I value the skills of amateur and professional birders alike. Birders can make great contributions to knowledge of birds and the environment while still enjoying birds as recreation. One role I enjoy is volunteering as an eBird reviewer. I also share all of my bird data with eBird and I encourage others to archive their data as well.
Perhaps I am a bit of a throwback to the days when a deep knowledge of natural history was held in high esteem. Developing that knowledge is one reason I value contributing to Oregon State University’s educational program, which still offers courses on birds, mammals, herps and fishes. I value the development of expertise in field identification of birds by sight and sound. It takes a sophisticated mind to master field identification and a strong will and discipline to archive quality observations in eBird. Those are all good characteristics to possess!
Some of my “birdy” projects include a study of the birds across Benton County, Oregon, to evaluate questions about beta diversity and other patterns of bird diversity; and detailed studies of the birds of Barro Colorado Island, Panama. I also collaborate with students on topics of the science of birding, such as testing the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect and understanding How Long Rare Birds Stay once they have been found by birders.
NEWS! We are working on a Corvallis-area Breeding Bird Survey based on hiking routes. It is being co-created with members of our local birding community. The aim is to augment the sparse number of BBS routes that are in the Willamette Valley, just by chance. And to get us off the roads. Should leave a great legacy for our future citizens and be a lot of fun in the process!
For those who like regional bird books, I updated my 1996 book, Southern Illinois Birds. The new book is Birds of Southern Illinois (2018) and is published online for free access to all. It is a “live” book in the sense that I can easily update it as regionally important records appear, unlike a print version that is out of date before it reaches an audience. I value where I grew up, and I hope this gift will be appreciated by those who currently live in my former stomping grounds.
Lingering in the fog on Marys Peak, just west of Corvallis, Oregon, this Lapland Longspur was foraging and resting, 22 September 2017. Lapland Longspurs pass through regularly during the last half of September and first half of October, often being detected only by their distinctive rattling calls as they fly overhead. It’s a real treat to find one as tame as this in our area.