Friday, December 13, 2013

What's A Party-Hour and a Party-Mile?

On the Final Tally Sheet, each team has to report not only the totals of every species in their area, but a few other tidbits of information.

Two that confound many are the Party-Hour and the Party-Mile. This information is combined with bird numbers to help normalize the data for statistical analysis.

Think about it: If a group of 25 people bird in one group in Reid Park for an hour, how many species will they see? What if you divide them into five groups of five, each group covering a different area of the park for an hour – then how many will they see? We know that the five groups of five will see more than the one group of 25, even though you have 25 people birding for an hour in each case.

This illustrates the party-hour. In the first example, there is one party hour. One party (of 25) birding for one hour. In the second case, we end up with five party-hours. Each party of five people birding for an hour logs their own one party-hour.

So if you have a group of 4 people in your CBC area, you're one party of 4 if you stick together. But if you split up (out of voice range, essentially), then you become multiple parties, and you have to keep track of how much time you spend apart.

Party-miles works the same way, but in the example above, you don't know how far they traveled. A group of 25 birders probably won't move as much as a group of five, so you can't just assume that you've just quintupled some assumed distance. There might have been 0.5 party-mile in the first example and 3.5 party miles in the second.

For a concrete example, let's just take your group of 4, and say you split into two couples for 1 hour. One couple walks all around a (Tucson) block, logging 2 miles in the effort. The other group of two does a circuit through the Tucson Botanical Garden, doing a lot of standing and looking, logging no more than 0.1 of a mile. Here your team has logged two party hours and 2.1 party-miles – just add them together. Clear as mud? It's the responsibility of the Area Leader to fill this all in, but whoever in the team is most able to keep track and calculate this information should volunteer to do it.

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