This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, will keep get you snapping photos and recording bird sounds. Every time you take a photo or hold out a microphone, you’re creating an incredibly powerful piece of data. Media help document records, provide resources for learning and education, and also pave the way for future eBird and birding tools like Merlin Photo ID. The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists in September containing at least one rated photo or sound. Checklists must be for observations during this month; not historical checklists entered during September. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.
Ever since satellite technology has been small enough to put on a bird, researchers have been using transmitters to ask questions about birds that were previously unanswerable. Although some questions still can’t be answered with anything aside from satellites (e.g., precise paths of migrating birds throughout their entire annual cycle), a paper published recently in Global Ecology and Conservation shows that eBird data can be comparable to satellite data when creating species distribution models. The authors of the open-access paper “Species distribution models for a migratory bird based on citizen science and satellite tracking data” have written a great account of their research on Band-tailed Pigeons (below). Thanks to Chris Coxen, Jennifer Frey, Scott Carleton, and Dan Collins for taking the time to share their work with the eBird community.
Even the most experienced birders express apprehension about their eBird checklists. So, it’s not surprising that teachers worry about their students’ data – they often wonder, what if the data is not good enough for the eBird database? What if something goes wrong? What if a species is misidentified? What if the date of the sighting is entered incorrectly? These are understandable concerns, given that most students are new to birding and that scientists and people around the world rely on the quality of the data. Without question, the accuracy of eBird data is important, but it shouldn’t keep you up at night. Professionals at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have designed the eBird program to evaluate the vast amount of data entered each year, and you have the tools to help your students make the cut, every time.