eBird, as you might know, is an electronic data collection service receiving input from tens of thousands of North American birders. Birders can report what they see — species, numbers, and location, on the spot — directly to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with a cell phone.
Collecting information has rarely been this easy or complete.
That data has been worked into an interesting set of bird-status reports by the Cornell Lab, originator and manager of the data base.
Information submitted by birders, and organized by Cornell, shows you animated migration patterns, species population ups and downs, and a list of other fascinating facts about bird movement, range, and numbers.
Cornell presently has on-line data for 107 North American bird species, including many we see in Minnesota.
Trumpeter Swan is a good example. The map showing abundance makes clear the success of Minnesota’s swan reintroduction project.
(Begun in the 1960s with eggs from Montana and Alaskan swans, the project raised and released swans into the 1980s. Nesting documented in 1998 the first Trumpeter Swan nesting in Minnesota in nearly 80 years.)
The Cornell map shows heavy swan presence in northwestern Washington state, the greater Rocky Mountain area, and in Minnesota. Our population is heaviest in the metro area.
Cornell shows us that in the breeding season 13 percent of continental swans are here.
eBird’s data page lists 107 species about which you can learn:
Abundance, map and animation by season.
Migration patterns animated by season.
The latter is what I found most interesting. Let’s check Eared Grebe. The map shows those birds leaving wintering sites on the Gulf and in Mexico and moving right up the center of the U.S. to major nesting areas in North Dakota, Montana, and the Canadian provinces to their north.
Minnesota gets a smattering of nesting grebes in the western portion of the state, mid-state to the Canadian border.
Checking regional stats on population numbers we learn that in breeding season we have two percent of the continent’s Eared Grebes. North Dakota has 17 percent, Montana a similar amount. Canada accounts for the a majority of nesting birds.
Tree Swallows, common throughout the state, winter on the Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantic coasts, covering the continent in migration. The map for breeding trends here shows a modest population decline.
Chimney Swifts are shown to be common throughout the state with the exception of northeast, the Arrowhead. They are most common in our urban areas.
And so on. Find all of this information at ebird.org/science/status-and-trends.
The first map below shows a spring migration pattern for Sandhil Cranes, the second mid-summer dispersal of those birds. The maps are animated, showing movement of the birds. Maps are taken from the Cornell eBird status and trends web site.