Researchers debunk common birdwatching belief

The black-capped gnatcatcher (Polioptila nigriceps) is a rare birds that has shown up in the Patagonia rest area in Arizona. Credit: Alan Schmierer

A common belief about birdwatchers called the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect may actually be more of a myth and less of an effect. The phenomenon, often shortened to PPTE and named after an Arizona rest area where rare birds have been spotted, suggests that after birdwatchers spot a rare bird, more birders flock to the area and then find additional rare species at an accelerated rate. But in a recent study, researchers reviewed eBird data from that past decade and found no evidence that higher-than-normal sightings of rare birds led to an accumulation of rare bird sightings. “Although we found that the discovery of rarities does indeed change birder behavior, we found little evidence for improvement in discovery rates of additional rare birds,” the authors wrote in the study.

Read the article in Birdwatching Daily and check out the study in PeerJ.

Keywords: birders, birdwatching, Patagonia Picnic Table Effect, phenomenon, PPTE, myth

Image Caption: The black-capped gnatcatcher (Polioptila nigriceps) is a rare birds that has shown up in the Patagonia rest area in Arizona.