Launched in 2002, eBird is the premiere online storing house for bird sightings. eBird is citizen science at its finest: an easy to use place for individuals to submit bird sightings from all over the world that when put together forms a usable resource for bird conservationists all over.
How it works (bare basics)
- User enters bird sightings via checklist style form
- Checklists are added to the pool of other checklists
- Other users including bird conservationists along with birders can look up data and even make graphs
Over time and with more users, eBird collects more data. Recently, the one millionth checklist was submitted, but this barely scratches the surface of the full potential of eBird. This is where Bird Clubs can really help out.
In Illinois there are several bird clubs including a state wide organization, the Illinois Ornithological Society (IOS). Locally, we belong to the North Central Illinois Ornithological Society (NCIOS) and there are several other bird clubs throughout the state. But, when I did a presentation for NCIOS about using the internet for birding, a show of hands yielded no birders in a group of thirty or so that were familiar with eBird. Zero, zilch, nada!
More evidence of the lacking of submissions: eBird keeps track of checklists submitted by state. January had 460+ checklists for Illinois. IBET, the rare bird and sighting sharing group has over 1,000 members. The Birdfreak Team submitted 10 checklists in January, low for us. If you do the math, not many birders are adding their data to the pool.
So, for Citizen Science Month we have a challenge. If you belong to a bird club, see about getting your club involved in eBird submissions. Even if it is just designating one person on a bird hike to add the day’s tally into the system, the data together will help build the big picture on bird population trends.