1. What is a 5-mile radius list?
The 5MR is a list of birds (or wildflowers, mammals, lizards, insects, trees, etc.) that you have seen within 5 miles of your home.
2. How do I keep a list like this?
* Draw a 5-mile radius around your home (try this tool)
* Count all the birds inside it.
It helps a lot to make a patch on eBird that includes all the hotspots and personal locations that are in your radius.
3. What are the benefits of keeping a 5MR list?
• Traveling 5 miles or less to bird means more time birding and less time driving, biking, riding the bus, etc. If you typically drive to go birding then staying in your radius can save you gas money while reducing your carbon footprint.
• Exploring your radius will lead to finding new places to bird including places no one else birds. Your sightings from these unbirded (or under-birded) places can be far more valuable than checklists at a heavily birded hotspot. With more bird sightings from a wider range of locations, data is distributed more evenly, painting a more realistic picture of bird frequency.
• There's a good chance you will find birds that no other birders would have found. Most will be common birds but once in awhile something exciting will show up.
• There is something special about seeing nature close to your home. It's one thing to see a well-known Great Horned Owl nest at a wildlife refuge but when you stumble upon one by a strip mall in your radius? It's downright awe-inspiring.
• When you spend a lot of time in neighborhoods and parks and sketchy back alleys close to home you start to appreciate your surroundings even more. When you care about a place you're more likely to fight for it, whether it be through park clean-ups, phone calls to your local politicians, or planting native plants.
• The opportunity for competition! There was an impressive 5MR competition in Southern California in 2018 with at least a dozen birders competing. There have been 5MR Big Day competitions among several of us bird-bloggers also.
4. What if I already keep a "green" or "motorless" list?
You're awesome. Keep it up. If you combine the two you can save energy on bike-riding and focus more time on birding.
5. There are literally zero eBird hotspots in my 5-mile radius. What do I do?
Start exploring! Scan satellite images and find yourself some good wildlife habitat, then go out and see what you can find. Suggest locations as hotspots and encourage others to visit. You'll be a birding hero in no time.
However you track bird sightings should work whether it's with pen and paper or in a fancy spreadsheet. Local bird shops often sell checklists for birds of the state or county or you can download one from the internet (like this one for the Portland area). Those cute little ABA checklist books they sell online would also work great.
7. How can I connect with other 5MR birders?
Our Facebook group is the best place to go! If you have any questions contact 5MRBirding@mail.com
8. How do I make a fancy map that has both my hotspots and my radius on it?
Thankfully a fellow 5MR birder, Josh Chapman, created a handy guide for just that thing. Check it out here.