2013 and beyond

It's pretty simple: the most birds seen or heard from one's yard during 2013 will be the "winner". Want in? O.k....then do it despite that.

2013 promises to be a lot less mean but still a carbon-free birding competition, even if slightly less exciting than a MEGA x EPIC hybrid.

Monday, March 9, 2009

#29 & more on this "handicap" idea

Well, for what it's worth (not very much!) I just had a Killdeer fly over the yard, year bird #29! It's sunny and cool, and I wouldn't doubt it if a few more species end up on the list over the next few days. Birds I've seen nearby but not from the yard in the past few days include Herring Gull, Northern Harrier, and Mute Swan- all of which should be possible soon.

As far as Greater White-fronted Geese- give it a rest already, Sean! You've at least doubleed my all-time state total for Michigan (somewhere around 30-40 individuals in 4-5 separate sightings), FROM YOUR YARD! Curtis, the only chance we stand is the fact that he may not be able to bird in that yard from June to December, but even then we may well have trouble.

Maybe we can introduce Curtis's handicap idea- how about we correct each year bird total by acreage (simple division) of yard, and variety of habitat types (general categories like open water, wetland, meadow, mowed lawn, forest, or something like that), but NOT observer effort, then see who "averages" out on top? Sean has the most acreage and the most varied habitats, and this might even the field a bit, but he also spends the most hours looking, thus will be rewarded for that.

My yard has some open lawn and mostly black oak/black cherry upland forest, but no wetland or water of any sort (except my water bath!). It is 0.55 acres in extent, and my view of the horizon is near zilch, another reason I cannot get the waterfowl skeins like Sean can. Flybys have to come almost straight over the house for me to see them. Anyway, it may be hard to relinquish the lead, Sean, but let's see if you're up to this new challenge or not. If you're having trouble accepting it, maybe we could also include a correction factor for # of months of the year we were present on the property too?


  1. I'm definitely not opposed to this. I've honestly given the yard birding a rest the past few days partially just because it will not be too long before I'm over your guys total yard lists and at that point it will seem just kind of silly... I don't know how to really effectively handicap it, but if divided by acreage alone (14 acres) - that would have me at a whooping 3.7 birds per acre thus far. Varied habitats may be a better idea, I have effectively open brom field/hay field, secondary woods (boxelder, willow, and sugar maple), mixed oak and spruce/pine forest adjacent (40-50 acres), open ag fields, and several nearby ponds/wetland complexes. I would say that this is five different habitat types. I still don't think you can just straight up divide the number by five though... I don't know the "fair" way to do it, but I'm happy to adjust my totals however you guys think will be more comparable.

  2. I think 3.7 birds/acre sounds good to me! My little plot would fair will with that! I've told Caleb, but you should know too, Sean, that my yard is an extended yard. I use the abandoned, wooded lot that boarders my personal yard to the west. I walk it to the south as well...for about 100 yards. I'm guessing it's 1.5 acres. Without it, I'm practically nothing for birds except your typical backyard feeder birds. With it, I get 20 species of warblers and a host of others urban "fallout" migrants.

  3. Sounds like we need to consult a statistician! Let's run a few numbers and try to find something that seems appropriate. Hypothetically, Sean could count only the birds seen in habitats present in the other two yards (basically, canopy forest and open lawn)? Then when you get Lapland Longspur in your ag field, it won't count toward the competition list- same with Bobolink. Of course, if Bobolinks nest in the field, you're certain to be able to hear them from the forested portion of the property. Hmmm, maybe you could only count BOBO if it was an overhead flyby over the forest? Something like this might be better. Thoughts?

  4. How about this, I count everything I record from any part of my yard and I then halve the total due to the more rural placement of the yard and just better general topography of the area. I then would deduct another 2% per my varied habitat types (5 x 2% = 10%). So half of my actual total and then 90% of that total. Totally arbitrary, but from the looks of things, I think it will be roughly equal to what you guys manage (and the 10% would even things out even more as my total gets higher). The problem with your proposal Caleb is that I can see and hear almost everything from the "lawn" part of my yard. Bobolink fly over the house all summer long singing all the way. LALO will most likely be a flyover I just hear from the lawn in the back, etc. So I think your proposal would limit a few sightings just by chance, but not significantly. So as of today I'm up to 62 species, halved would be 31 and another ~3 subtracted so I'm at 28 according to that algorithm. Thoughts?

  5. Seems like a good algorithm to get us started and to keep you trying hard! Of course, by September when we are gaining ground and you have left WI perhaps we'll need to revert to gross totals again? Time will tell...

  6. Dude I don't know where I'll be in Sept, totally job dependent. If I haven't found a decent full time job by then or am starting training for ATC in OK City, I may still be here. Hard to predict...


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