Steve Stedman's 2016 UCR Blog

Items relating to the natural history of the Upper Cumberland Region are the focus of this quasi-blog.  Birds and butterflies are the main focus, but other matters natural occasionally intrude.

To report items of interest, send an email to this address:; if you don't report such items, don't expect there will be much below other than my own musings.

13 August 2016

  • 15th consecutive Putnam County East Butterfly Count

Today a group of eight observers in four parties recorded 58 species of butterflies within this count circle, eclipsing by six the previous high species total on this count and giving some hope that a total of 60 species can someday be counted within the 15-mile-diameter circle of this count, which includes a large part of eastern Putnam County, a sizable chunk of southeastern Overton County, and smidgens of Cumberland and White counties.Thanks to Ed LeGrand, Doug Bruce, Mindy Fawver, Sue Pirolo, and Janie Finch for taking part on this count and for helping to obtain photographs of 54 of the 58 species recorded. Especial thanks goes to Larry and Barb Little for counting butterflies on and near their Long Hollow Farm and for providing a wonderful compilation meal at their scenic cabin.

Doug Bruce noted the interesting fact that 41 counties in Tennessee have fewer documented butterfly species at the BAMONA website than were tallied during this butterfly count. The count circle is 177 square miles lying in four counties. If the circle were a county, it would be the 7th smallest county in Tennessee.

Here is a link to the page of this website housing data from the Putnam County East Butterfly Count:

19 June 2016

  • Completion of 30-Minute Yard Surveys at Lakeland Drive

On 6 November 2011, I began a series of 366 yard surveys of 30 minutes each in my yard; today I completed the last of these 30-Minute Surveys. During these surveys I recorded 135 species, about two-thirds of the 197 species that have been recorded in the yard during the period from 1989 to 2016. All data from these yard surveys have been submitted to eBird.

9 June 2016

  • First Day of Scott County Foray

On this date the Scott County Foray began. Scott County is the 26th (and last) county in the Upper Cumberland Region to be the subject of a foray. By the end of this foray (24 June) 102 species of breeding birds, including 20 species of warblers, had been recorded within the 62 blocks comprising this county.

Thanks to Roseanna Denton, Betty Sue Dunn, and Thomas B. Mills for assisting with this foray.


1 June 2016

  • First day of Warren County Foray

On this date the Warren County Foray began for me and for two other observers, Susan and Mac McWhirter. This foray continued through 10 June, by which time 99 breeding species and two additional non-breeding species were recorded within the 47 blocks comprising Warren County.

27 May 2016

  • Resumption of Breeding Bird Surveys (2016)

Beginning on this date I conducted seven Breeding Bird Surveys (BBS) in the Upper Cumberland Region this year, bringing my lifetime total of BBSs to 265, of which 153 have been conducted in Tenessee.

I completed the last of the 7 surveys 26 June 2016, a later date than usual. An unusual result of the BBSs was the recording of Swainson's Warblers on the Sunnybrook, KY, BBS, and on the Oliver Springs, TN, BBS, the first time that I have registered this retiring species on two BBSs during one season.


22 May 2016

  • Results of 2016 Cerulean Warbler Survey in Western Putnam County

For the 13th consecutive year I conducted a survey for Cerulean Warblers in western Putnam County on this date, hearing or seeing a total of 47 Ceruleans. This total is slightly above the 13-year average (44.5). The range of the totals for these 13 surveys is 28-60.

A link to results of all 13 years may be found in the species account for Cerulean Warbler.


4 March 2016

  • Welcome to the new location of my old website

During the past six months my website has been in a state of disrepair, for which apologies to anyone who tried to access it. I thank Randy Robbins, Fastrak Solutions, for providing this new location where I hope to be online for many years to come.

It will probably be several months before I have fully updated the website. Should you not be able to find any bird- or butterfly-related information that was formerly available, just contact me via my email address ( and I will be glad to bring it back online or supply a good reason why I cannot do so.


4 March 2016
  • Yard Lists in the UCR--The eBird Approach (modified from 2014 Blog)

One of the more charming features of eBird is the so-called Yard List, a function that enables users of eBird to report the birds that show up in their yards. A related function is known as the Patch List, which allows eBird users to report the birds located at sites larger than the typical yard and/or sites that are within the public domain. Some overlap in these functions probably takes place, depending on how large a "yard" or how small a "patch" is being surveyed by eBirders using one or the other of these listing functions.

The eBird program keeps track of users' yard (and patch) lists by month, year, and life; it also places each user within a queue of such users so that you can know where you fall within each monthly, yearly, and "lifely" queue both in terms of the number of species reported and the number of complete lists submitted. Furthermore, each user can find his or her rank within an entire country, state/province, and county (or whatever the subunits used within a given country might be).

I maintain a yard list, but so far no patch list, though I suspect I will begin to do that at some point in the near-term future. The habitat within my 2.5-acre yard is diverse, so the array of species that I can detect each day is probably fairly high compared to the average eBird yard.

My yard list is based on four types of check-lists that I have submitted. One type of check-list is a general yard survey that can entail either a complete or an incomplete list of species detected on a given day; the check-list can be for just a few minutes, for the entire day, or anywhere in between; I have been submitting this type of yard check-list occasionally for many years. Another type of check-list I submit for my yard is of more recent vintage (i.e., since November 2011); this type of check-list is for a 30-minute survey of the yard, initiated before or by 1000 CST/CDT; this survey covers a path around the periphery of my yard that is about 300 meters long; I usually do 1 to 2 loops around this path during the half-hour survey. The protocol that I choose for this type of check-list is an area survey rather than a travelling survey, but either would probably work for what I do. A third survey type I conduct in the yard is a stationary count, usually centered on the deck on the east side of the house; this survey lasts 1 hour. A fourth type of yard survey is like the 30-minute survey except that it last only 15 minutes and usually involves 1 circuit around the yard.

When I submit a check-list for a 30-minute survey of the yard, I usally include in the Comments section of the check-list several sets of information, as follows.

First, I identify each check-list by a number. My short-term goal is to have a 30-minute check-list for each day of the year, totalling 366, all numbered and all completed during a 5-year period (November 2011 to October 2016). Once that batch of 30-minute check-lists is complete, I may start a second batch, but not sure about that yet.

Next, I provide weather data for the survey; eBird does not yet, shamefully, request weather data for its check-lists, but the better birder will always provide this information.

Last, I include in the Comments section a list of all species detected during the survey and where each was located in or near the yard; other data may also be included, such as age and/or sex when such info was obtained, whether the bird was heard rather than seen and whether the acoustic i.d. was by call or song, plus any interesting behavior noted, etc.

I conducted Yard eBird 15-Minute Surveys # 398-401 this morning.

5 January 2016
  • 116th CBC Season Ends

Today is the final day of the 23-day-long 116th CBC season. Eight counts were conducted within the Upper Cumberland Region. Details about the results of each count will eventually be accessible via links at the page of this website devoted to the CBC.



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