From the drop of the ball on January 1 to the last owl hoot on December 31, hundreds of birders scoured fields and fens, mountains and meadows, lakes and lawns to discover as many species as possible during a single calendar year. The second annual Vermont County eBird Quest pitted county versus county, birder against birder — all engaged in a friendly rivalry for top honors of the highest species count. The main idea behind the year-long Quest was simply to get people out birding, promote camaraderie, and better document bird life across the state, using Vermont eBird. With over 28,000 eBird checklists submitted and nearly 2.3 million birds tallied, there is no doubt it was a huge success!
Green Mountain Birders Put Up Big Numbers
The final results were based on a carefully calculated “par” system, realizing that not all Vermont counties are created equal in terms of avian diversity. Par scores reflect the number of species that a given county should find in a year with consistent birding effort. Although Chittenden took top 2012 honors in absolute numbers of species tallied with 242, Washington County won the 2012 Quest Cup, 25.5 over par and just shy of the 200 bird mark, a remarkable effort for a county with few large water bodies. Top checklist honors goes to Windsor County with 4,937 checklists submitted to Vermont eBird.
Many birders ventured outside their home counties, and the statewide leaders in total species observed were Jim Mead (252), Ian Worley (242), and Allison Wagner (240). Ian Worley submitted a remarkable 1,721 eBird checklists, while Craig Provost with 1,394 and Jim Mead with 1,196 took home very respectable silver and bronze in this category. Birders who identified 150 species or more in a county were also inducted into the prestigious “150 Club”.
Congratulations to everyone for a fun year of birding. We hope some of you will vie for top honors in 2013! If ever you don’t, all of the data collected in Vermont eBird is valuable for science, education and conservation.