If you are an eBirder from India, please ensure that your lists are tagged as part of the eBird India portal, and you will be helping India meet its international biodiversity commitments. How so? Read on to find out!
What is the eBird India portal?
The eBird India portal was launched on 15 August 2015. The India web portal represented a major development in how Indian birders could interact with eBird. The photos on the portal are of Indian species and birdwatchers, and various parts of the portal reflect our within-country efforts to reach out to birdwatchers. Additionally, the locations default to India when looking at species maps, hotspot maps, seasonal charts and more.
On the eBird mobile app, you can specify which portal you want your lists to be tagged with — but this currently doesn’t make a difference to how the app works.
Why should we tag our lists to the India portal?
The broad reason to do this is so that your lists and observations are clearly credited to birding and outreach efforts that originate within India. If you are an Indian birder travelling abroad, keep using the India portal and your lists are ‘credited’ to India! This happens because whenever your lists are uploaded under the India portal, they are marked in the eBird database with the tag EBIRD_IND, regardless of where in the world you are birding. Conversely, if an American birder travels to India and uses the default portal, her lists are ‘credited’ to the USA (with the default tag EBIRD).
How does this credit matter? One immediate reason is so that when eBird uploads all its information to the official worldwide database of species information (the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, or GBIF), it can clearly state which data originated from which country. At the moment, all eBird data on GBIF is tagged as having originated in the USA, because eBird’s parent organization (Cornell University) is in that country. But the excellent news is that from this year onwards, eBird is going to tag the data by country of origin — and this is where the India portal comes in.
If you use the India portal for your eBirding, all your effort is counted as India’s effort. In fact, putting information on GBIF is an official indicator used by the Convention on Biological Diversity (aka CBD) to track the progress of countries towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 19 on the sharing of knowledge and data on biodiversity. So by using the eBird India portal, we put our data on GBIF, and therefore help fulfil India’s international commitments.
How to tag your lists to the India portal
There are two ways to upload observations to eBird — through your web browser or your smartphone.
On your web browser, please make sure that you are uploading your lists via the India portal. The URL is the key. Rather than going to ebird.org (the default URL), please ensure that you go to ebird.org/india. All internal URLs will have the word “india” in them, for example http://ebird.org/ebird/india/submit when you submit a new list.
You can also reassign earlier checklists of yours to the India portal. Just open the link to your list, and on the lower part of the right panel, you’ll see a link to Change Portal. Choose eBird India from the options. If you don’t see eBird India as an option in the drop-down, then your list is already tagged to the India portal.
On your phone, you can choose which portal to use for all your lists. Open the app, click on the settings icon (bottom right), and under Portal, choose eBird India. All lists submitted from then on will be tagged to the India portal.
If you want to check whether an existing list of yours (or anyone else) is tagged to the India portal, just take the list number (something like S38599047) and add it to the default list URL to make
ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S38599047. When loading this link, if it automatically inserts and “india” in the middle to make
ebird.org/ebird/india/view/checklist/S38599047, then the list is tagged to the India portal; else not.
If you haven’t been using eBird through the India portal, please do consider starting now. And if you can, try and reassign your earlier lists to the India portal. Let’s make India shine on the map of global biodiversity information!