I was first introduced to eBird during our second week in lab. Upon my first introduction to this website, it seemed to me that this was simply a platform to share my bird counts with other citizen scientists. However, it wasn’t until this past Tuesday’s lab that I was able to make full use of eBird. I never would have guessed how useful it could be.
Our old friend, the Field Guide
There is only so much a Field Guide can tell you. For example, the Sibley Field Guide offers information portrayed in range maps, bird illustrations, bird status, bird habitat, bird behavior, and bird voice. While this may seem like a lot of information, if you really want to do some in-depth research on a particular bird species, eBird is the place to go.
This begs the question: Why would someone need to do research on birds in the first place? It all begins with a question. Maybe you wonder why you haven’t been seeing a certain bird that usually shows up at this time of the year or maybe you want to know what the best location is to spot a specific bird species. Both of these inquiries and many more can be answered using eBird.
Key features of eBird
Once on the site, to answer any questions, you will navigate your way to the Explore Data tab on the top bar. This page will give you access to 6 main features: Explore a Region, Explore Hotspots, Species Maps, Bar Charts, Line Graphs, Submission Map.
Explore a Region
The Explore a Region feature allows you to directly search for any location across the world and see data on the species found in that particular area.
The Explore Hotspots feature allows you to find places that you could potentially visit if you want have a sure-guarantee of seeing a particular bird. Clicking on these hotspots will tell you a specific count of how many bird species were spotted in that area.
I found the Species Maps feature to be the most interesting. This feature allows you to track migration patterns of a bird species across the course of the year. This can be especially useful if you want to know if the bird will be in your area during breeding season.
Bar Charts, Line Graphs
Both the Bar Charts and the Line Graphs features allow you to graphically view the distribution of bird data (frequency, abundance, bids per hour, average count, high count, and totals) across a monthly basis. It also allows you to view the number checklists that were submitted for each month.
Finally, while the Submission Map feature may not necessarily help you in your research, it can show you who is currently entering data onto eBird. This feature is useful for seeing the distribution of bird count submissions across the world.