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December eBirder of the Month Challenge

Northern Saw-whet Owl by Jamin Taylor/Macaulay Library

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, highlights the value of splitting your day of birding into multiple lists. By keeping multiple lists throughout a morning or day of birding, the information that you’re collecting is much more valuable—both for your own personal records and for researchers and conservationists! Sound too difficult? Give it a try—it’s easier than you think, especially when you use eBird Mobile! If you’re out on a Christmas Bird Count this month, or just out on the weekend with a few friends, this is a perfect chance to take your eBirding up a notch. The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 3 or more eligible checklists in a single day in December. Each day that you submit 3 eligible checklists gives you one chance to win. Checklists must be for observations during this month, not historical checklists entered during December. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

VSO’s American Kestrel Nest Box Project UPDATE!

American Kestrel © Diane Sudyka

American Kestrels are a welcome presence throughout Virginia’s rural countryside, and a treat to observe in any season. The piercing cry of these magnificent little falcons echoing over farms and fields used to be a common occurrence, but not so much anymore.

According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the kestrel population nationwide decreased 47% from 1966 to 2011. Habitat degradation, pesticides, and a lack of suitable nesting cavities are all contributing factors. As with bluebirds, nest box programs have proven to be effective in bolstering populations, and to this end the Virginia Society of Ornithology has established the American Kestrel Nest Box Project.

November eBirder of the Month Challenge

Great Gray Owl by Robb Bell/Macaulay Library

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, invites you to look at birds through what might not be your usual lens: a camera. November marks one year since we released the ability to add photos and audio directly to your eBird checklists, archiving your media in the Macaulay Library. In this first year, we have been humbled to see more than 1.5 million photos added to the collection by eBirders, documenting more than 8,250 species of birds from 226 countries. If you haven’t uploaded a photo yet—this is your chance! An added bonus is that your photos help make your eBird Profile Page look fantastic. The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists with at least one photo or audio recording in November. Checklists must be for observations during this month, not historical checklists entered during November. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

VABBA2 Season One: A Win for Virginia’s Birds and Citizen Science

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Temperatures continue to drop, as Autumn arrives and we wrap-up the first season of the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2). Two things stand out about this summer’s field season. First, Virginia is an incredible place to survey birds. Between the mountains and valleys, the rolling Piedmont, and the rich Coastal Plain, Atlas volunteers identified over 205 species of birds and confirmed 174 of those species are currently breeding. They reported over 684,000 birds to the project! Interestingly, most of the data received this year comes from areas where the most people live. This makes sense! We tend to bird the areas closest to home first. However, just think what kind of data will be generated when volunteers expand out into the less birded parts of the state. There are so many awesome breeding records just waiting to be confirmed in the rural Piedmont or out in the mountains or even in your own neighborhood.

October eBirder of the Month Challenge

Eurasian Kestrel by Paulo Doutel/Macaulay Library

This month’s eBirder of the Month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, puts the power of easy eBirding in the palm of your hands. As technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds with every passing day and month, the birding tools that we can provide continue to improve. One of these such tools is eBird Mobile—a mobile data-entry app for eBird that makes it faster and easier to track your bird sightings than ever before. More than 110,000 people have downloaded eBird Mobile so far, using the app in 26 languages—come join the fun! The eBirder of the Month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists using eBird Mobile in October. Checklists must be for observations during this month, not historical checklists entered during October. Winners will be notified by the 10th of the following month.

Want a free birding trip to Trinidad & Tobago?

Purple Gallinule by Jerome Foster/Macaulay Library.

You’re in North America, it’s early 2017, and winter is everywhere. Bird song is nothing but a distant memory, and you yearn for warmth. Wouldn’t you rather be in Trinidad and Tobago? If you eBird, you could be—for free! We’re very happy to announce an exciting opportunity for a lucky eBirder and friend: two nights at the Asa Wright Nature Centre; complimentary roundtrip airfares for 2 people on JetBlue from either JFK (New York) or Fort Lauderdale, FL; and guided tours on the ground in Trinidad and Tobago. Thanks to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, JetBlue, and the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Board for their generous sponsorship. A lucky eBirder will be drawn randomly from among all eligible checklists submitted between Sept 15-Oct 31 2016. More lists, more chances to win. The winner will be notified by November 10.

eBird Mobile 1.3: breeding and behavior codes

Common Potoo—NY breeding code. Photo by Jose Luis Navarro/Macaulay Library

A new version of eBird Mobile (1.3) has just been released that lets you note breeding and behavior codes in your mobile checklists—available for free on both iOS and Android. This lets you track breeding bird activity more easily than ever before, and also lets you log flyover codes—which could win you a pair of binoculars this month! If you’ve never tried eBird Mobile, there has never been a better time to get started. More than 110,000 eBirders have used eBird Mobile so far, replacing the field notebook as the easiest and most accurate way to record your bird sightings in the field. Learn how to get started with eBird Mobile. This latest version also provides the technical foundation that will allow us to build in automatic tracking of distance within the app, sharing of checklists, and many other features that we want and plan to build into eBird Mobile. Every step is bringing us closer to having the full eBird website on your mobile device!

Explore and share your birding with eBird Profile Pages!

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320,000 eBirders and growing… You’ve looked through eBird checklists and seen their names: kindred birding spirits whose sightings you may have glimpsed only once, or followed regularly over months and years. Now, you can find out who the people are behind these names by exploring eBird’s new Profile Pages! Whether you’re a backyard birder or a globe-trotting world lister, eBird Profile Pages allow you to share your birding story with friends and the entire eBird community. This first version of your public eBird dashboard focuses on showcasing your eBird/Macaulay Library activity with tools that visualize all your sightings and highlight your recent media contributions—all updated with each new eBird contribution. We hope these Profile Pages provide a fun new way to visualize the contributions you’ve made to eBird and the Macaulay Library, inspire you to ‘fill in the gaps’ in your profile maps, and allow you to get to know other eBirders by exploring their Profile Pages. Enjoy meeting the global eBird community, and set up your eBird Profile Page today!

September eBirder of the Month Challenge

Osprey by Geoffrey Groom/Macaulay Library

This month’s eBirder of the month challenge, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, will keep your binoculars pointed towards the sky. As the seasons turn over in September, the movement of birds begins perhaps the best part of a birder’s year: migration. Whether you’re north of the equator for fall, or enjoying an austral spring, things are happening! Migratory restlessness may result in local movements of 10s of kilometers, or something as drastic as undertaking herculean journeys that take shorebirds from the Arctic to the edge of the southern continents. The most amazing part of all of this is that you can witness it, wherever you are. The eBirder of the month will be drawn from eBirders who submit 15 or more eligible checklists in September containing at least one “Flyover” code. 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.

Myth-busting the VABBA2: Tackling Atlas Blocks with Teamwork

'Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Parents' by Nancy Barnhart (Fantastic example of a confirmed breeder using ON, Occupied Nest)

If you’re involved in several large-scale birding citizen science projects these days, e.g. Breeding Bird Surveys, Project Nestwatch, Project Feederwatch, or the VABBA2, it’s easy to get confused about protocols and methods. They’re all different! This article is intended to provide additional guidance on how to survey an atlas block. Let’s start with some myths […]