Field Notes for OBA Membership Review

Explanatory statement about these Field Notes compiled by Paul Sullivan.

These notes are summaries of the birds reported all across Oregon in the Winter 2022-23 and Spring 2023 seasons.  They are drawn from the records of eBird using a tool provided by David Cahlander of Minnesota.   It is an effort to boil down a mass of data to a digestible form.

For the Spring 2023 Field Notes, I compiled the data in two formats: a text document with a listing of the counties, high counts, and summary numbers, and an Excel spreadsheet which doesn’t handle the counties in such close detail, but puts the numbers in columns where it is easier to compare species. See also this Winter 2023 text document.

I believe Field Notes should cover all the state, cover all the species – both rare and common — and include the reports of all birders.  This is an aspiration.  We cannot get everyone to report, no matter the mechanism.  We will miss some species and miss some regions that are poorly reported.

Compiling Field Notes in this fashion in a print journal creates an archive summary of the birds seen in our time, a record for future generations to be able to review.

I think Field Notes are more readable in a format where each species is given a heading, followed by the data on that species.

For each species, Field Notes should tell us:

  • Where the species occurs (which counties, area)
  • How relatively numerous the species is (high counts, average # sightings per outing)
  • What time window it appears
  • Who found the rare birds or notable numbers of a species.

For each season, the summary tool provides:

  • A map showing the counties were the species was reported during the season
  • Notes on new county records
  • High count numbers reported in individual checklists
  • Summary numbers: # of checklists. Total # individual birds, # observers reporting the species
  • First and last date the species was seen in the season

Over time such notes will tell us about range expansion, species in trouble, etc.

Examples from the text format:

Brant Found in 7 western counties: Tillamook, Lincoln, Coos, Curry, Columbia, Polk, Benton.

White-headed Woodpecker Found in 6 counties: Jackson, Jefferson, Deschutes, Klamath, Harney, Baker.

Cackling Goose. High counts: 24000, 12/20, Benton, Finley NWR, W. Douglas Robinson

8718 checklists, average 326 birds per checklist, 1233 observers

Common Redpoll  Found in Wallowa county. High counts: 15, 12/29,

3 checklists, 35 sightings (birds) reported by 3 observers. Reported 12/26 – 12/29.

PINE WARBLER   Found in Klamath county. Third state record. 1, 1/9, Klamath, Lake Ewauna–North Shore Trail, Dave Haupt, Kevin Spencer, Elijah Hayes.

51 checklists, 51 sightings reported by 44 observers. Reported 1/9 – 2/28.

Examples from the Excel format:


Some Highlights:

Note how many warblers Tim Rodenkirk found in south coast neighborhoods in the Winter and Spring.

Note the high counts of Common Murres and Coots.  Compare the number of Western and Clark’s Grebes.

Compare the footprint of Pacific Wren and Varied Thrush, or Sage Thrasher and Brewer’s Sparrow..

Which county missed Lesser Goldfinch and Nashville Warbler?  Which western county found White-headed Woodpecker and Flammulated Owl?

How many birders saw the Field Sparrow?  128 in the Winter and 25 in the Spring.

Look at the Spring numbers for Cattle Egret, Baird’s Sandpiper, Harris’s Sparrow, Orchard Oriole.