I'm a fan of eBird. This online birding checklist aggregator from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is considered to be a citizen science project that tracks bird sightings from all over the world using data entered into the eBird website or mobile app. The site lets users manage birding checklists, learn about sightings of birds of interest in their geographic area, and learn about new birding hotspots. I use it often to find out what's been happening in our local bird world.
Mailing lists, or list-serves, also fill the role of notifying birders of sightings, but they tend to focus on unusual birds or birds that have arrived later or earlier than normal. eBird's checklists let you see every bird that is reported by birders into the eBird website for any given location and date. You can check on sightings for certain "hot spots", such as Ludington State Park or Bass Lake, or look for sightings by county. Once you get to know other eBirders, you can track their sightings by name. The eBird site can also be set up to e-mail you whenever an unusual sighting takes place. And not to worry, unusual sightings are vetted by other eBirders, so if you report an ivory gull, expect that you'll need to bring a lot of evidence before it gets posted online.
There is a lot to the eBird website, and I recommend that you check out the site at www.ebird.org to learn more, but promoting the eBird site wasn't my main intent with this post. I want to let Sable Dunes Audubon Society members know that we now have a widget on the front page of the website that tracks all of the bird sightings submitted to eBird for Mason County's hotspots for the previous 30 days.
The widget is pretty basic and it is visible on the home page of sabledunesaudbubon.org. It tells the birds seen, the number reported and includes a link to the sighting location.
Clicking on the "map" link opens up Google maps and shows the sighting location.
This can be done for each of the birds reported. Now this doesn't show the same amount of detail that the checklists on eBird show, but it does give a quick snapshot of what is being seen in the county. If you want to dive deeper, you can head over to the eBird webpage and learn more.
One last note. This widget only grabs the sightings from the hot spots that are listed in Mason County on the eBird site, so the widget isn't going to show sightings outside of the following locations. Still, it will hopefully be a quick reference to see what has recently been sighted in the county. If this is well received, I'll work with Cornell to get the coding for an Oceana County version. Oh, and I guess I'd better start entering data in eBird, too!
Enjoy and good birding.