The Luck of the Draw

Me (left, obviously) with my Costa Rican non-birder friends in Río Celeste, Costa Rica

We’ve discussed eBird countless times here in the past, but I don’t think I ever mentioned their monthly challenges, which are designed to encourage eBirders to contribute some extra element of data to their usual checklists in a given month, with the chance of being randomly selected from the pool of people who satisfy the challenge requirements. If you’re chosen, you’ll receive an excellent pair of binoculars from Zeiss Optics!

In the past there have been challenges related to adding breeding codes to checklists (for example, noting if a species was observed carrying nesting material, or displaying, or feeding a juvenile); noting flyover species; going out birding with someone else and sharing the checklist; using the eBird app; and more! I think I remember a challenge from 2015 that involved checklists including raptors and vultures, and I recall being frustrated because it came a month after I’d been in Jamaica reporting Turkey Vultures several times a day. I had so many checklists with Turkey Vultures as one of the observed species that I was sure I would have had the best odds of winning the challenge––for that particular month, the more checklists you had that satisfied the requirements, the more “entries” you had into the pool from which a name would randomly be drawn. Depending on the type of challenge, that pool can range from three or four hundred people to three or four thousand, and as I recall there weren’t many “contestants” in that Turkey Vulture challenge.

But my bad luck in early 2015 didn’t deter me from continuing to try to participate in the monthly challenges since then, and in March 2018, my perseverance paid off! I was very fortunate to be selected randomly out of the 3,902 people who completed the stipulations, which was to submit at least 15 checklists with either a photo or audio file included. Click here to read more about my March eBird madness!

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