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eBird checklist review messages

By Team eBird July 20, 2018
Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis

We are excited to announce a small change to the checklist view page that reflects an important part of eBird’s data quality. Every eBird record goes through a review process to make sure that the publicly-displayed data are useful for eBirders everywhere. This data quality process occurs on two basic levels: the checklist (e.g., did the checklist cover a single birding spot or an entire country?), and the species (e.g., was the species correctly identified, counted properly). We have now added new messages that highlight the importance of the checklist review, how it impacts public display of records, and, in some cases, how checklists can be improved to make them useful for science and your fellow eBirders.

The more familiar of eBird’s two review channels is the species review, which tries to ensure that the species identification is correct. You see this process in action when you get a note in eBird or eBird Mobile asking to provide written details or photos or audio to help support your sighting. Our reviewers analyze notable records, using known patterns of distribution and movement and any recent sightings of that species, as well as your provided information, to decide if the unusual report is sufficiently documented for inclusion in the public (and therefore scientific) datasets. This process is described in detail here and our reviewer Lauren Harter helped with a great article on how to provide good documentation.

The first level of this process is to make sure the checklist information is correct. These include questions like: Is the location correctly plotted? Is the precision of the checklist sufficient for science use (e.g., not an entire county, state, or country)? Is the date precise? Was this an observation of birds on a specific and correct date and location or was this a checklist that was an entry of life list records from multiple dates and locations?

We have ten messages that are specific to how the various reasons for why we might not display checklists publicly or use them for science. You can read more about these here.

As always, the eBird review process has no impact on your personal stats in eBird. Everything in My eBird, plus your Top100 and Yard/Patch totals, are considered your personal data.

We hope that these new checklist notifications help bring more clarity to the review process, why it is important, and how it affects use of data in eBird’s public and scientific products.