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eBird’s 2015 in review; make eBird your New Year’s Resolution for 2016!

Steller's Sea-Eagle

eBird began in 2002, 14 years ago. In that time, eBird has grown in leaps and bounds from version 1.0, thanks to efforts of eBirders everywhere. We hear from thousands of people each year who tell us how eBird has changed their birding habits for the better, has taught them about bird occurrence in their area and when traveling, has helped them learn more about birds, and has made their birding more fun. We also hear from many who say that they want to submit to eBird more often or that they “keep meaning to get started” but have yet to “take the plunge.” Together, let’s make 2016 the year without regret! For 2016, make your New Year’s Resolution to use eBird! With the advent of new mobile technology and a continually refined data entry process, eBird is easier to use than ever. Give it a try today, for yourself, for birders everywhere, and for the birds we all care about.

Every bird observation has value. Whether it is a rare bird from a remote Philippine island that has never before been reported to eBird, or an observation of a common backyard bird in the city—every sighting you contribute is helpful. The world is a big place, and to understand what is truly happening with bird populations requires contributions from as many people as possible. To date, more than 270,000 people have submitted sightings to eBird, totaling more than 283 million bird observations from every country on earth. Although every sighting is absolutely useful, we would also like to make sure that you understand how carefully chosen locations, checklists that include all species you observed, and checklists that have information about distance and time are most valuable for science and research.

In 2016, Resolve To:

  • Enter sightings in eBird. One checklist per day keeps the doctor away. If you aren’t sure how to get started, we’ve got you covered—learn more here.
  • Introduce someone else to eBird. If you already submit to eBird consistently, THANK YOU! But please consider helping someone new get started with eBird as your New Year’s Resolution. Surely you have a friend or birding acquaintance who could use a bit of help getting started with the eBird website, understanding how to collect and submit a complete checklist, or how to get eBird Mobile working on his or her phone. If you are a part of a local email list or Facebook group, challenge those friends to make eBird their New Year’s Resolution as well.
  • Learn more about your local bird community. New birders sometimes feel like their data aren’t “interesting” enough to submit. This simply is not true. eBird is intended for anyone and everyone. Having this information coming in from everywhere gives us the powerful ability to learn about birds at a location, or about a specific bird species across its entire range. This is only the tip of the iceberg for exploring the information that eBird has to offer.
  • Enter some historic sightings. Longtime birders sometimes tell us that they don’t participate in eBird because they could never get all their old records into the system. This shouldn’t be a barrier—the birds you are seeing today are valuable data points that are being lost with every day you delay. While we understand that impulse to want a complete birding history in one place, we really encourage you to try to submit consistently for 2016. For those that do want to upload their older data, our eBird upload story explains how. Data from most birding software packages can be uploaded as well, information about that can be found here.

eBird continues to get better and better, and we are committed to continuing that in 2016. Here are a few of our highlights from 2015:

eBird’s 2015 In Review

  • Adding photos and recordings to your checklists is now a simple drag-and-drop away. The eBird/Macaulay Library media upload tool is perhaps the most significant new development since eBird went global in 2010. By harnessing eBirders’ passion for taking photos and recording bird sounds, we are able to build a global archive of avian media, helping document sightings worldwide, and building the foundation for many exciting new tools in the future.
  • eBird is Mobile and Global! One app, 8 languages, worldwide—100% free. eBird Mobile is now available for both iOS and Android, putting eBird data entry at your fingertips, wherever you are. If you haven’t given it a try yet, now is the time!
  • Global Big Day! On one day in May, more than 14,000 birders joined in as a part of something bigger—a 24-hour event where more than 6,000 species were reported to eBird, from 44,173 checklists. Join us on May 14, 2016 for the next Global Big Day!
  • Our eBird team grew by four new members: Tom Auer is now generating the state-of-the-art animated maps (stay tuned for some new ones soon!); Dan Serpiello and Dave Huffman have been developing the Android and iOS eBird Mobile apps; and Ian Davies has been helping out with various duties across eBird.
  • The Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II—the first Breeding Bird Atlas to be have data collection entirely through eBird. The first year of the atlas came close to collecting as much data as the previous atlas did in all five years—learn more here.
  • Developed partnerships and new portals in PortugalTaiwanIndia, Turkey, and Brasil. These new partnerships and regional portals have brought thousands of new eBirders on board, helping build communities and provide more valuable information about birds worldwide.
  • Added new languages for the eBird website: German; Chinese; Turkish; and Russian—while also adding bird names in more than 20 new languages and regional versions. You can see a full list of those here: eBird Common Names.
  • Zeiss and Princeton University Press have allowed us to run competitions with generous gifts (new binoculars and great bird books!) to thank our eBird community for their commitment to submit observations in the best possible way. We are excited to continue our eBirder of the Month awards in 2016 and we thank everyone who participated in 2015. Will you be an eBirder of the Month next year?
  • Published several papers including—”Can Observation Skills of Citizen Scientists Be Estimated Using Species Accumulation Curves“—showing that involvement in a citizen science project like eBird can actually improve your ability to detect birds.
  • eBird gear is now available! We are thrilled every time we are out in the field and see people wearing eBird shirts and hats, and hope you are too. Even if the holidays have passed, keep these in mind as a nice gift for an eBirder you know!
  • Continued to provide eBird data as a free resource to anyone via our Data Download page, accessed via Explore Data. This is not to be undersold, as these data downloads make much of the above possible and set eBird apart with its revolutionary open data access. This fall we crossed the threshold of 40,000 downloads of eBird data, not including the tens of thousands more that use the Explore Data pages.
  • Crossed 275 million bird observations, making eBird the largest single contributor to GBIF. As of 20 December 2015, 283.7 million sightings worldwide!

Our New Year’s Resolution at eBird is to continue our pursuit of excellence as a ground-breaking system for entering checklists of birds, finding bird information, and connecting the global birdwatching community to science and conservation—while at the same time enjoying, reporting, and sharing sightings of the birds that we all love. We are excited to expand our team in 2016 to provide more technical support for both the mobile and web platforms. We look forward to growing our mobile functionality this coming year, bringing data exploration and My eBird elements into the free mobile app. We will be working on improving the social aspect of eBird by adding options for personal profiles and the ability to be contacted by other users. We will continue to work with partners worldwide to adapt eBird to new places, in new languages, and with new approaches.

With every day and year that passes, we continue to grow and innovate—thanks to all for your contributions. We look forward to having your sightings in 2016 as we make this the best year yet for eBird and eBirders worldwide.