[Tweeters] Washington county year list project 2012 summary & 2013 launch

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Wed Jan 16 05:44:49 PST 2013

Here's the year-end report for the 2012 county year-list project.
The combined results are posted online at: http://wabirder.com/county_yearlist.html

Every year for the past seven years, we've had compilers for each of Washington's 39 counties, trying to record a cumulative year list for each county to see what is being seen. While individual county listing is fun, the idea behind this project is to try to keep track of the 'community' list: all the birds seen by anyone, rather than just those seen by one person. The result is something of a picture of the birds of Washington for 2012.

The introduction of e-bird into the bird data world has helped immensely in learning about sightings, but in truth there is still a lot of information being shared on local networks and on list-servs that is not included in e-bird. This county year list project can draw from both e-bird and non-ebird sources, hopefully resulting in a more complete overview.

We are well underway with the 2013 compiling. A list of this year's compilers can be found at the bottom of the same page on Washington Birder: http://wabirder.com/county_yearlist.html -- Welcome aboard to the new compilers for Island (Ann Marie Wood), Benton (Keith & Jane Abel) and San Juan (Monica Wieland

If you go birding somewhere and want to help with this project, send the relevant compiler your list of sightings. As the year progresses and we post mid-year updates, you can help the compilers even more by looking for misses on the list that you have seen and telling the compiler about those specific birds.

Some 'results' from 2012:
A total of 401 species were reported around the state in 2012, the highest species total we've tallied in the seven years of keeping these lists, and ten species more than last year. That said, in 2007, 400 species were tallied so this 'new record' isn't amazingly out of line. Western WA counties reported 372 species, and 323 were recorded in Eastern Washington in 2012. For the state and for Western WA, those numbers are high, while Eastern WA's total was the second lowest we've recorded for the project. Overall, I think you can draw few conclusions from any apparent trends at such an abstract level -- too much is condensed in the simple yes/no question of whether a species was seen state-wide. That said, a few conclusions....

78 species seen in all 39 counties this year, up from 61 last year -- I think that's a good sign of the more thorough coverage we've been able to give the state.

This year, Snowy Owl made an appearance in 27 of the 39 counties, according to our totals -- this is one more county than in 2011, though the 2012 total includes birds from last winter as well as this winter, so it might not in & of itself point to this winter being a bigger year for the irruption.

31species were seen only in 1 county -- that's the same number of 'single county birds' as in 2011.

22 counties were within 10 species of their 2011 total -- a sign of coverage being pretty thorough & lists stabilizing, perhaps.

30 counties reported the same or more species seen in 2012 than in 2011.

At the county level the top counts this year went to the following counties: Clallam [285], Grays Harbor [276], Yakima [267], Skagit [267], Okanogan [263], King [262], Walla Walla [262]. In all, 31 counties reported over 200 species this year , and all counties recorded over 170 species.

With seven years of this project, we might have to start making some more thorough conclusions before long! (For now, all the old year-list totals are available on the website)

If you look over the list and notice anything not noted that you saw, make a resolution in 2012 to report to the compiler - we are sure more birds are being seen that we're recording, but we need the input of the community to enhance the picture.

Thanks to all the compilers who keep track of their county patches, and thanks to all the contributors who send their sightings in to the compilers.

Here's looking forward to 2013's birds, familiar and surprising.

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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