...and clear skies followed for several days after the passage of each front:
As a teenager working towards a Boy Scout merit badge I started keeping daily logs of bird sightings. I still have my old records, and I enjoy re-living some of the sightings.
The habit of carrying a pencil and a pocket-sized spiral notebook did not persist for very long, and even the notes I made about first or unusual bird sightings became more and more sketchy, finally deteriorating to date, name of bird and place-- the latter sometimes ambiguous.
I assumed I would always remember the exact location of "Charlie's Woods," "up at Camp" and "down the river," but now they do not exist. These are the entries for my first ten weeks of birding (Don't the rubber-stamped dates lend an air of authenticity?):
Stopping to take notes interfered with the joy of birding, and diverted my attention away from the sky and surroundings, possibly depriving me of exciting sightings.
Fast forward to the electronic revolution and the age of eBird. After moving to Florida I readily adapted to using this Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology iPhone application to report my sightings. Yet there remained a certain nuisance factor, as I still had to stop and occupy both hands to punch in and update sightings.
After all, with snakes and fire ants to contend with, I was already looking down half the time just to walk from place to place. Then I found out that I could use the iPhone speech recognition feature. The eBird filter should be set to species expected locally. This will limit the matches to a single species or a select few.
Talking to the eBird app requires one to adopt a spartan language style. Use as few syllables as necessary. Speak distinctly, sounding every consonant. If you don't, your "Osprey" becomes "odd spray." Better to say "OHspray."
Say "Mottled Duck" too fast and it comes out "Matilda," or fail to pronounce the "TT" results in "modeled," neither of which matches a species in the eBird database. Ths Mottled Duck is in the company of a Black-necked Stilt (for which "black, hyphen, neck" will suffice for eBird):
A White Ibis must be called a "hWyte ibis" lest it become "what I best."
Never use plurals, as they will be translated to possessives such as dove's and sparrow's. Goose matches many species while geese does not. Keep it short and simple. "Egyptian" is all you need to say to call up the Egyptian Goose:
"European" is enough to auto-complete the Starling...
...and "Loggerhead" matches the only bird in our local list. The local filter produces the Shrike but ignores the rare Loggerhead Kingbird (and Turtle):
There is no such bird as a bluejay, so say "Blue, Jay:"
Make sure the syllables are run together where appropriate, so that your "kingfisher" does not summon an unrecognized "King Fisher." Only the Belted Kingfisher is selected in south Florida, while you may need to choose from a list of kingfishers in south Texas or Latin America:
Say "hyphen" when there is one in a bird's name -- it's a "red, hyphen, bell" if you want to report a Red-bellied Woodpecker in Florida (the filter in the western US would turn up a sapsucker!):
Truncating the names actually improves accuracy. For example, "boat, hyphen, tail" is enough for Boat-tailed Grackle:
"Tricolored" will match the Heron by that first name, if you do not improperly add a hyphen:
Don't worry if "Mourning Dove" comes out "Morning Dove," as eBird will automatically spell-check it and enter it properly:
The eBird app's artificial intelligence (AI) also automatically drops the "e" in "Downey" Woodpecker:
However, eBird seems to ignore a British flair, and refuses to match your Gray Catbird, which Apple's AI insists on spelling as "grey," so simply say "catbird," (but not "cat, bird") to enter it correctly:
Similarly, to keep the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher from defaulting to unacceptable "grey," simply say "blue, hyphen, letter G."
The correct species will pop up if you leave off "Heron" and just say "Great, Blue"...
...or "Little, Blue:"
"Red hyphen shoulder" is enough for the Red-shouldered Hawk:
I could go on and on, but if you haven't used speech recognition with the eBird app, try it and you may like it! This feature also simplifies addition of species comments and other observations about weather and habitat.
Oh, and some bird names, notably "vireo" for me, will never be properly recognized, although "white hyphen letter E" will match with the White-eyed Vireo...
...and "red hyphen letter R" brings up the Red-eyed Vireo:
If all else fails, go back to punching in the full name or its four-letter banding code, but watch where you step!
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display