Halifax River Audubon
Halifax River Audubon A Florida Chapter of the National Audubon Society
Serving The Greater Daytona Beach Area

Summer Bird Challenge


Track Those Birds! A Citizen Science Opportunity

That was the headline of an article in the New York Times on My 18th. In the article they wrote, “This summer, we’re inviting readers around the world to participate in a science project we are working on with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We’ll be gathering observations about the birds around us, filling in data gaps and giving researchers a clearer picture of biodiversity in places that birders frequent less. It’s important work. Nearly half of all bird species worldwide are known or suspected to be in decline, and climate change could accelerate this trend. By gathering data like this, you’ll help inform decisions about the conservation and study of birds.”

For the full article click the link below - if you do not have a subscription, you may be permitted to view the article as a guest, or you may be blocked. All of the information to participate will be posted here. Through September, emails will be sent with information on getting started and updates on the progress of the experiment. If you are an eBird or Merlin user, you are more than halfway there.

 New York Times Birding Challenge


Here is the welcome email that was sent out upon signing up


We’re thrilled that you joined The New York Times birding project.

Here’s what to do next.

1. Download free apps from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

  • If you’re unfamiliar with how to identify birds, download Merlin Bird ID, which is a great training tool and reference. Use this app to learn how to make identifications. 

  • If you have experience identifying birds, download eBird, which will enable you to send your observations to the Cornell Lab's database. You can still rely on Merlin to help with identification, but you need eBird to submit your data. 

2. Learn how to use the apps!

Merlin and eBird can seem like a lot if you’re using them for the first time.

Get started with Merlin here . And use this to get started with eBird.

3. Go birding!

New to birding?

We’ll be sending you prompts over the summer to guide you. To start, go birding near your home. Take note of the birds around you for at least 15 minutes. 

  • Use the Merlin app to identify birds you see and hear. The app’s Sound ID feature can help you pick out birds by their vocalizations.

  • Report back! Let us know what you find — and what you could use help with —in the comments here.

Already have some birding experience?

We’re asking you to prioritize contributing observations in eBird from areas that are visited less frequently. We know it’s tempting to bird repeatedly at your favorite parks, beaches and nature preserves. But as part of this project, we’re aiming to help fill in gaps that scientists at the Cornell Lab have identified. 

Consider submitting eBird checklists from:

  • Non-recreational open spaces.

    Is that sidewalk tree a popular spot for house sparrows? Is that wetland behind a nearby Walmart teeming with life? Try there!

  • Areas away from roads.

  • Most birding checklists occur close to roads. The farther you can get from them, the better. 

  • Farms and fields.

    Rural agricultural areas are some of the least-birded habitats. Submit checklists from public roads adjacent to crop fields, livestock grazing lands and other cultivated areas. 

  • Areas between eBird “Hotspots.”

    Use the “Explore” tab in the eBird app to find nearby “Hotspots” — shared locations where other birders have submitted observations. Go birding in areas between or far from those Hotspots.

  • Areas with few observations of a particular species.

    What’s a common bird species in your area? Look up past reports of that species on the eBird Species Map and zoom in on your city. Then, visit areas without any previous observations of that species, and file a checklist.

When you submit a checklist in eBird, be sure to add #NYT in the comments section. This will let us know that your observation was part of this project.

Report back! To connect with other participants, check out our comments section, and tell us: How did you become interested in birding?

We remind all participants in this project to be mindful of the safety of themselves and others and to be respectful of the natural world.

Please see here for answers to frequently asked questions.

Until next week!