2013 Bird Watching Recap

Life List Graph
Figure 1 The number of bird species observed by year, the number of lifers (species not previously observed) by year, and the number of checklists submitted by year. The number of checklists is a measure of effort. One checklist includes all bird observations from a specific location at a specific date and time. This graph includes only North American observations and omits a two week trip to Costa Rica in 2012.

Well, this post was supposed to be up in early January and now it’s the end of March, but I really wanted to have some bird lists up when I posted this. I’m going to blame candidacy exam preparations and a steep learning curve when it came to parsing my data from ebird. I do finally, after more than a year, have some active links to birding lists in the menu above. The process is still very kludgy, is not live updating, and for the maps involves a pipeline shunting the data from excel to R to a csv to kml converter and then through google earth. Not in any way ideal but better than nothing till I learn more mySQL. Now we move from excuses and nerdy programing minutia to nerdy birdwatching minutia, buckle up!

As should be abundantly clear from Fig. 1, 2013 was a really good birdwatching year for me. Not counting trips to the tropics this was my highest year total yet, just cracking 200, if I count a golden plover not identified to species. The vast majority of this birding occurred in the Metro Vancouver area (Fig. 2), but I did do some birding on the Island, in Squamish, near Harrison Hot Springs, and in Portland. Of the some 200 odd species I observed this year, 194 of these species were observed in the Metro Vancouver area. My total falls well short of Rob Lyske’s massive 250 species year but still gave me a respectable 14th place among ebird contributors.

I spent a lot more time birdwatching last year than I have in many years (Fig. 1) and it shows in my year total and the number of lifers I saw this year. While the high number of lifers I saw last year (37) is probably at least partly due to my recent move across a continental divide to a different province with a different avifauna, there is definitely an effort component. Of the new species I saw this year I would have to say the highlights included Eurasian rarities like Brambling and Red-flanked Bluetail, seeing my first swifts, my first Long-eared Owl, and the year was capped off with a Wild Turkey in Portland. Here’s hoping for another great year in 2014. You can see my full 2013 list here.



Figure 2 Map showing the geographic distribution of birding locations from 2013. These locations are mainly clustered within the Lower Mainland.

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