I Love eBird and You Should Too!
As if eBird, the marvelous citizen science produced database of bird sightings, wasn’t awesome enough, you can now have an eBird profile that is viewable by other eBird users. It’s a simple but amazing idea. We birders are curious after all, and learning a little bit about other birders is a great way to keep birders on eBird. But, even better, part of the profile is a heat map that allows you to view the number of species you (or others) have seen in different regions from the county level to world wide!
A screenshot of my eBird profile that shows my New York State total and a heat map for the different counties in New York. I love how red Long Island is and also the darker shades up the west side of the Hudson river in Ulster, Greene, and Albany Counties.
Though such a profile might worry birders who are afraid of being stalked it wisely is an opt-in model so if you choose not to have a profile you won’t. You can also choose just how much information you are willing to share. And rather than try to be a new Facebook for birders, eBird is content to fill a niche that has not yet been exploited, that is, create interesting content about birders’ lists that will keep us coming back for more (and inputting more data into eBird which can only be good for the database and our collective knowledge of the distribution of species).
Not only that, but as you can see across the top of my profile there are several numbers. They are the total number of species observed in the area, the total number of complete checklists, the number of species with photos, and the number of species with audio recordings. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only birder who noticed how low my number of photos in eBird was when I set up my profile. So, of course, I’ve spent a couple of hours uploading some more. I don’t want some researcher a hundred years from now wondering if my single-observer White-winged Dove in Queens was real so I had to add a photo. And once I saw my number of photos go up I had to add some more. Yeah, this thing could become a total time suck but it is a time suck that might actually be helpful to someone someday so it is totally justified. Right?
my world birding map from eBird (Pro tip: visit big countries to make your map seem more full. You can’t even see my visit to Trinidad and Tobago on this map but you definitely notice Kazakhstan!)
Looking at a map of my bird sightings also makes me want to fill in gaps. Look at how much of the world I haven’t birded yet! It is really inexcusable and such a map makes me want to go somewhere new and see birds. And then input those sightings into eBird! These Cornell folks are really quite diabolical, no? How do they keep coming up with ways to make me want to do free database entry? It’s incredible!
fancy new binoculars
Then again, thanks to the luck of the draw, my database entry isn’t entirely free. As one of 1,720 birders who submitted at least 31 checklists into eBird in July without using an “x” to denote how many of a species I saw, I was entered into a drawing for eBirder of the month for July. And, much to my delight, I won! Part of the prize was a brand new pair of Zeiss Conquests, which I was more than happy to try out this weekend. It’s pretty good glass though it did seem weird to be wearing Zeiss around my neck with my Swarovski hat on my head. Whatever. So long as I’m out seeing birds and seeing them well.
Are you eBirding? Have you set up your profile? If so, share a link in the comments. If not, get to it! After all, if you aren’t an eBirder you can’t see any profiles at all. How sad would it be if you couldn’t virtually stalk me or anyone else on eBird? Are you an eBirder who hasn’t set up your profile yet? Here’s how to do it: it’s quick, easy, and fun!
And if you’ve found anything else cool out there in eBird that you think more folks should know about share that in the comments as well. For example, while exploring profiles I happened upon Noah Stryker’s profile. You know, the guy who set the world big year record last year? And while he has a whole heck of a lot more coverage than I do I must admit to being somewhat surprised by how many gaps he still has.
Noah Stryker’s eBird world map
Don’t you want to be like me? Or, even better, like Noah? Get to eBird and get your profile going!