Date   

Re: the new MERLIN sound add-on: the Good and the Not-so-Good

Lisa Ruby
 

I've been testing out the Sound ID capabilities in the Merlin app for
the last week or so. What I've found in my area around Sabre Springs,
and in my yard, is that it does OK with some calls and most songs of our
local and breeding migrant species that I have around here, but misses
IDs on other sounds of the same species. It can't seem to ID the rattle
sound of Hooded Orioles, or the harsh call sounds of Wrentits. It also
has trouble with many of the Lesser Goldfinch sounds. I had it miss on
some variations of Spotted Towhee songs.

I haven't had too many complete mis-identifications, but there have been
a few. I had it tell me I had a Western Tanager by the creek in Sabre
Springs this past week, which I seriously doubt. It also told me that a
woodpecker drumming by the creek was a Downy, when it's highly likely it
was a Nuttall's. I'm lucky if I run into a Downy in that area once a
year. I've had a lot more sounds that aren't ID'd at all than I've had
bad IDs.

I tried contacting the Merlin folks to see if there was any way we could
report the incorrect IDs, and the misses. I got a response that they
haven't got anything set up for us to do that right now. You can report
a complete miss from within the app, but you can't supply comments to
let them know what was missed. There is no way to report an incorrect
ID. I mentioned that it seems like the incorrect IDs could lead to bad
data in eBird, which I would think they already know is a risk.

One thing that is pretty cool is that it will identify whatever it can
pick up from a single recording. While recording it lists whatever it's
able to identify. If you're able to look at the screen while it's
recording it will highlight a species it already ID'd if it hears it again.

For those with an Android phone it stores the recordings under the Music
folder, in a Merlin  subfolder, so it's possible to get them off the phone.

Warning: It's a major battery hog.

Lisa Ruby
Sabre Springs

On 7/3/2021 4:10 PM, lehman.paul@... via groups.io wrote:
As a follow-up to Tracy H's post a short while ago about her new MERLIN
sound app suggesting she had a female/imm Rufous Hummingbird in her yard:

The recent introduction of the new MERLIN add-on sound phone-app has
generated some interesting discussion from some new users. Most have
said that they have found it to be mostly accurate and actually has
helped them detect species they would have otherwise totally missed.
That's the very good news. The bad news is that it has also made
multiple faulty suggestions or actual identifications. So far the worst
I've heard about is that within a couple days of the app launch, a
friend of mine and eBird reviewer in Washington state told me he had
received eBird reports in late June of heard-only Harris's Sparrow and
American Woodcock! (The latter would presumably be a first state
record.) Here in San Diego County, a birder who lives in the middle of
residential San Diego has had her app suggest that there are both Canyon
and Cactus Wrens in or bordering her yard, which is certainly not the
case; and two different observers in the county have been told that
there are/may be Rufous Hummingbirds present, in yards with plenty of
Allen's. But if there is a Rufous, it would have to be a female (whereas
it is adult males that typically arrive first), as they do not have any
adult male Rufous (visually), this would still be early for
southboundRufous to have arrived in San Diego County (it would be almost
all-time record early), and exactly how is the app differentiating the
call-notes of Rufous vs. Allen's?? Now, clearly SOME errors are due to
the observers turning Merlin "suggestions" into the real deal. But
hopefully users will use this new tool carefully, and not as the gospel
truth all the time. Otherwise many an over-worked eBird reviewer will
find themselves with even more work on their hands. (And how many
UNflagged heard-only records will not be correct??)

--Paul Lehman, San Diego





--
Lisa Ruby
Sabre Springs


the new MERLIN sound add-on: the Good and the Not-so-Good

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

As a follow-up to Tracy H's post a short while ago about her new MERLIN sound app suggesting she had a female/imm Rufous Hummingbird in her yard:

The recent introduction of the new MERLIN add-on sound phone-app has generated some interesting discussion from some new users. Most have said that they have found it to be mostly accurate and actually has helped them detect species they would have otherwise totally missed. That's the very good news. The bad news is that it has also made multiple faulty suggestions or actual identifications. So far the worst I've heard about is that within a couple days of the app launch, a friend of mine and eBird reviewer in Washington state told me he had received eBird reports in late June of heard-only Harris's Sparrow and American Woodcock! (The latter would presumably be a first state record.) Here in San Diego County, a birder who lives in the middle of residential San Diego has had her app suggest that there are both Canyon and Cactus Wrens in or bordering her yard, which is certainly not the case; and two different observers in the county have been told that there are/may be Rufous Hummingbirds present, in yards with plenty of Allen's. But if there is a Rufous, it would have to be a female (whereas it is adult males that typically arrive first), as they do not have any adult male Rufous (visually), this would still be early for southboundRufous to have arrived in San Diego County (it would be almost all-time record early), and exactly how is the app differentiating the call-notes of Rufous vs. Allen's?? Now, clearly SOME errors are due to the observers turning Merlin "suggestions" into the real deal. But hopefully users will use this new tool carefully, and not as the gospel truth all the time. Otherwise many an over-worked eBird reviewer will find themselves with even more work on their hands. (And how many UNflagged heard-only records will not be correct??)

--Paul Lehman, San Diego


Hummingbirds - possible Rufous - many Allen's

Tracy Henchbarger
 

The Rufous should have migrated north in the spring, however, I may have Rufous among the many hummingbirds who empty three of my four 30-ounce feeders daily. Over the years, the mix of hummer species has shifted. This year it seems 50/50 Anna's vs. Allen's.  Many of the Allen's are here all year. The new sound add-on to the Merlin app is identifying Allen's / Rufous / and Anna's at my feeders-- the sound app has proven to be impressive but I can't determine whether it is correctly identifying the Rufous. All the birds frequently display their tails, so there is an opportunity to try to  photograph the notched R2 and the pointed R5 tail feathers of the Rufous. Anybody is welcome to sit at the feeders and observe the hummers.  (At least 5 Hooded Orioles visit the feeders regularly too.) Send me an email for directions.
--
Tracy Henchbarger
tracyhench AT gmail dot com
Lake Hodges, Escondido, CA 92029


La Jolla Pigeon Guillemot

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

On Saturday, July 2nd, an adult Pigeon Guillemot flew south past La Jolla at 7:55 AM, first spotted by Alison D. This is the finally the first individual seen from here this year. About 15 or so minutes earlier, one adult Common Murre flew by heading south, first spotted by Jay D.--much more "expected" now that it is July. Nothing else of note.

Be aware that tomorrow, the 4th, no vehicles are allowed in the La Jolla Cove area, already starting at 6AM.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego


miscellanea (including departed? Wood Stork)

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

Nothing too exciting to report the past few days. But first off, a returning, summering adult Wood Stork was reported yesterday (Thurs) up at Lake Elsinore in Riverside County, and which last year was assumed to be the same bird as at Safari Park; so, presumably the bird will now NOT be seen at Safari Park until it comes back south in the fall (unless it changes its previous pattern of occurrence). Returning Western Sandpipers are now back in the low hundreds, and yesterday there was a nice count of 5000+ Black-vented Shearwaters at La Jolla (but nothing else of note offshore), where also continuing 3 Black Oystercatchers and a record-early-arrival (by 10 days) breeding-plumaged Wandering Tattler (present since 30 Jun--fide M. Mason). A Brown Booby was on south San Diego Bay perched on the old abandoned dredge at the saltworks with cormorants, first seen 29 Jun (M. Sadowski) it was still present the next day. Still 3 summering Cattle Egrets (very rare along the coast) at the main Dairy Mart Pond. Two singing Swainson's Thrushes were along the SD River near the Mission/former Stadium area on 29 Jun, a fairly consistent summering site at the southern limit of this species' range.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego


shorebirds on the move

Robert Patton
 

Late this morning (6/28/21), I observed over 620 Wilson's phalaropes in closed portions of South San Diego Bay NWR saltworks (NE pond 12).
R. Patton
San Diego, CA


Re: Trouble with eBird?

Chris Spurgeon
 

I had that exact thing happen to me about a year ago. I unsubscribed and resubscribed several times over a few days before it started working again. No idea what the problem was.

Chris Spurgeon
La Crescenta, CA


eBird/email problem but not mystery solved

Alison Hiers
 

I walked through the problem and finally hit upon a fix.  If you have a Mac account you can use three domain names interchangeably me.com, mac.com and icloud.com - we always have with no problems before.  But for some reason eBird suddenly quit working with me.com, which is the one I always use.  All my other accounts still work with that domain name, only eBird quit working.  Once I switched to the icloud.com domain on eBird I am now getting my alerts again.  I heard from someone else with a Mac who also stopped getting their alerts a few months back but had not resolved it.  So if any other users have this issue just try changing the domain portion of your name, if you have multiples for your account.  Thanks to everyone for responding!

Alison Hiers


ebird Clarification

Alison Hiers
 

Thanks to the people who have responded.  I should have clarified that I have a Mac and a Mac account, so no spam folder.  And my Junk folder is easy to check - it tells me if there is anything there - and there is nothing in it.  I have no provider website to log into so that also does not apply.  It is just good to know for trouble-shooting purposes that others are receiving their alerts with no issues.

Alison Hiers


Trouble with eBird?

Alison Hiers
 

Is anyone else having trouble receiving alerts?  I stopped getting mine a few weeks ago and have tried everything to correct it.  I am getting all my other email fine.  I sent eBird two emails asking them to look into it and have received their automatic response just fine but no answer from them otherwise.  I deleted all my alerts and re-signed up and I am still not getting them.  Anyone else having that problem or anyone with other suggestions of what I can try?  Of course I can still login to the web site and check each one, I am just wondering if it is them or on my end somehow.

Alison Hiers


Wood Stork currently at Safari Park 10:06 June 27

terry hurst
 

Hi all
If anyone is currently at the safari park and would like to see the Wood Stork it is perched on tree at the little island of the Marabou Stork exhibit. There are three trees at the exhibit. The tree the bird is currently perched at is at the south end of the island. Just getting the word in case anyone is interested and is in the area.
Location coordinates below.

WGS-84 degrees :
Latitude: 33.094689
Longitude: -116.996617
33.094689, -116.996617
Accuracy: 16 ft

https://maps.apple.com/?q=33.09469,-116.99662
https://maps.google.com/?q=33.09469,-116.99662

WGS-84 degrees:
33.094689,-116.996617

6/27/21, 10:05 AM
sent with
http://itunes.apple.com/app/id945482414

Terry Hurst
Santee


Re: Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Scissors Crossing, 26 June

Gjon Hazard
 

And now, I s’pose, the obligatory reminder about call playback... because it is oh-so-tempting with Yellow-billed Cuckoos.

You may have read Sibley's discussions on the subject, or the article in The Spruce, and convinced yourself that it'll be OK, 'just this once' -- but it would not be appropriate for this species, especially at this location.  

The western population of Yellow-billed Cuckoo is federally listed as an endangered species, and the species is also State listed as an endangered species in California. Both USFWS and CDFW require permits for audio elicitation (call playback, playing tapes, etc.).

Presence has been determined at San Felipe Creek. The survey protocol says, "Playback calls should not be used during follow up visits, and great care must be taken in order to avoid disturbing nesting birds." This is because people who research Yellow-billed Cuckoos believe, for this species in particular, that call playback can be harmful. 

The protocol goes on to say:

"Nesting cuckoos can be very sensitive to disturbance, especially during the pair formation and nest building stage. Nests located prior to the first egg are particularly susceptible to abandonment. At least five nests were abandoned during seven years of study on the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, possibly due, at least in part, to human disturbance (Halterman 2001, Halterman et al. 2009). Surveyors must be alert to cuckoos’ behavioral signs of disturbance near a nest, which include alarm calls given repeatedly while watching the intruder, broken wing displays, or flying in with prey, then eating it instead of going to the nest. If these occur, the observer has been detected, the cuckoo is distressed, and the observer should move back. Recorded calls should not be used to elicit a response during nest searching and monitoring activities, as cuckoos have been observed leaving the nest in response to a recorded call."

Stated another way, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle (loosely speaking) applies to this species in breeding areas: If you're getting good views of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the bird is probably being disturbed by your presence. 

I am not aware of any recent confirmed cuckoo nestings anywhere in Southern California away from the Colorado River. Breeding may have occurred along the Mojave River in 2017. But that's it, once (probably), at one location, 4 years ago -- and nowhere else for quite a few years. 

The pattern of cuckoo occurrence at San Felipe Creek suggests that this is one of only a few places in the region where nesting may occur. 

Careful, considerate, ethical observation of Yellow-billed Cuckoos by birders could possibly help document nesting. More realistically, good birding behavior would probably mean being satisfied with hearing it (unsolicited) from a distance. Inappropriate birding behavior, on the other hand, could truly be detrimental.

Sincerely,
-Gjon


From: SanDiegoRegionBirding@groups.io <SanDiegoRegionBirding@groups.io> on behalf of Barbara via groups.io <barbarac2003@...>
Sent: Saturday, June 26, 2021 3:09 PM
To: SanDiegoRegionBirding <sandiegoregionbirding@groups.io>; Birding San Diego <birdingsandiego@groups.io>
Subject: [SanDiegoRegionBirding] Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Scissors Crossing, 26 June
 
This morning a group of us found, photographed, and recorded a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the crossing. List on eBird is here:





More photos and recording (if loud enough) will be added shortly.

Before going, Trent Stanley did some research and found that a CDFW Lands Pass (1-Day) is needed to enter the San Felipe Valley Wildlife AreaIt's only $4.89, which might be worthwhile to avoid any fines in case you run into a CDFW officer. People with a CDFW trapping license or hunting and fishing licenses are exempt.






Temperatures are rising, with Wednesday and Thursday being the coolest days next week.

Cheers! 

Barbara Carlson
San Diego



--
- - -
Gjon Hazard 
Encinitas 


Re: Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Scissors Crossing, 26 June

Barbara
 

Trent!

These are wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing!

Barbara Carlson
San Diego

On Saturday, June 26, 2021, 05:12:28 PM PDT, Trent R. Stanley <trent@...> wrote:


Here are my photos of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo from today.

On Sat, Jun 26, 2021 at 3:09 PM Barbara Carlson <barbarac2003@...> wrote:
This morning a group of us found, photographed, and recorded a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the crossing. List on eBird is here:





More photos and recording (if loud enough) will be added shortly.

Before going, Trent Stanley did some research and found that a CDFW Lands Pass (1-Day) is needed to enter the San Felipe Valley Wildlife AreaIt's only $4.89, which might be worthwhile to avoid any fines in case you run into a CDFW officer. People with a CDFW trapping license or hunting and fishing licenses are exempt.






Temperatures are rising, with Wednesday and Thursday being the coolest days next week.

Cheers! 

Barbara Carlson
San Diego




--
Trent R. Stanley
University City, San Diego, CA


Re: Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Scissors Crossing, 26 June

Trent R. Stanley
 

Here are my photos of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo from today.

On Sat, Jun 26, 2021 at 3:09 PM Barbara Carlson <barbarac2003@...> wrote:
This morning a group of us found, photographed, and recorded a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the crossing. List on eBird is here:





More photos and recording (if loud enough) will be added shortly.

Before going, Trent Stanley did some research and found that a CDFW Lands Pass (1-Day) is needed to enter the San Felipe Valley Wildlife AreaIt's only $4.89, which might be worthwhile to avoid any fines in case you run into a CDFW officer. People with a CDFW trapping license or hunting and fishing licenses are exempt.






Temperatures are rising, with Wednesday and Thursday being the coolest days next week.

Cheers! 

Barbara Carlson
San Diego




--
Trent R. Stanley
University City, San Diego, CA


Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Scissors Crossing, 26 June

Barbara
 

This morning a group of us found, photographed, and recorded a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the crossing. List on eBird is here:





More photos and recording (if loud enough) will be added shortly.

Before going, Trent Stanley did some research and found that a CDFW Lands Pass (1-Day) is needed to enter the San Felipe Valley Wildlife AreaIt's only $4.89, which might be worthwhile to avoid any fines in case you run into a CDFW officer. People with a CDFW trapping license or hunting and fishing licenses are exempt.






Temperatures are rising, with Wednesday and Thursday being the coolest days next week.

Cheers! 

Barbara Carlson
San Diego



Bald eagle Santa Ysabel 8.15am

Steve Perry
 


I just passed an adult bald eagle perched on a power pole right near the junction of 79 and Mesa Grande Road. I made an emergency pull out but couldn’t get to my camera before it took off heading south. 
Steve Perry

--
Steve Perry
Solana Beach, CA


miscellanea

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

Miscellanea (all of it relatively minor, unfortunately!) from the past few days includes a Reddish Egret at J Street and 17 Wilson's Phalaropes and 30 summering Eared Grebes at the salt works (end of 13th) on the 22nd; and continuing Redhead and 3 Cattle Egrets and a very-rare-in-summer male Blue-winged Teal all in the Dairy Mart area on the 24th. Finally saw ONE Surf Scoter in the Imperial Beach/Coronado area.... Continuing over-summering shorebirds include 6 Ruddy Turnstones, 9 Red Knots, and just 3 Western Sandpipers; but returning migrants so far include just the expected Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Curlews, Willets, and Wilson's Phalaropes.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego


Juvenile Harriers at Bird and Butterfly Garden

Andrew N
 

I've been seeing some interesting raptor reports happening on eBird down at the Bird and Butterfly Garden these past couple days and thought it prudent to point out there are three juvenile Northern Harriers there currently that are very dark, which may be tricky if all you catch is one flying quickly by. I was watching the parents feed them the other day and got plenty of photos that show just how dark they are. Just wanted to give people a heads up!


https://ebird.org/checklist/S90594493

Andrew Newmark
Chula Vista CA


Neotropic, the other Indigo

lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

Monday morning, I arrived at Morrison Pond near Bonita just before 6:00AM and the only cormorants present were two Double-cresteds, so I then went at 7:00 a.m. to Sweetwater Reservoir when it opened and did not see the Neotropic there either, with the only small highlight being my first fall migrant Wilson's Phalarope of the season. But then I returned to Morrison at 8:00AM and the Neotropic is indeed now here, perched along the south side of the pond. Given that the bird is an adult, there's a reasonable chance it's one of the couple individuals that were here last year at this same time of year.

On Sunday, visiting birders Marantz and Bevier saw the FEMALE Indigo Bunting off the northwest corner of the Bird and Butterfly Garden, the first time the female has been reported in quite some time. This isn't far from where it was found with fledglings last summer, along that path that runs from the northwest corner of the garden westward to the equestrian parking lot. They had no luck refinding the Mississippi Kite yesterday.

Other than the continuing two or three Black oystercatchers, yesterday morning's seawatching at La Jolla was very slow.

Paul Lehman, San Diego


A #400 Milestone

Barbara Wise
 

Congratulations to Alison Davies who saw her 400th San Diego County bird when she connected with a Rose-breasted Grosbeak on Saturday in Pacific Beach. That’s a fine milestone to reach and a really cool bird with which to do it. 
Well done, Alison!  Onwards and upwards to your next birding milestone!
See Alison’s breathtaking photos here:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S90534709

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