|Part of the roosting flock
While this behaviour is quite common at this time of year for Great Egrets, it provides a really nice example of the utility of eBird to gather data to monitor such a roost. This roost is especially well-suited to being monitored by Citizen Scientists because it is easy to observe and it is relatively close to a large population of birders. In fact, since June of this year there have been at least 99 surveys done at Hespeler Mill Pond resulting in over 110 checklists being submitted to eBird!
|A screen-shot showing recent Great Egret sightings at Hespeler Mill Pond
1. When do Great Egrets start building in numbers at fall roosts?
2. When do Great Egret numbers peak at fall roosts?
3. How many individuals are using a particular roost?
4. Do numbers stay steady at a roost?
Obviously, there are many more questions that can be answered - these are just a taste. And when you think about the fact that millions of bird observations are submitted every month to eBird, the questions you can start answering are practically endless! And these are exactly the sorts of questions that scientists working for governments with increasingly fewer resources could never fully answer.
I'll leave you with this final figure showing all of the counts of Great Egrets from Hespeler Mill Pond by date for this year:
|Great Egret counts from Hespeler Mill Pond on eBird
Chip Weseloh and Tyler Hoar recently published a paper where they used eBird to track the northbound migration of Great Egrets towards Ontario using eBird, I'll try to find a copy of that and post the link.
And if you aren't yet submitting your everyday bird records to eBird, hopefully this will convince you that it is more than worthwhile - every observation is a small piece of a huge puzzle!