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Welcome to the 2013 Daily Kos Backyard Science Yardbird Race! This is our fifth tally diary of the year, the official place to post your sightings, ask for help, and/or crow some if you wish. Please, please let me know in the comments or kosmail me if I missed you last time or need to make any corrections.

Here's what the race is all about:

The Daily Kos Backyard Science Yardbird Race is a birding competition where, over the course of one year, participants strive to identify the most bird species - by sight and/or by sound - from the confines of their yards.

Remember, anytime is a good time to join in, even if you're just a beginning birder. There may be some friendly bluster, but if you ask for ID help you'll get it, especially if you can write up a good description or post a photo. Too, there are a bunch of categories, so people who live in urban centers aren't competing against others who have a lot of open space or waterfront views.

The Categories:

       ~Urban apartment or condo
        ~Urban attached (townhouse, rowhouse)
        ~Urban detached
        ~Rural <5 acres
        ~Rural >5 acres
        ~Waterfront (trumps any of the above...)
        ~Classroom Project

We always suggest that you look under the squiggly orange bird poop way below to find  the details and the fine print (always the fine print.)


Four new racers jumped in last month, bringing the total number of active participants up to a record breaking 24. Welcome, DarkHawk98, Benny Toothpick, LilithGardener, and Mojave Joan!

April brought ice and snow to some racing areas, dry heat to others. There have been reports of the very first spring migrants arriving in the colder areas and the first fledglings in the warmer ones. With that, we go to April's summary. (Note that last year's racers' final 2012 counts are in parentheses after their names. They're competing against themselves this year, too. Note, too, that there are more new racers than veterans this year.)


Of note is that three of the four new racers checked in to the Apartment/Condo category, which is beginning to look quite competitive. We'll start there this time.

1 (tie). Benny Toothpick ... Carrboro, NC ... 19
1 (tie). DarkHawk98 ... location? ... 19
2. aaroninsandiego ... San Diego CA ... 13
3. LilithGardener ... NY NY ... 10

Benny Toothpick and DarkHawk98 checked into the APARTMENT/CONDO category for the first time last month and immediately jumped into a tied lead with 19 each. That left erstwhile leader, aaroninsandiego, in second place for the first time this year, with some definite competition from LilithGardiner, another of last month's newcomers.


1. most awesome nana ... NE PA ... 29
2. PHScott (32) ... west of Tallahassee FL ... 26
3. homeschoolingmom     ... WV ... 24
4. Mojave Jo ... Barstow, CA ... 16
6. Robert Helmuth ... OK ... 14

most awesome nana continues her lead in the RURAL <5ACRES category with 29. Last we checked, homeschooling mom and PHScott were holding close in second and third, but their positions switched in April: PH climbed back into second place with 26 and homeschooling mom cruised by in third  - with her March report of 24 still to be updated. However, the newest kid in this town is Mojave Jo, who jumped in with a solid 16. That puts her just ahead of Robert Helmuth going into April. We may have some good races here.


2. political mutt ... Sandhills NC ... 57
3. milly watt (67) ... Olympic Peninsula WA ... 56
4. polly syllabic (100) ... Gooseville WI ... 55
1. matching mole (78) ... Tallahassee FL ... 53
5. oceandiver ... Lopez IS WA ... 38
6.john difool ... Jacksonville, FL ... 36

the WATERFRONT category shifts and tightens. We've got  We welcomed political mutt, milly watt and  polly syllabic one species apart in first, second and third with matching mole lagging by just two species behind them. There's a second backfield race developing here, too, with oceandiver and john difool running neck and neck. But remember, john difool didn't check in last time and the spring migrants are just arriving up at oceandiver's. Anything is possible on the waterfront.


1. bwren (50)... Seattle WA ... 28
2. duckhunter ... St Louis MO ... 26   
3. billybush ... Omaha NE ... 21

It continues to tighten in the URBAN DETACHED category. I've stalled, adding just one new bird in March. duckhunter didn't even have to check in to stay in close second. Meanwhile, billybush quietly added 6 new birds. He's definitely closing in.


On to the smaller categories, starting with a 3 way tie for second in the SUBURBAN category.

1. chantedor ... Paradise, CA ... 34
2 (tie). AZ Sphinxmoth ... Baja, AZ ... 24
2 (tie). barbwires ... Alexandria VA ... 24
2 (tie). enhydra lutris (40) ... Castro Valley NOCA ... 24

chantedor is way out in front as we go into the April tally, 10 species ahead of each of other three competitors in the SUBURBAN category. That puts AZ Sphinxmoth, barbwires and enhydra lutris into a three way tie for second. Who ever suggested that suburbia was boring??


1. burnt out (73)... middle MO ... 43
2. janislav ... IA ... 31

burnt out and janislav are still in a holding pattern, though janislav did add a few more new species in March than burnt did. Good luck you two!


1. lineatus ... San Francisco CA ... 38
2. Kay Observer2 ... Washington DC ... 23

lineatus and Kay Observer2 also continue to hold their positions as we move into April's count. We'll see how spring has treated their positions on either side of the country.


Tally Updates
Be kind to your record keeper. For ease of keeping track of everyone's lists, please post your tallies in the following manner.

Your location, as close as you are comfortable revealing.
Your yard category.
Number of species seen so far, including your other tallies if you have any.
List of birds seen, dated if you wish.
Any comments you have about your sightings.

The sixth tally of the 2013 Backyard Science Yardbird Race is now open! You all know what to do.


I'll be in and out all day.

Mark your calendars! The next tally will be on June 2.

Details and the fine print.

You'll be listing the number of bird species that you find from the confines of your yard between January 1 and December 31, 2013.  You can list a bird if you see or hear it while you are somewhere in your yard. If you live in an apartment or condo building your "yard" includes the property on which the building is located. Note that a "yard" includes your living quarters. So, you can list the owl that wakes you at 2am, but you can't list the Flamingo you see in your neighbor's side yard while driving home if you cannot see it from any place in your yard after you get out of your car. You can, however, walk around to your neighbor's side yard to ID a bird that you have initially seen or heard from the confines of your own yard.

You may list domestic chickens, but only as the generic "domestic chicken". Feral parrots and budgies may also be listed, but only as the generic "feral parrot". Pet birds, other captive birds and birds kept for hunting don't count.

There are no rules about ladders and fences. With the exception of utilizing recorded bird calls, which is strongly discouraged, there are also no rules about making your yard more bird-attractive than the competition's.

           Here are the yard categories:
            ~Urban apartment or condo
            ~Urban attached (townhouse, rowhouse)
            ~Urban detached
            ~Rural <5 acres
            ~Rural >5 acres
            ~Waterfront (trumps any of the above...)
            ~Classroom Project

You're on the honor system here. Think twice before reporting Geococcyx californianus from anywhere above latitude 42.00.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sun May 05, 2013 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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