What if every birdwatcher in the world submitted their bird observations from a single weekend into a single, centralized database? How many of the world’s birds can be recorded on a single weekend in February? This weekend, birders from around the world are using eBird to run this experiment worldwide for the second global Great Backyard Bird Count. Last year 41% of the world’s birds were detected; this year we’d like to shoot for 50%. But to succeed, we’ll need the readers of Birding Frontiers to help out, both by entering data and by spreading the word about the count.
If you have never tried eBird before, there has never been a better time to get involved. Take part in this global initiative to see how many birds can be recorded in a single weekend.
eBird allows any birder worldwide to submit data to a centralized database and to view these data on a variety of eBird data exploration tools. More importantly for the birder, the free website provides the services of the best listing and record keeping software, automatically tracking your life list, Western Palearctic list, country lists, state or province lists, county lists, year lists, patch lists, site lists and garden lists. All contributors are acknowledged in our Top100, a fun way to see who is seeing the most species and submitting the most checklists anywhere in the world. As more users join each year, the accuracy and extent of the data get better and the database gets less biased towards North America, where eBird began in 2002.
Access to eBird data is free for anyone; the entire dataset of over 165 million records—or any subset thereof—can be downloaded by birders, researchers and conservationists. This philosophy is fundamental to the project and makes eBird a powerful tool for bird recording in dozens of countries that don’t have an existing framework, database or team to organize it. Data quality is always a concern and we work hard to make it better every day. We have a team of more than 600 of the top birders in the world who already help with this system and are always interested in welcoming new regional experts willing to lend a hand. The system works by employing date-specific regional filter to identify rare sightings and giving our reviewers easy tools to follow up on rarities (more on eBird data quality). If you’re interested in helping, let us know at: eBird@cornell.edu.
eBird has data entry apps for iPhone and Android—known as BirdLog. The European version is free and works throughout Europe. The Great Backyard Bird Count version is also free and works worldwide for the next 60 days. Global BirdLog is available for a price that directly supports these apps.
So whether you log birds from your garden or from some far-flung country with comparatively few birders, we invite you to enter a few checklists from Friday the 14th through Monday the 17th. Try to put in at least one checklist in a day. If you get out birding, try to put in site-specific lists from the places you visit during the day (rather than one list from multiple sites). Yeah, it’s a bit more work to keep specific site lists, but we think that after you explore the results in eBird, you’ll agree the effort is well worth it.
Follow the weekend progress at eBird’s Location Explorer. Just type your country, state, or county here and see what eBird has and what you can contribute.
What are you waiting for? Enter your observations now!