www.eBird.org has been my “go to” birding software ever since Corey slapped me for getting hysterical over a Blue-winged Warbler at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. Having found what I took to be a noteworthy bird, I wanted to publicise it, but was not sure how that might best be accomplished. I contacted Corey, who checked it out on the barchart for the eBird Hotspot and was able to tell me that a Blue-winged Warbler was not as special as I had imagined. He let me down in a caring and comforting way, but I am sure that at some point he emitted a long sigh and a soft, “Huh! Limeys!”

Having been introduced to the wonders of eBird, I have found the facility to be invaluable on my travels and promote the site to anyone I meet. Lately however, I noticed a peculiar thing on my checklists. The name of the bird, which had previously appeared on the checklist in a familiar black script, had changed to blue. I wondered if my computer was doing odd things and thought no more about it. But today, a slip of the keyboard sent me all of a quiver when the picture of an Oriental Magpie appeared on the screen.

Credit and copyright – Ting-Wei Hung

I had been checking over a checklist from Hong Kong and realised that a split from Eurasian Magpie must have been made since my last visit, but had somehow passed me by. I absent-mindedly clicked on the bird’s name and tian na!, up came a confirming picture. The blue script indicated a link to the Macaulay Library, the vast repository of eBirders’ photos.

Credit and copyright – Ting-Wei Hung

I clicked the next bird on the list and another photograph was displayed. This time of a Collared Crow. Fascinated, I scrolled down and found more photographs, a range map and an audio representation of the bird’s call.

Try it out on your own checklists, or if you are not already registered, try it out on a 10,000 Birds.com Collaborative List example. Simply click this link, choose a checklist and click on any blue entry. If you click on the top entry and then scroll through the glorious photographs, it brings an otherwise dry checklist to life.

I hadn’t had much occasion to click the “Science” heading for a while. It’s right next to my “eBird” and another inadvertent click brought forth the wonder that is the new abundance animation maps. Re-booted for December, like a murmuration of starlings, the range maps roll and roil to the tune of the seasons. “How marvelous would it be,” I thought, “if you could zoom in on these maps.” And then I found BirdVis.

You will have already realised that I am an eBird fan, but these superb upgrades makes it the fatball at the feeding station of birding software.

Written by Redgannet
Redgannet worked for more than 35 years as a flight attendant for an international airline. He came to birding late in his career but, considering the distractions, doesn't regret the missed opportunities. He was paid to visit six continents and took full advantage of the chance to bird the world. He adopted the nom de blog, Redgannet, to avoid remonstrations from his overbearing employer, but secretly hoped that the air of mystery would make him more attractive to women. Now grounded, he is looking forward to seeing the seasons turn from a fixed point.