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December eBirder of the Month Challenge

Great Gray Owl
Great Gray Owl

This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, focuses on documenting your eBird sightings using photos and audio. As announced in early November, we are ecstatic to have our Media Upload tool available across eBird—a partnership with the Macaulay Library that now allows you to drag-and-drop your media right into any eBird checklist, archiving it in Macaulay. This new tool has been met with happiness from the eBirding community, and we have been delighted to watch thousands of photos and audio recordings rolling in each day, all thanks to the efforts of eBirders like you. To encourage people to help build this burgeoning media collection, the challenge this month focuses on collecting media as part of your eBirding efforts. The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit at least 15 complete no-X checklists containing rich media in December. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

With the launch of the new rich media upload tool last month, we have entered a new era of natural history documentation at eBird. More than 125,000 rich media files have been submitted over the past several weeks thanks to the contributions of eBirders worldwide. This collection provides an amazing repository of natural history information, where each piece of media is linked to an eBird checklist; complete with location information, date and time, and often the other birds using that location at the same time. On the eBird side, these photos and recordings provide documentation for the eBird observation—creating an objectively verifiable record that can serve as a “digital specimen” for each of these sightings.

As more eBirders add their media, the ability to create new and exciting eBird tools continues to grow. One of our next steps will be creating an advanced media search tool that will allow you to explore photos and recordings worldwide—whether it be in a certain region, specific date range, and for whatever species you’d like. We’ll also eventually have a Media Top 100—if you start loading your media in now you can get a jump on the competition! Another amazing future tool will be using the huge collection of images from eBirders worldwide to expand Merlin and the Merlin Photo ID tool beyond North America—providing an introductory-level resource for birders everywhere. This is merely a sampling of our future ideas, and with your media, they can be realized!

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Plymouth, MA

In addition, taking and looking at photos is just plain fun. All of us here at eBird have a blast trying to get a good photo, or even taking a not-so-great photo to document something unusual (or something common!). With more people out there taking photos of birds, we’ve been able to document natural history events like never before. In mid-November, the large Franklin’s Gull incursion to the eastern United States was represented through hundreds of photos, some of which can be seen here. With the availability of eBird as a repository for these images, we were able to capture a snapshot of this special event like never before.

So go on out there—take a photo with your cellphone through your binoculars, or make a high resolution recording of a bird calling in your yard. Create an eBird checklist, add your media, and become part of the future of birding.

Each month we will feature a new eBird challenge and set of selection criteria. The monthly winners will each receive a new ZEISS Conquest HD 8×42 binocular.

Carl Zeiss Sports Optics is a proven leader in sports optics and is the official optics sponsor for eBird. “Carl Zeiss feels strongly that by partnering with the Cornell Lab we can provide meaningful support for their ability to carry out their research, conservation, and education work around the world,” says Mike Jensen,  President of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, North America. “The Cornell Lab is making a difference for birds, and from the highest levels of our company we’re committed to promoting birding and the Lab’s work, so there’s a great collaboration. eBird is a truly unique and synergistic portal between the Lab and birders, and we welcome the opportunity to support them both.”

Find out more:

eBirder of the Month