Thursday, November 22, 2012

Circle Re-hauled: Out of Nine, Twenty-five

The Tucson Valley CBC circle has traditionally been divided into nine sectors. In recent years, with an increasing number of birders, Larry Liese found that each needed to be subdivided, and he created about 20 sections, a big improvement. In my experience in coordinating CBC's over the past 18 years (and participating on them for 25 years), I've found that area boundaries are more effective with the participant in mind, rather than for the ease of the compiler in drawing them. So I've looked at available habitat and despite my plans on keeping things mostly the same, have completely redrawn the boundaries and made 25 areas. One of the biggest changes is that I've divided the Santa Cruz River and Rillito River (some of the best habitat for diversity) into smaller chunks adjacent to upland or urban habitats to "share the wealth."

I'm going to try to keep people assigned to the general region where they were last year, but with approximately 50% of the participants being new to the circle, this is a good year to be having some new area boundaries. I'm always hoping to accommodate any wishes, but I've tried to make each area interesting with some hot spots and a chance of finding something good. More on some of these areas in upcoming blogs.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Be A Feeder Watcher!

It's easy, it's fun, and it's free. Here's how:

1. First, you have to live in the Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count Circle. If you can't see from the above map (which you can click on for a larger version), go this version of the circle on Google Maps:

2. Sign up in advance so the compiler knows that you're doing it. This year it is Rich Hoyer, birdernaturalist AT me DOT com.

3. Identify and count the birds in your yard whenever convenient throughout the day on December 16, 2012. Just estimate the  maximum total, not a running total. If I see four male Broad-billed Hummingbirds in my yard in the morning, then a female later in the day, I would count that as total of 5, though there may be as many as 10 in the yard during a typical day. If I see a maximum of 15 Lesser Goldfinches in the morning, then six in the afternoon, the total would be 15, as I wouldn't be able to tell if the afternoon birds were the same or different. It's not an exact science or a census of the birds – it's a rough index of what's in the circle with a given amount of observer effort.

4. Estimate how many minutes you spent watching birds in your yard. That's the effort part.

5. Come to the countdown potluck to join in the final species tally for the day. Find out what other birders found while covering their sectors and share your best bird of the day.

6. Then in the following days, the compiler enters all the data to come up with a final official species count, total individual numbers, and writes up a summary to compare it with previous years. This will be emailed to all participants, it will appear in the TAS newsletter, the Vermilion Flycatcher, and the data will go into National Audubon's online database.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Viewing The CBC Circle On Your Smart Phone!

As of November 2014, the following doesn't seem to be valid any more. But this new link will take you to an online map of the circle and the areas:
This is really cool, but it only works if:

1. You have a Google account (free, easy)

2. You have a smart phone, like an iPhone (easy, but no so free)


3. You have a cell phone signal. (Good luck in most of the Atascosa Highlands...)

But if you meet these conditions, you can go online and see the edge of this CBC circle in Google maps. You need the following link to navigate to the public map with the circle that I created in my own Google "My places" account, but you need to click on it from within your smart phone. So if you're at your laptop or desktop, copy this link and paste it in an email to yourself. Open that email on your phone and click on the link.

If you're not logged into your Google account, do so.

Add this to your maps by saving to "My places."

This is all very new to me, so let me know how this works and if I need to add any information.