BirdsEye Nature Apps http://www.birdseyebirding.com Passionately supporting citizen science projects Wed, 29 Aug 2018 12:22:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Birding With Children in the Amazon http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/08/27/birding-with-children-in-the-amazon/ Mon, 27 Aug 2018 19:40:13 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=16106 (Part of our mission at BirdsEye is to support grass-roots, conservation efforts like the Amazon Binocular Project) by Phil Kahler, Tualatin Valley Academy Five Many-banded Aracari (a type of toucan) are feeding in some trees and have attracted the attention of two Maijuna children.  Walking across the field the children sit down in the grass […]

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(Part of our mission at BirdsEye is to support grass-roots, conservation efforts like the Amazon Binocular Project)

by Phil Kahler, Tualatin Valley Academy

Kris Pflaging with Maijuna children.

Five Many-banded Aracari (a type of toucan) are feeding in some trees and have attracted the attention of two Maijuna children.  Walking across the field the children sit down in the grass near the edge of their village to get a closer look.  They are using binoculars and are quick to fully immerse themselves into the joys of bird watching.  I and the other educators in our group look at each other and smile.  The Amazon Binocular Project is working; children in small village schools dotted along the Amazon and Napo Rivers in Northeastern Peru are falling in love with birds.

Percy Reyna and Cesar Sevillano with the new curriculum.

We asked children at the village school in Saint Martha if they had any favorite animals.  To our amazement nearly half of the children responded with specific bird names!  Their teacher had recently attended a workshop where she and one hundred other local instructors received environmental science training.  While at the workshop the student’s teacher obtained a copy of Celebra las Aves en La Amazonia Peruana, a new environmental education curriculum designed specifically to teach them about their local birds.  The teaching guide was designed by Karen Purcell and her Celebrate Urban Birds team at Cornell Lab of Ornithology along with the help of Peruvian teachers and Percy Reyna and Cesar Sevillano, the two bird guides who have been leading our efforts in Amazon schools.

Brian Landever, director of CONAPAC, a local NGO, organized this professional development event for the teachers, and together with Pam Bucur, general manager of Explorama Lodges, created a check-out system for schools to use our binoculars.  Both Pam and Brian have noted a huge increase in birds featured in student artwork at remote schools CONAPAC serves.

Cesar helping student focus on a bird.

Teacher participants of the Educator Academy in the Amazon Rainforest, an annual teacher workshop attended by U.S. educators,assisted Percy and Cesar as they introduced proper binocular use to the students of Saint Martha.  This was the first time the students had used binoculars and they were thrilled to practice focusing on distant objects.  Percy and Cesar’s patient mentoring soon resulted in students spotting birds in a nearby tree.  As our time at the school ended, it was obvious the children were hungry for more time with the binoculars.

Sierra High School students from Colorado visited the small school at Canal Pinto for a community service day with CONAPAC officials.  They worked with community members to paint the school and plant a garden.  Several of the high school students worked side by side with local students to paint a Great Kiskadee and a Ringed Kingfisher on the wall outside the kindergarten classroom.  Sierra High School students also brought some binoculars to Peru for the Amazon Binocular Project and took the opportunity to introduce the young Canal Pinto students to their first lesson on how to use binoculars.

Canal Pinto students paint “Victor Diaz”, a Great Kiskadee on school.

The Amazon Binocular Project was officially launched in November 2016 when Christa Dillabaugh, director of Amazon Workshops set up the webpage and coordinated with the EcoTeach Foundation to receive donations.  In two years’ time my students at Tualatin Valley Academy have inspected and cleaned over forty pairs of used binoculars for bird conservation education.  Last winter our friends at Eagle Optics provided a deep discount during their “going out of business sale” resulting in donations of fifty pairs of new binoculars.  Additional binoculars have been dropped off at the CONAPAC office in Iquitos by educators and visitors to the rainforest.  We now have nearly one hundred pairs of binoculars in classroom sets of five being checked out by teachers each month.

Teacher and student demand for binoculars in the Amazon has never been greater.  To reach all the CONAPAC schools requesting binoculars we have set our goal at four hundred pairs.  These additional binoculars would make it possible to distribute sets of ten to each of the area CONAPAC schools for loan periods of three months instead of our current one-month rotation per school.  This summer we were excited to receive a $1000 donation that will help us buy twenty new binoculars from Vortex, who has kindly offered to continue the donor discount originally offered to us by Eagle Optics.  News about our success with the Amazon Binocular Project is spreading!

Five years ago, I had a pivotal conversation with an extraordinary local guide, Lucio Pando, about his dream of teaching children in the Peruvian Amazon about birds.  Lucio knew the key to fostering children’s appreciation for birds was in helping them to see the intricacies of their plumage and behavior.  Lucio’s students needed binoculars!  While Lucio, our beloved bird guide, is sorely missed, I’m sure he would be very proud of his friends working to make bird conservation education in the Amazon a reality.  Please visit our webpage or contact us to learn how to donate funds and/or binoculars to the Amazon Binocular Project.

Lucio Pando teaching a group of students.

Learn more on the Amazon Binocular Project website:

http://amazonworkshops.com/amazonbinocular-project/

Or contact them through their email:

binocularproject@amazonworkshops.com

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Adventuring While Birding: Safety Tips for Backcountry Travels http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/08/26/safety-tips-for-adventurous-birders/ Mon, 27 Aug 2018 03:43:00 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=16089 Photo by Michelle Walcott on Unsplash By Avery Phillips Sometimes a birding adventure takes you off the beaten path and beyond cell service, away from the neverending stresses and notifications of home and work. While rugged ventures on the edge of civilization can be refreshing and rewarding, they also leave you isolated and far from […]

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Photo by Michelle Walcott on Unsplash

By Avery Phillips

Sometimes a birding adventure takes you off the beaten path and beyond cell service, away from the neverending stresses and notifications of home and work. While rugged ventures on the edge of civilization can be refreshing and rewarding, they also leave you isolated and far from help should trouble arise. But fear not! We have a few tips to ensure a safe and fun birding adventure.

Adventure Safely

While birdwatching is generally a safe activity, there are still a few precautions to keep in mind—especially if you’re going off the grid. First, try to bring a friend whenever you head out on a birding adventure. Not only does a friend provide companionship and an extra pair of bird-watching eyes, but they’ll also watch your back and keep you from getting lost if you’re a wanderer.

If you insist on traveling alone, be sure to let somebody know your planned route and tell them where you’ll be and when you’ll be home. Likewise, it’s not a bad idea to pack a whistle with you, just in case.

Second, beware of trespassing on private land; look out for signs near trailhead entrances. It’s easy to get consumed by the hunt for exotic wildlife, but people can be protective of their property if you wander from public to private lands.

Finally, be watchful of other types of wildlife. Protect yourself against ticks and mosquitos with long clothes, nets, and bug spray. Also be aware of larger predators like bears, mountain lions, wolves, and moose—any one of these animals will attack if humans approach them. Depending on the animals residing in the area you plan to explore, you might need to bring bear spray or learn other ways of protecting yourself in the wild. If you do encounter a large mammal, slowly back away and try to refrain from running or making any sudden moves.

Bring Food and Water

No matter how long you plan to trek into the wilderness, packing some food and water (or a water filtration system) is essential. You will need some nourishment to fuel you through the day, but prepare for the worst (i.e., if you get lost and need to sustain yourself for a little longer than expected). When you’re out hiking and birding, bring some low-glycemic foods along with you. Foods with a low glycemic index are best because they’ll keep your blood sugar from spiking right after you eat the food and then drastically dropping, causing fatigue and hunger. Try a few of these options on your next hike:

  • Berries
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola bar (protein bar, energy bar, etc.)
  • Jerky
  • Trail mix

With these snacks in tow, you’ll never have to leave a choice birding spot just because you’re hungry.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Taking breaks from technology is great for your health because it gives you the mental space to relax without constant notifications and incoming messages. Birding is a great way to get into the woods and away from technology, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use some helpful tools to your advantage! However, when you’re traveling off-grid, and you don’t have any cell service or Internet connection, how do you take advantage of the birding apps and tools you love to use? Apps like the eBird mobile app can offer offline checklists, and BirdsEye’s new offline capabilities will help you discover the birds you are likely to find around you. You’ll want to make sure and track your GPS location manually when you’re out of cell service range.

When heading out for the day, make sure to fully charge your device, even if you don’t intend to use them. Just in case you need to make an emergency call, you’ll need a fully charged phone handy.

* * *

If birding is your hobby, then you probably spend plenty of time in the wilderness without a cell tower in sight. Birding is a great way to spend your free time, but make sure you take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and fun trip!

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Birding with BirdsEye Offline http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/08/26/birding-with-birdseye-offline/ Mon, 27 Aug 2018 02:13:39 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=16094 Birding in remote areas has its challenges. Though some of the most unique and diverse avifauna can be found in these areas, it is tough to lug in the field guides or camera equipment to ID them. On top of it all, little to no internet or cellular connectivity can hinder your ability to use […]

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Birding in remote areas has its challenges. Though some of the most unique and diverse avifauna can be found in these areas, it is tough to lug in the field guides or camera equipment to ID them. On top of it all, little to no internet or cellular connectivity can hinder your ability to use the world wide web to identify your bird.

Hindrances no more! BirdsEye has just improved its offline capabilities! Now, all of the BirdsEye data (for every species!) can be accessed at your fingertips even when you are as far away from a cell tower or router as possible. Though it is easier than ever to access all of this data, there are a few tricks you can use to improve your experience:

  • Downloading all the BirdsEye-compiled text, photos, and sounds for the world’s’ bird species is no quick jaunt in the park. When downloading data for offline usage, ensure you have a secure and strong WiFi connection and attach your device to a charger. Through your device’s “Settings” tab, set your screen ‘auto-lock’ to ‘never’. The best download is an uninterrupted download!
  • If you do happen to find service near your remote birding location— whether this be a nearby coffee shop, hotel, or the flickering one bar of cell service atop a mountain— refresh your ‘Nearby’ and ‘Smart Search’ list. These lists will be cached into your phone and will remain accessible when that one bar disappears and you are again offline. By doing this, you can see birds that have been seen recently within your vicinity.  If you’d like a more specific list of birds, you can further narrow down your ‘Nearby’ list by interacting with the Smart Search criteria.
  • If there is a Hotspot or CBC Circle on the ‘Browse by Location’ map near your birding destination, save it to your ‘Favorite Locations’ list. This data will also cache to your device and will allow the listed birds to be accessible offline.

BirdsEye now makes it easier than ever to interact with birds and birders anywhere on the planet. We hope you enjoy the new capabilities of the app. As always, we love to hear your feedback.

Happy Birding!
The BirdsEye Team

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A Life of Art, Travel, and Birds http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/07/24/catherine-hamilton-bird-nature-art/ Tue, 24 Jul 2018 17:12:17 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=15756 The post A Life of Art, Travel, and Birds appeared first on BirdsEye Nature Apps.

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By Aaron Sidder

In 2003, Catherine Hamilton was working as a full-time artist, with a focus on oil paintings. With two art degrees and a teaching stint at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design to her name, Hamilton had found success exhibiting her work and teaching in New York City. Then, unexpectedly, she developed a severe allergy to the solvents in the oil paint she used, and her doctors insisted that she take a hiatus from both painting and teaching. After years of hard work and training, she was no longer physically able to do her job. To recover from the crushing loss of her career, Hamilton dug a pair of used binoculars out of her closet, an old gift from her father, and started birding. So began her metamorphosis into a world-renowned bird and nature artist.




Hamilton started sketching birds while birding in nature refuges and parks. Now, her work is featured in magazines, documentaries, and even the scientific journal, Nature. (Hover over the images to scroll through them.)



Hamilton had not birded much since her childhood, but with some time on her hands, she started walking around nature refuges and hunting down species along the east coast. The natural environment and peaceful concentration of birding turned out to be a healthy activity in a not-so-healthy period of her life. She found that chasing birds helped turn her attention outward and away from the self-centered perspective she had relied on to create her art. She was hooked. A few years later, she put most of her belongings in storage and started traveling to find and draw birds, a technique that didn’t rely on the damaging oils she was allergic to. Years later and Hamilton is still sketching.

Today, Hamilton lives the life of an itinerant nature artist, giving talks at birding festivals, leading field sketching workshops, and traveling to exotic locales for far-flung birding adventures. Much of her work is funded through corporate sponsorships; she currently serves as an Ambassador for Birding for ZEISS Sports Optics, for example. She recently returned from Morocco where she was painting some of the last wild colonies of the northern bald ibis, one of the rarest birds in the world. BirdLife International commissioned a short film on the project, “A Reason For Hope,” which is set to debut at this year’s British Birdwatching Fair.

“I’m completely absorbed with the northern bald ibis because they are so bizarre,” she says. “They act goofy because of how they look, and it’s difficult not to anthropomorphize them. It makes them really interesting to draw because they are both hideously ugly and interesting.”




Hamilton recently traveled to Morocco to sketch the rare and critically endangered northern bald ibis. These sketches are a sample from that work, which was sponsored by ZEISS Sports Optics.



Another of Hamilton’s adventures was recently featured in the Summer 2018 issue of Living Bird magazine. The feature recounts her journey to northeastern India’s Nagaland state to witness the Amur falcon migration. During her trip, she became the first western woman to visit the Pangti Village in Nagaland.

Hamilton’s life is not what she pictured eight years ago when she had to stop painting, but she concedes that her life is pretty awesome. Hamilton is still able to exhibit her work regularly, both the illustrations that she’s known for and other fine art that she creates.

You can find her illustrations in the Princeton University Press Warbler Guide and follow her work through her Facebook page and website.




In 2017, Hamilton traveled to Nagaland state, India, with Living Bird magazine observe the annual Amur falcon migration and draw the fleet birds.


All images courtesy of Catherine Hamilton.

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Birding in Papua New Guinea http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/06/26/birding-papua-new-guinea/ Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:37:10 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=15511 By Avery Phillips Papua New Guinea is known for its diversity, in terms of landscape, culture, and species of birds. With rugged mountains, tropical rainforests, large wetlands that almost 800 different species of birds — 76 of them endemic — call home, this island country is an ideal place for birding. Because of its mountainous […]

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By Avery Phillips

Victoria Crowned-Pigeon (Goura victoria)

Papua New Guinea is known for its diversity, in terms of landscape, culture, and species of birds. With rugged mountains, tropical rainforests, large wetlands that almost 800 different species of birds — 76 of them endemic — call home, this island country is an ideal place for birding.

Because of its mountainous interior, Papua New Guinea does not have much in the way of infrastructure. Some locations can only be accessed by helicopter or on foot, so get your gear ready. A sturdy backpack for camping, a good pair of binoculars, and a solid pair of hiking boots will do the trick.

You may also want to brush up on your photography skills and bring your camera along to document the scenery and avifauna on your adventure. You want to be ready to photograph one of the many species of pigeons, kingfishers, or birds of paradise.

Keep your camera out; in addition to the plethora of unique birds, Papua New Guinea has gorgeous scenery and landscapes you’ll want to capture on film as you work your way through the mountains, forests, and rivers. And who knows — maybe a flock will take to the sky as you’re positioning your camera for a shot! With some planning, a lot of exploring, and a dash of luck, you may be able to catch a glimpse of one of these unique birds that live in Papua New Guinea:

1. Victoria Crowned Pigeon

The Victoria crowned pigeon is one of about 40 species of pigeon found in Papua New Guinea. It is a ground-dwelling bird recognizable by its blue and white crests, maroon breast, and red irises. They are typically found at sea-level in lowlands or swamp forests and fly from the trees to the sea daily.

Victoria crowned pigeons search for food on the forest floor, often in small groups or pairs. Fallen fruit is the staple of their diet, though they will occasionally eat seeds or small insects too. Though they are widely kept in captivity, they are the rarest species of crowned pigeon found in the wild — and definitely worth seeing while birding in Papua New Guinea.

2. Shovel-billed Kookaburra

The shovel-billed kookaburra, also called the shovel-billed kingfisher, can only be found in Papua New Guinea. Their bills are short and broad, and they have dark heads, a white throat, brown irises, with rufous coloring behind their eyes, on their neck, and underparts. They also have a bright blue rump, and males have a dark blue tail while females’ are rufous.

Shovel-billed kookaburras primarily live in hill forests, though they have been sighted at sea level and elevations up to 2400 meters. Though they are not endangered or vulnerable, they are thought to be crepuscular or partially nocturnal, making them difficult (but not impossible!) to spot.

3. Black Honey Buzzard

A bird of prey endemic to the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea, the black honey buzzard inhabits subtropical or tropical lowland forests and tropical mountain forests. They are known for their almost entirely black plumage with distinct white bands on their flight and tail feathers.

Not much is known about the black honey buzzard, but they are classified as a vulnerable species by the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss. Though rare, they are easiest to spot while in flight because of their white bands.

4. Pesquet’s Parrot

Pesquet’s parrot can be found in hill and mountain rainforests in Papua New Guinea. They are large birds, with black plumage, grey scalloped feathers to the chest, and a red belly and wing-panels. They are sometimes referred to as the vulturine parrot, because of their long, hooked bill.

These parrots feed almost exclusively on different species of figs, and their bare head prevents the sticky fruit from matting their feathers. Though they are considered vulnerable due to overhunting and habitat loss, they are typically spotted in pairs or up to groups of twenty birds, making them more conspicuous than other elusive birds in Papua New Guinea.

5. Raggiana Bird of Paradise 

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the famous birds of paradise that populate Papua New Guinea. The Raggiana bird of paradise is the national bird of Papua New Guinea and is included on the national flag. They are widely distributed in the south and northeast, typically in tropical forests.

Raggiana birds of paradise are maroon to brown, with a pale blue bill, and light brown feet. The males are more majestic than the females, with a yellow crown and collar, dark green throat, and long tail feathers, which range in color from red to orange. They are known for spectacular courtship displays — hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to stumble upon a lek!

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These are only a few of the hundreds of amazing birds that inhabit Papua New Guinea. To learn more, check out the Asia Membership, which provides in-depth information and images for most of the 1700+ species in Asia, including those of Papua New Guinea. However, there’s no better way to experience the avifauna of this nation than to go birding there yourself.

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In the Eye of the Storm:  How Birds Survive Hurricanes http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/06/22/eye-storm-birds-survive-hurricanes/ Sat, 23 Jun 2018 03:58:56 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=15475 By Juliana Smith Hurricane season strikes the Eastern seaboard of the United States every summer and, guess what? We’re in it right now! The season begins in June and runs through November, but as we here on the East Coast know, storms can arrive as early as April. While hurricanes often conjure images of wind-torn […]

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By Juliana Smith

Hurricane season strikes the Eastern seaboard of the United States every summer and, guess what? We’re in it right now! The season begins in June and runs through November, but as we here on the East Coast know, storms can arrive as early as April. While hurricanes often conjure images of wind-torn towns and flooded highways, their impacts on wildlife are less impressed upon human minds. However, wildlife also experience the forces we humans contend with, and birds are no strangers to hurricane season.

Being a lightweight, feathered animal has its perks (ahem, the ability to fly), but can also be incredibly debilitating when faced with extreme winds. Unfortunately, hurricane season coincides with Fall migration, so many birds are forced to face these powerful storms head-on. Yet, despite the odds, bird populations largely succeed at weathering the season. Of course, not every avian individual or community survives hurricanes, but in general, it appears birds have developed four tactics to help ease them through the stormy spells.

When a storm is on the rise and headed our way, we have weather forecasters and doppler radars to warn us of impending natural disaster. Birds, while not equipped with our high-tech gadgets, can sense that trouble is nigh when they pick up on the drops in air pressure that precede storms. Some birds take their cue and surf the headwinds of the hurricane, using them to get them out of dodge as quickly as possible. If conditions are right, migrating birds can even use the storm’s headwinds to get a wing up on their migratory journey.

Other birds, though, might use the eye of the storm as a refuge during a hurricane. This tactic seems to be especially popular with seafaring birds, though there’s no way to confirm their intent. Birds caught up in the storm might chance upon or follow winds to the eye where things are calm. Once there, they are effectively trapped, or “entrenched”, at the center of the hurricane and will follow it until the outer spiraling winds weaken, much to the delight of birders. Entrenched birds often wind up hundreds of miles from their home habitat, creating a fallout of rare sightings in inland habitats. Groups like Team Birdcast hope to utilize these events paired with eBird reports to better understand the relationship between hurricanes and birds.

Hurricane Hermine (2016) doppler radar imaging. The red blotching in the right image is a flock.

It’s important to understand that displaced birds shouldn’t be disturbed. While it is definitely better to be within the eye of the hurricane than be in the spiral, eye riding, as it’s sometimes called, isn’t exactly relaxing. It not only forces birds hundreds of miles from their home habitat, but can deprive them of food and rest for many days at a time. Those that survive until the storm dissipates then have to make a long return journey home. Even with the risks, though, it certainly seems safer to seek refuge in the eye than fight the storm.

And yet, some birds have done just that, flying directly through storms. We’ve only recently stumbled upon this behavior thanks to satellite transmitters and some spunky whimbrel . In 2011, researchers were astonished to find that one of their tracked subjects, a tagged whimbrel, had actually forced her way through Hurricane Irene. Since then, other members of the same species have been recorded using a similar tactic to survive hurricanes. Interestingly, researchers believe that migration is one of the factors allowing these whimbrels, and unknown others, to push through. Before migrating, birds will beef-up and pack on as many fat stores as possible to help supply them much-needed energy through their long migration routes. Researches believe it’s these fat stores that give some birds the power to fly straight through nature’s most wicked storms.

While some birds are skirting, riding, or cutting through hurricanes, others are hunkering down at home. Equipped with a clamping back toe, passerines are capable of weathering hurricanes by clinging to tree branches or seeking refuge in tree cavities. This author has even witnessed a small flock of house finches huddled under stowed kayaks to hide from Tropical Storm Irma in 2017. Tree clamping through a hurricane has its obvious risks, especially if your chosen branch is knocked from the tree (or your kayaks get flooded), but it also preserves fat stores and reduces risk of getting blown hundreds of miles from home.

In the end, different birds take different measures to survive hurricanes, but all of the methods showcase avian tenacity and perseverance. They truly are remarkable animals capable of seemingly impossible feats.

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Pollinator Citizen Science Projects: How You Can Help http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/05/29/pollinator-citizen-science-projects-can-help/ Tue, 29 May 2018 19:21:15 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=15197 All over the world, flowers mesmerize millions of people with their velvety, colorful petals, floral aromas, and gentle existence; and where there are flowers and sprouting leaves, there are often pollinators like bees and butterflies buzzing around. Growing up we often learn the importance of pollinators in our world. However, as our environmental state changes […]

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All over the world, flowers mesmerize millions of people with their velvety, colorful petals, floral aromas, and gentle existence; and where there are flowers and sprouting leaves, there are often pollinators like bees and butterflies buzzing around. Growing up we often learn the importance of pollinators in our world. However, as our environmental state changes with factors like climate change, greenhouse gases, and other ecosystemic fluctuations, the role of pollinators becomes strained and even more crucial.

Ways you can help…

According to a 2016 report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), 16 percent of vertebrate pollinators are threatened with global extinction, and more than 40 percent of invertebrate species are threatened in their specific regions. Across Western Europe and North America, a notable decline in wild pollinators is raising concerns among environmentalists, as 75 percent of the world’s food crops depend at least in part on pollination. Without a flourishing bee population, we run the risk of not being able to grow enough food to sustain ourselves.

Environmental efforts are attempting to combat the decline in pollinators by imposing laws that conserve the safety of bee colonies, such as preventing loss of habitat, pesticide exposure, diseases, and parasites. For the last several years, the decline of bees has been steadily climbing the list of pressing environmental issues. For this reason, environmental organizations are growing and there is a projected eight percent increase in job growth for environmental engineers. Wildlife conservation organizations are now also looking for the public’s help in collecting data on bees and butterflies, which is why they have commenced pollinator citizen science projects.

BirdsEye continues to help facilitate the ongoing efforts of two large citizen science projects…

Bumble Bee Watch is a project that focuses on the conservation of bumble bees– a highly visible pollinator that isconsidered essential to the health of ecosystems. This interactive website allows users to report sightings and engage with the collected data. The mobile application is built on BirdsEye’s field guide framework and allows users to easily identify the bumble bee species around them and quickly report sightings from the field. Click here to participate today!

Another similar project is the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper. It is a collaborative effort to map and better understand monarch butterflies and their host plants across the Western U.S. The Monarch Milkweed Mapper website is packed full of interesting and useful data about this widely-recognized and high-flying pollinator. Click here to join this project!

Factors Affecting Pollinators

As the human population grows, our environmental impact rises and spreads to affect more nature and wildlife. This is a reason for the increase in environmental conservation and sustainability in the last 20 years. We are using both renewable and non-renewable resources at demanding rates that require sustainability adjustments if we are to maintain basic necessities, like food and water, for the growing population. This means living with intention in our day-to-day use of resources, like one-time use plastics, energy, and even light — as light pollution is part of our environmental impact. We have a remarkable and extraordinary planet, and we must prioritize coexistence with nature and our fellow animals if we hope to support life here.

The U.S. has some of the best national parks in the world, containing millions of years worth of history and made up of ecologically sensitive areas. These, like the pollinators, are beginning to suffer at the hands of human carelessness. Ecosystems are sensitive; life is there now, the way that it is, because that is how it was created; slowly, like a wheel of many parts that makes it turn. Any small disturbance, even to something as seemingly insignificant as an insect or a plant can threaten the entire ecosystem, which is why it’s so crucial to learn to coexist and cause the least amount of harm to our surroundings.

National parks are beautiful to photograph, with their dreamy colors, incredible landscapes and luxurious views of nature. However, conservations efforts are crucial to maintaining their integrity. Yellowstone’s Morning Glory pool has been losing its fluorescent blue hugh throughout the last 20 years, as visitors of the park have thrown coins and other objects into its depths, clogging the complicated natural pipelines in the earth that release the minerals to give it its color. As with the pesticides that are harming bee colonies, adding unnatural substances to any ecosystem has the potential to compromise its existence.

It’s funny to imagine that life on earth hangs in the balance of bees, butterflies and other pollinators. While the future of pollinators and pollination is unclear, it’s certain that environmental organizations are putting forth a lot of effort to reverse the damage done to bee colonies and to prevent the extinction of any of their species. Pollinator citizen projects can help give wildlife and environmental conservation groups the information they need to plan their courses of action and to be more successful in their endeavors to save the declining bee populations. They are asking the public to help track them, and while participating can be a fun way to get involved, it’s also important to reflect on your own environmental impact and what you, as an individual, are doing to reduce your carbon footprint and help save the planet.

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Bird’s Eye: Best Canadian Birding Destinations http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/04/11/birds-eye-best-canadian-birding-destinations/ Wed, 11 Apr 2018 16:38:17 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=14761 By Avery T Phillips As the second largest country in the world and home to more than 680 species of birds, Canada is a bird lover’s paradise. Canada’s varied landscape has vast swaths of wilderness, rich with natural beauty. It also consists of forests, the Rocky Mountains, glaciers, swamps, rolling plains, and more lakes than […]

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By Avery T Phillips

As the second largest country in the world and home to more than 680 species of birds, Canada is a bird lover’s paradise.

Canada’s varied landscape has vast swaths of wilderness, rich with natural beauty. It also consists of forests, the Rocky Mountains, glaciers, swamps, rolling plains, and more lakes than any other country. It’s no wonder birds have made the Great White North their home.

Let’s take a look at five bird-watching sites that are perfect for avian enthusiasts and photographers alike. It’s time to go birding!

Point Pelee National Park

This national park is located in southwestern Ontario in Essex County where it extends 15 kilometers into Lake Eerie. Around 370 species have been spotted here. Pelee is French for “bald.”

“[Point Pelee National Park] is one of the most important bird watching locations in North America, playing host to songbirds during its annual northward migration during the spring and hawks during the fall,” says To Do Canada.

Because it’s the most well-known and frequented birding locations in Canada, expect Point Pelee National Park to be a busy place, especially during the Festival of Birds in May when people from all over come to watch the spring bird migrations.

The national park was named one of the top 15 birding spots in North America by Birder’s World magazine and is often known as the “Warbler capital of Canada.” It is a protected ecological region.

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve is the most easily accessible seabird colony in North America and is located about 2 hours southwest of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“This captivating area is one of seven protected seabird ecological reserves,” according to Newfoundland Labrador. “Its natural beauty makes it perfect for nature walks and family adventures.

Some of the seabird colonies include:

• Black-legged kittiwakes

• Northern gannets

• Thick-billed murres

• Lesser golden plovers

Long-tailed ducks

• Harlequins

• Razorbills

• Double-crested and great cormorants

Top tip from David M. Bird, emeritus professor of wildlife biology at McGill University: Visit the nearby bogs and fens that are home to willow ptarmigan and watch whales below the seaside cliffs. Bird is also the consulting editor for the best-selling books “Birds of Canada” and “Pocket Birds of Canada.”

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

In the Calgary area, there are many different bird-watching areas. The 36-hectare wildlife reserve has more than 2 kilometers of walking trails and over 1 kilometer of nature trails throughout the forest, plus a nature center to learn more about the sanctuary.

Within the city there are two major rivers: the Bow and the Elbow. There are three large creeks, Fish Creek, Nose Creek and West Nose Creek, and a large man-made lake called the Glenmore Reservoir.

While there are natural settings for birds within the city, each year the migration of birds is hindered by metropolitan areas, as we’ve discussed in a previous blog post about the effects of light pollution on urban birds. Urban areas can cause migrating birds to circle and investigate lit areas, which forces them to expend unnecessary energy en route to their destination.

Machias Seal Island

Machias Seal Island is a tiny, 18-acre island between New Brunswick and Maine. It’s a flat, treeless rock about 19 kilometers south of Grand Manan Island and 16 kilometers east of the Maine coast.

It’s a popular and unique sanctuary for many kinds of seabirds, including the Atlantic puffin and draws visitors from around the world to observe them in the summer. Access to the island is very limited, so plan in advance.

Machias Seal Island is home to a lighthouse, which during non-nesting season, the only occupants on the island are two lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse has been maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard for over 100 years.

Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia

Eagles abound in the rural farming community of Sheffield Mills, located about 100 kilometers northwest of Halifax. For about three months during the winter, area farmers leave chickens and other agricultural carrion for the birds of prey in some of the surrounding fields while birders flock to the area for the event.

“The feedings — of which there are two or three per day — are one reason the eagles are drawn to the region, as well as the Annapolis Valley’s slightly milder climate, which motivates birds from places like windswept Cape Breton to migrate there during the winter months,” according to an article on Toronto Metro.

Chucking chicken scraps to the eagles in Sheffield Mills is a tradition that goes back decades and is celebrated each year with a festival.

Hopefully some of these destinations have inspired you to add some Canadian bird-watching sites to your list. Canada’s beautiful landscapes and large expanses of wilderness are wonderful enough. If you’re a birder, it’s even better. And one thing is for sure: One of Canada’s greatest treasures is its birds.

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The Top 5 Birds to Watch for This Winter http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2018/02/16/top-5-birds-watch-winter/ Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:54:36 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=14215 The Top 5 Birds to Watch for This Winter   By Avery T Phillips Winter bird watching is always a treat for birders due to predictable migration patterns. Gregarious bird species migrate in flocks, creating beautiful and easily identifiable displays during the colder months. Winter bird watching can be chilly but well worth bearing the […]

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The Top 5 Birds to Watch for This Winter

 

By Avery T Phillips

Winter bird watching is always a treat for birders due to predictable migration patterns. Gregarious bird species migrate in flocks, creating beautiful and easily identifiable displays during the colder months. Winter bird watching can be chilly but well worth bearing the lower temperatures. Grab your phone and BirdsEye, and ensure that car is ready for the travels — put your all-weather tires on, check your spare has air, get an oil change and hit the road.

Local wildlife and bird reserves are spectacular places to visit with a thermos full of coffee and a day of birding. The following are the top five birds worth traveling for to see this winter.

1.   Snow Bunting

photo of snow buntingThe Snow Bunting calls the arctic tundra home during the summer months but travels to the northern United States during the winter. These sparrow-sized birds build their nests in rock crevices that they line with the grasses, fur, moss and feathers they find. They travel and forage in large numbers, making them highly visible in large open fields.

Females camouflage easily with the winter snow with their white chest and light brown wings. In the fall, you will see the males molting to achieve their striking black and white breeding colors. They will rub their wing tips against the snow to shed their brown tips to become completely black on their back and wings, keeping their pure white chest intact.

2. Evening Grosbeak

This finch can typically be seen as a flash of yellow against green conifer forests of the north throughout the summer. As the weather starts to turn colder they move to the southern states in search of food and warmer temperatures.

These big-chested finches can often be spotted at your bird feeder for those that live in the southern half of the states. The males are strikingly colored with a bright yellow eyebrow streak and body. The females’ coloring is more subtle, but they do have a flamboyant green beak to marvel at. Enjoy the sightings of these birds when you can because they have become increasingly rare as their numbers have been steadily dropping for years.

3. Snowy Owl

Large irruptions of this majestic bird occur every 3 to 5 years — the last big irruption was in 2013-2014, where they came down from the arctic to areas as far south as Florida. What makes the sighting of this owl noteworthy is that they are the largest of the owl family (by weight). They have catlike eyes and have been made popular with children through the Harry Potter films.

They travel south from their remote breeding grounds of the arctic to hunt in the northern half of the states. It can be difficult to spot an older male in a snowy landscape as they become paler and almost entirely white as they mature. The females tend to have a more salt-and-pepper coloring that makes them more available to the birding eye.

4. Northern Goshawk

At the top of the food chain and an indicator species, these birds can be seen year round in the Rockies but tend to be more active in the winter as food becomes scarce. They frequent the mid to northern portion of the Rocky Mountains. This predatory bird is one of the larger species of hawks and feeds on rabbits, squirrels and other birds found in the Rockies.

If you are wanting to catch a sight of a Norther Goshawk, look up. You will typically find them in the canopy of conifer and boreal forests searching for prey. Up there you will find these steel-grey winged birds with gleaming red eyes. Due to their speed and maneuverability, watching them hunt is an impressive show of skill and precision.

5. Snow Geese

These geese will likely be found congregating in the same places as their more common relative, the Canadian Goose. You can find this abundant species in colonies in many different areas throughout North America. They are most often found in western California, the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, the coast from New Jersey to North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska and throughout the southwest.

When these high-flying birds fill the sky, they look like large snowflakes about to come raining down upon the earth. This species is dimorphic and comes in two different colors: blue and white. The dark allele (blue) is dominant to the light (white). Once you catch sight of a flock, you can sit and enjoy them for quite some time. They are a foraging species and will spend an enduring length of time in a single area before moving on.

Staying at Home

If you don’t feel like traveling for this year’s fall and winter bird watching, simply travel to your backyard. Wild birds appreciate the feeders that you set up in your yard and will likely visit them to stockpile on energy reserves before making their migration south. You may be lucky enough to live in an area that you can see one of the five birds listed above from your kitchen window.

Backyard feeders are also helpful to migratory birds passing through when food sources start to become scarce and provide a readily available, nutrient-dense meal. If you create a continuous supply, birds will imprint on the location and return in the fall or keep around winter species all season long.

Some of the best items to include in your backyard feeder during the fall and winter are:

  • Nuts
  • Nyjer
  • Millet
  • Corn
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Suet

Until Next Year

You can plan out your route to move across the northern United States using BirdsEye to catch a sight of all five of the wintering birds that come to spend their time there. When you return from your trip in the late fall and early winter, make sure to winterize your RV, car or truck so that you are ready to hit the road in time to catch the spring migration. Happy winter trails and bird watching!

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BirdsEye Sound Files & Audio Collections http://www.birdseyebirding.com/2017/11/07/birdseye-sound-files-audio-collections/ Tue, 07 Nov 2017 18:24:45 +0000 http://www.birdseyebirding.com/?p=13237 Some of the more frequent questions coming into our Help Desk (support@getbirdseye.com) are about the audio collections and sound files in BirdsEye.  Bird sound files are included for almost all species of North American birds, but generally if you are interested in calls and songs for birds outside of North America the additional purchase of […]

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Some of the more frequent questions coming into our Help Desk (support@getbirdseye.com) are about the audio collections and sound files in BirdsEye.  Bird sound files are included for almost all species of North American birds, but generally if you are interested in calls and songs for birds outside of North America the additional purchase of an audio collection is required.

Key Points about BirdsEye Audio Collections

  • Audio collections are a one-time purchase that includes the sound files for the area, plus access to eBird sightings, images and text for the species that are covered in the sound package. An additional membership for the region is not needed.
  • Audio collections are available for the following countries and regions:
  • Rather than a separate app these are collections of sound files that are accessed and played using BirdsEye by tapping the sound icon.
  • When purchasing on our website (BirdsEyeBirding.com) there is also an option to buy sound package with mp3 format as well as the BirdsEye extension. This option is for users who want to use sound files with third party sound management applications that can be played on a PC or mobile device outside of BirdsEye.

Costa Rica
Australia
Mexico
Peru

Columbia
Brazil
Peninsular Malaysia

Nicaragua
Belgium and Holland
Venezuela
Northern Siberia

Audio Collections

The North America bird library in BirdsEye includes bird sounds provided through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library. BirdsEye pays royalties to the Library in order to offer these sounds to you. Unfortunately the royalties for bird sounds outside of North America would put the price of a BirdsEye membership out of reach for many of our customers. In order to keep these memberships affordable we decided to not include sounds with them. However, audio collections are available as an additional purchase for many regions

We are excited to work with the fantastic bird recordists at BirdSounds.nl to offer their extensive audio collections through the BirdsEye app. The sounds are accessed within BirdsEye, which you can download for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. They are available to you when you login BirdsEye with your username (your email address) and password. Just tap the speaker icon next to the bird and all the songs and calls for that bird will be shown.

Purchasing sound collections also gives you access to eBird sightings, images and text for the species that are included in the sound package at no additional cost. If you aren’t already using BirdsEye, simply download the free version of BirdsEye from the App Store or Google play and purchase the sound files as an in-app purchase. or at a discount through our website. **register with the same email address you used to make this purchase. Your purchased sound package will be at your fingertips. No additional purchase is necessary.

How Audio Collections Work In BirdsEye

Purchasing an audio collection gives you access to a large library of bird sounds, all within BirdsEye. It also gives you access to the BirdsEye images and text, as well as the eBird data available for the species that are included in the package.

You can download a collection to your mobile device for offline use and remove it to free up space as often as you wish. You can access this package on your Apple or Android mobile device, so long as they are all registered to your BirdsEye account.

To download all of the sounds for offline use, just go to “Settings” and then choose “Download for Offline”. Enjoy!

How to Purchase one of the Audio Collections

There are two ways:

1) Purchase an audio collection as an in-app purchase within BirdsEye

From the BirdsEye home screen, choose the “Memberships and Audio Guides” (Apple) or “Store – Field Guides and Audio” (Android) option. Scroll to the audio collection for the region you are interested in, select it and follow the prompts to purchase through your iTunes or Google Play accounts.

2) Purchase an audio collection from our website BirdsEyeBirding.com

You can also purchase audio collections at a discount from our website: choose the BirdsEye Bird Guide option form the main menu and then select “Audio Collections” from the menu.  Next, choose the collection you would like to purchase. After selecting the audio collection, there is a dialog box labeled “How would you like to download and access this sound collection?”. You can choose to access the sound files “through BirdsEye on your phone”, or “As an MP3 download (also includes access through BirdsEye app). The second option includes the audio collection in an mp3 format as well as the BirdsEye extension. This option is for users who want to use sound files with third party sound management applications that can be played on a PC or mobile device outside of BirdsEye.

How to Access an Audio Collection

Once you have purchased a audio collection on the site, here is how to access it on your device:

1) If you don’t already have BirdsEye, download it to your mobile device (for free) from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
2) Register or login to BirdsEye using the same email address you used for your purchase and your sound collections will be immediately available within BirdsEye, just tap the speaker icon for any of the listed species.
3) You can download the sound collection for offline use, or access it via the internet as you need it to save space. It’s up to you. You can clear the sounds from your device and download as many times as you want.

Just contact the BirdsEye Help Desk if you have any questions or trouble getting set up. We are happy to help!

Remember, you can focus in on just the birds in a specific sound package or membership group. In the Search by Name section, select the “funnel” icon in the upper right, scroll to the “Bird Sounds of Mexico” or whatever the region, and tap it. That should put you back on the “Search” page with just those birds listed.

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