Delaware Backyard Birding Challenge

A new calendar year for many birders sometimes means starting a new year-list.  Some birders list birds they find for the year in a state, county, local patch, or even an entire country.  One of the easiest ways that you can build a fun year-list is to create one for your yard.  DOS sponsors a Delaware Backyard Birding Challenge each calendar year, and we encourage everyone to participate. All you have to do is go birding in your yard and report your sightings to www.ebird.org where the results will be kept, and can be viewed throughout the year. This is probably the “greenest” way to bird, since no fossil fuel burning is needed.

Not all yards are created equal in terms of bird attracting qualities, so we understand that if you live next to Bombay Hook, your list will be considerably higher than if you live in a town or city.  Maybe this is some incentive to plant bird-attracting trees and shrubs, creating a “brushy” area, or setting up a good feeding station.  Improving bird habitat in your yard will certainly benefit your list as well as the birds in your community, and it is fun to see wildlife using the plantings and features you have worked hard to install.

The results can always be seen at www.ebird.org and clicking “explore data” and “yard totals”.  Not everyone has a yard with the potential to attract that many species, but it is still fun to see how many you can find.  If you spend some time looking for birds just outside your door, you might be surprised by what you encounter.  By sharing your lists with eBird, you are contributing your sightings to science, conservation, and the greater understanding of bird distributions.  See below for the contest rules, and we encourage your participation.  See the current results for this year’s Backyard Birding Challenge in Delaware.

Here are the rules:

  1. Any species your see or hear while you are physically in your yard counts towards your species total.
  2. Fly-overs count. (This may be how you get your best birds!)
  3. The contest is for each calendar year.
  4. Yards are divided into the following categories: (a) apartments (window and balcony birding only); (b) yards less than 1-acre; (c) yards 1-5 acres; and (d) yards greater than 5-acres.
  5. Enter your sightings into www.ebird.org.
  6. Here is how to set up and name your yard: Go birding in your yard for the first time. Afterwards, visit www.ebird.org. If you don’t have an account, set up your free personal account. Go to “Submit Observations” and find your house on the map. Mark that location and name your location “Your last name Yard” and put the letter that pertains to the size of your yard at the end. Enter your sightings and submit them. Additionally, the first time you do this, you need to “Add Your Yard” so that ebird knows you want it to show in the “Yard Results” section for Delaware. Just go to the “Explore Data” tab in ebird. Click “Yard Totals” then click “Add a Yard”, click your yard name from your list of locations, and save it. Your yard totals will now show in the “Yard Totals” section, and everyone will be able to see where your yard sightings rank for the year, month, and overall yard life-list total. You won’t have to “Add Your Yard” after you do it the first time, as ebird will automatically update your totals!

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