllen TX – 2012-12-12 photo by Greg Miller
Have you been following the Big Year drama this year? Several birders are doing really Big Years and one, Neil Hayward is tied with Sandy Komito’s 1998 record at 745 species plus 3 provisional species (new birds for North America yet to be approved). Will he break the record this year? Time will tell. You can read more about his Big Year here.
Hopefully you all have had a delightful Christmas with family and friends. I have had a wonderfully quiet Christmas and some time to collect for next year. Are you thinking about next year yet? Do you have any birding goals? Have you ever thought about a Big Year? They can be awfully expensive. Maybe you have fancied a smaller Big Year but didn’t know best how to go about getting to your goal.
Enter eBird, a fabulous Citizen Science project on a grand scale. They collect birding checklists from around the world in an online database. This data can be accessed by anyone, not just scientists. It provides a terrific resource. But can it make a plan for Big Years with goals for 300, 400, or 500 species? The quick answer is, Yes. Yes, it can. That is what this post is about–Fast Track Big Year Plans for goals of 300, 400, and 500 species in the ABA Area (American Birding Association’s designation includes the Lower 48 United States plus all of Canada and Alaska). Let’s get right to it: Continue reading →
Bay-breasted Warbler - Magee Marsh - Lucas County OH - 2013-05-05. Photo by Greg Miller. Nearly 1 out of every 5 sightings of this species in North America in May 2013 was recorded in NW Ohio (18.9%). eBird as of 11/29/2013.
Each year, birders from across the U.S. and around the World come to northwest Ohio to go birding. Spring in particular is a great time when visitors come by the tens of thousands and spend millions of dollars in the area. I do not have the exact numbers, but I am sure others do.
Two years ago last month (October) the movie, The Big Year, was released. I personally have seen the movie 24 times since then. Of course I really liked the movie. I am biased though. I got to proofread the script and I got to be on the movie set as a Bird Consultant. What a surreal experience! It still seems like a dream. Like it never truly happened. A Hollywood movie with A-List stars (Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson) was the last thing I would have expected from my Big Year in 1998. So many things had to happen to make this a reality. I often wondered “Why me?” Most folks reserve that for bad experiences. But I soon realized it really wasn't about me. It was waaay bigger! What is it? There is a new wave of popularity in birding. And I am privileged to be riding along with this one! And I can't help believing that we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what is about to be! I am full of hope for our future!
Recently someone asked me how many times I've spoken. Great question. I was curious myself. My friend, Erica Rusk, compiled a list of all the places I've been in the last two years. She has been keeping my calendar for me these last two years. Thank you, Erica! Here is a map I put together with Erica's list and a website called Batchgeo.
Thank you everyone! It has been wonderful traveling all over America (and Canada, too) talking about a contest I didn't win and signing books I didn't write!
Green Jay on arch – Bentsen Rio Grande SP – near McAllen TX – 2012-12-06 photo by Greg Miller
A whole lot of people remember JFK on this date. He was a leader that inspired many people to reach beyond themselves and do great things. But a few folks will remember you. Like me, they valued your friendship and respected your character. And it was you that helped me gain the confidence to believe that I could do anything. JFK I did not know. But I did know you. You were my father, my birding mentor, and my friend. And for that, I am glad.
I lost you on this day 13 years ago, November 22, 2000. I had just moved back to Columbus, OH and got a job there so I could be closer to you during your final days. Little did I know that those final days would only be 2 weeks. <sigh> Your physical presence here on this planet is sorely missed. Much has happened since then. Continue reading →
Yep. I’m behind on my target list for Panama. I’m behind with my blogging. I’m behind at work. I’m behind with half a dozen other projects. Sigh. It happens. What’s hollering the loudest? Panama, of course. It still seems just like a dream. But it’s only just 2 months away! I am writing tonight because there’s been some shuffling on the roster and there are now 6 spaces available. I know it is a last minute proposition but this is a great opportunity. The trip is with Wildside Nature Tours and is January 18-25, 2014. Full info can be found here.
Are you afraid you will be sleeping in mosquito nets? Roughing it without electricity? Eating canned food? Haha. Check out this short video from the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Maybe you are afraid I will push you to build your bird list at a relentless pace? Relax. We will get to see tons of birds and enjoy them, too! And wowzers! Have you seen any of the fabulous butterflies in Panama? Check out a few of these pics! And don’t forget the fantastic flowers! Pretty awesome, eh?
Did you know you can use U.S. dollars in Panama? And we are only gonna stay in one spot–no need to pack up your bags and move around every couple days. The hikes will be relatively easy–so easy, in fact, that I can do it. Here is a longer YouTube video (unofficial) of the lodge and surrounding grounds.
Ok. I’m done for the evening. Sweet dreams (it’s brisk tonight in Ohio as the temperature is slated to drop below freezing). Just imagine how cold it will be in January. Now replace that with a warm, tropical breeze and a comfy hammock.