I've still got a few Fox Sparrows, too. I can't ever remember waking up to them 
singing in my yard for over a week before. It always seemed that a few would be 
present a few days in the spring and fall, and that was it.

No doubt our lingering winter is to blame. They don't go far south for the 
winter, but they go pretty far north to breed, so it makes sense that they 
should be aware of local weather and be cautious before they make the final 

A fun new addition to the Merlin app (free!) for your phone is that when you 
browse birds in a specific area, you see bar charts of the likelihood of 
occurrence for the whole calendar year. You can find the same information in 
eBird, but it takes more finagling to find it there. In Merlin, go to "Explore 
Birds" from the main screen, go up to the icon at the top that looks like lines 
and spots, click "Likely Birds," then filter by your current location and date. 
I suggest using "Family - Most Likely." That puts all the sparrows together, 
all the ducks, etc. Scroll down to the sparrows, and there, 11th on the list is 
Fox Sparrow. You can see by the bar chart that it's never abundant, but that 
it's usually seen in March and April, and that we're getting to the end of the 
narrow window when they normally occur.

If you browse the sparrows, you see that the next most/least likely sparrow 
here this time of year is White-crowned. But, comparing the two bar charts 
shows that Fox Sparrows should be on their way out, while White-crowns should 
just be coming in.

Also interesting, if you browse farther down the list, is that we have just 
gone through the peak time of Vesper Sparrow reports. And, unlike the other two 
species, they breed here! But, apparently they show up more on eBird checklists 
during April as they arrive and can't get to their breeding grounds yet, what 
with the snow and all, and show up in parking lots and roadsides the way they 
have done this last week or two. There have been dozens of Vesper Sparrow 
reports all over the county this last week and a half, and that perfectly 
reflects the bar chart in Merlin based on ebird checklists.

I've been a half-hearted endorser of Merlin over the last few years because, 
frankly, I don't need the help identifying birds. But, the app is becoming much 
more than what it started as, and it's growing all the time. It's now one of 
the fastest and easiest portals to finding what birds are to be expected at a 
specific time of year, pretty much everywhere in the world. Soon it is going to 
be a reference source for birds all over the world, with photos, songs, and 
maps. Already it covers all of the US and Canada, Mexico, and most of Central 
America, as well as parts of Colombia and northwestern Europe. And it's growing 
every day.

I did a West Coast business trip in February, and I used Merlin to tell me what 
birds to expect in the places I visited. I went to Oregon, and Merlin told me 
that Acorn Woodpeckers would be common in Medford, west of the Cascade 
Mountains, but would be rare in Klamath Falls, east of the mountains. It told 
me that I'd be seeing California Quail all along most of my drive to San Diego, 
but when I went to Joshua Tree National Park, I would be seeing Gambel's Quail.

So, just a head's up to the birding community. The Cornell Lab's Merin app is 
not just some cute toy for beginners. (Although, it did get my bird-averse 
sister to start liking looking at birds.) It's becoming a powerful tool for 
traveling birders to use all over the world. Currently, it only has photos, 
maps, and information for the areas I mentioned above. But, it already can give 
you a list of the most likely birds you will see anywhere on earth. Well, 
anywhere there are eBird checklists. But, every eBird checklist you put in from 
some exotic locale helps the program refine its results and improve the 
accuracy of its predictions. And, every photo you upload to an eBird checklist 
from a foreign location gets Merlin closer to being able to identify that 
species from photos, and closer to having photos available in the app.

Latin America has an avid and active birding presence, so we can expect big 
strides there in the near future. But, it also has the most diverse and complex 
suite of birds on the planet, so, that's a hurdle. I personally hope that 
southern and eastern Europe will be covered completely soon (I have a trip 
there scheduled in late June), but it seems that India is going to jump ahead 
in the line ahead of other expected regions.

Indian birders have enthusiastically embraced eBird the last couple of years, 
and they're pumping sightings and photos into the database. I spoke to someone 
in Oregon at the bird festival I was attending (Winter Wings) who was from 
India. He wanted to show me his photos from birding in India (very nice), and I 
told him to put them into checklists in eBird because every photo uploaded for 
a species (especially good ones like his) put Merin a step closer to getting 
the identification program to being able to ID it, but also that every photo 
gets the bird guide portion closer to being able to offer it to the regular 
folks. He responded that he thought that was awesome, and that he knew that the 
people in the bird clubs in India would be excited to contribute.

So, as New Yorkers say, Excelsior! Ever upward! Honestly, I've been birding 
since the lat 1960s and early 1970s, about 50 years. There has never been such 
a great time to be a birder as right now. You can get spectacular binoculars 
and scopes for relatively cheap. Birding references are abundant (including the 
courses I've created at https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/course-list/). You 
can find out almost real-time information about what rare birds are where. You 
have information on your phone about what birds are likely anywhere on earth, 
and you can actually have your phone make a tentative identification from a 
photo you took with that phone. As he said in the Princess Bride, 
"Inconceivable!" We may very well be living in the best of all conceivable 


Ithaca, NY

Learn More About Birds with These Courses | Bird Academy 
Learn More About Birds with These Courses. Broaden your understanding of birds 
with courses for all knowledge levels. Learn everything—from birding basics to 
comprehensive ornithology

From: bounce-122493967-3493...@list.cornell.edu 
<bounce-122493967-3493...@list.cornell.edu> on behalf of Carol Keeler 
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2018 6:58 PM
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Fox Sparrows

I now have 2 Fox Sparrows!  They’ve been here for two days now. I had one about 
five years ago which stayed for minutes.  I don’t get great numbers of birds 
like you do in the Ithaca area.  I’m delighted.
I also just had a flock of Cedar Waxwings sitting in a tall maple.  Now and 
then they would hawk insects .

Sent from my iPad


Cayugabirds-L List Info:

1) http://www.mail-archive.com/cayugabirds-l@cornell.edu/maillist.html
2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds
3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html

Please submit your observations to eBird:



NYSbirds-L List Info:

1) http://www.mail-archive.com/nysbirds-l@cornell.edu/maillist.html
2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L
3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01

Please submit your observations to eBird:


Reply via email to