Tag Archive | eBird

Finding Birds with eBird

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Note: You don’t have to be an eBird user or have an eBird account to do this. Anyone with an internet connection can use eBird as a resource, so please read on.

eBird, the online database of bird sightings, has many useful features that birders can use to study patterns of bird movements in time and space. The one I use the most is the Interactive Range and Point Maps. This shows a map of all sightings reported for a particular species for any place and time specified. You can set the time period to be as long or as short as you like, and thus see the distribution of the bird.

By setting a short time period of the most recent month or two, you can find out what is being seen in your birding area right now. I will run through an example of the process to show how you can easily find out exactly where your target bird has been seen.

Step 1: Go to the eBird Website home page. (In the example it is eBird Canada, but you could also use the US site.) Your screen will look something like this:

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Step 2: Click the “Explore Data” tab. There will be three choices: Range and Point Maps, Bar Charts, and Line Graphs.

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Step 3: Select “Range and Point Maps” to bring up the world map.

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Step 4: Specify the date range for your search.  Click the “Date” tab (which is defaulted to “Year-Round, All Years) to select a time period. In the example, I set it to December only of the current year. It was early December when I did this example, so only sightings from the previous few days would be shown. Then click “Set Date Range” in the green box.

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Step 5: Select the target species. A new screen has come up with the date range set to “Dec-Dec, Current Year”. Go to the “Species” box and type in the bird. I used “Snowy Owl” in the example. As you type, various species possibilities that fit what you have typed so far will show in the blue box below. Once the correct species name appears in the blue box, click it to select the species.

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Step 6: Zoom in on the map to see sightings in your area. You could also at this point set the location (to Calgary, for example) in the upper right-hand box, but it is just as easy to zoom in on the Calgary area by double-clicking your mouse or scrolling your mouse wheel until you get close. Any area that is purple on the map will have at least one Snowy Owl sighting.

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Below, I have zoomed in to the Calgary area. Paydirt! Snowy Owls have been reported inside the two purple rectangles. Now I just have to zoom in a little closer on them to see the exact locations.

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Step 7: Get the sighting data from a point location. The two red teardrops show the exact locations reported for Snowy Owls. By clicking on them, you bring up the sighting information. In the example, I clicked the westernmost teardrop and discovered that it was Daniel Arndt who reported one owl on December 1. You could now scroll in some more to see a close-up map of the area with the names of the roads. But you can also get more information from Dan’s checklist.

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Step 8: See the checklist from the reported sighting.  Click “Checklist” next to the name of the observer, to bring up all the particulars of the sighting. If there had been other species seen at that location, they would have been listed there.

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Step 8: See the location on a Google map. On the above screen, click “Map” at the end of the location line to get a Google map with the precise location and GPS coordinates. You can now drive to the exact spot where Dan saw this owl, where, if you’re lucky, it will be still be sitting on the same pole.

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Give this a try to see how easy it is to find out what’s being seen in your area. Of course, the only sightings you’ll find are those submitted by eBird users, so the more people using eBird, the better!

Links:

eBird Canada

eBird US

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Random Birding Photos – Calgary catch-up day, Easter in Jasper

Posted byDan Arndt

Aside from co-leading one of the weekend walks with the Friends of Fish Creek, I do like to get out and get some birding in while I’m away on vacations, trips, or even after work once the evenings get a bit longer. In my attempt this year to reach 200 species in Alberta (which is about the same number as I had on my total life list in January) I signed up for a number of alerts on eBird to assist me in getting the birds I hadn’t seen so far for the year. In early March, I took a Saturday morning to catch up on some species that had been plaguing me for quite some time: Gray Partridge, Harris’s Sparrow, and some overwintering Cedar Waxwings were on my “Needs” list, and I was able to get all three, along with a couple of bonuses; American Tree Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco.

Gray Partridge

Gray Partridge

Harris's Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Then, over the Easter weekend, the better half and I took a trip up to Jasper. As a Calgary boy, born and raised here my entire life, I had never made it to Jasper, and I have to say that it was well worth the drive. I was hoping for a bit better birding opportunity while I was up there enjoying the crisp mountain air, but there were two birds I was really hoping for on the trip: White-tailed Ptarmigan, and Mountain Chickadees. Another bonus bird that I added to my list was Clark’s Nutcracker.

White-tailed Ptarmigan

White-tailed Ptarmigan

White-tailed Ptarmigan

How's that for camouflage?

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

As an addendum, I would highly recommend this book: “Birding Jasper National Park” if you’re heading to that area. It was indispensable in my ability to find the birds I was looking for, as well as the best birding locations in and around the townsite. It’s incredibly affordable too, at a meagre $5.00, and is available in the store at the Jasper National Park Information building right in town.

Birding Jasper National Park

Birding Jasper National Park

eBird

“Global tools for birders, critical data science”.

This one line sums up eBird perfectly. eBird is an online checklist program for birders that has changed the way we submit and access data for the better. This program enables you to easily view data submitted from across the globe by birdwatchers.

Well how does it work? eBird gets many thousands of birders engaged in contributing to a huge online database. You simply fill in a checklist on your birding trip; the who, what, when and where of the outing and then submit the form. eBird stores the data and allows you to view your own lists of what you have seen for the month, for the year, for a certain location and so on. Rare birds get flagged by the data quality filters and are then reviewed by local experts. Once a rare bird has been confirmed it is accessible for all to see via rare bird alerts, allowing others to share in the discovery. Your checklist goes to the database to help scientists accumulate information on birds and helps them to determine species ranges, bird distribution and other such data which can help save endangered birds. As they explain on the website: “any contribution made to eBird increases our understanding of the distribution, richness, and uniqueness of the biodiversity of our planet.” I look forward to seeing many observations submitted to eBird from you!

http://ebird.org/content/ebird/

Posted by Matthew Sim