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10 million bird observations from India

By eBird India May 26, 2018
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata

eBird went global in 2010, and in January 2014 the Bird Count India partnership began to encourage birdwatchers in India to use the platform so that observations of Indian birds could be collated in one place. The reason for this? To gather the sightings of birdwatchers together for a better understanding of our birds: for education, research and conservation.

Today, 4.5 years later, we are delighted to announce that the nearly 12,000 eBirders in India have collectively crossed these milestones:

  • Observations of over 1,300 Indian species.
  • More than half a million bird checklists from India. (Explore here.)
  • Over 200,000 media (photos and audio). (Browse them all here.)
  • More than 10 million observations in all (growing from 100,000 in January 2014 to 2 million in November 2015, 5 million in Jan 2017, and 10 million in May 2018).

What does all this signify? Here are some ways in which these efforts add to our knowledge of Indian birds.

Distribution

With modern field guides, the distributional ranges of our species have been clarified to a great degree. But the field guides don’t always agree with one another about this! With eBird, we can understand current up-to-date distributions of birds and zoom to see the specific sightings in any place.

Distributions of species as shown by birdwatchers’ observations in eBird. Red-whiskered Bulbul (left) shows a curious gap in its distribution. Details of the patchy distribution of Black-and-rufous Flycatcher (right) are revealed.

Explore range maps of all Indian species using eBird’s map feature.

Seasonal movements

The information uploaded to eBird also helps to understand various kinds of seasonal movements of birds, from the within-country migration of Verditer Flycatcher…

Monthly movements of Verditer Flycatcher across India.

… to the elevational migration of Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher…

… and how the Pied Cuckoo is the harbinger of the monsoon in central and northern India (details here).

Explore the seasonality of Indian birds for yourself using the ‘bar charts’ feature, and change the location to any place you wish.

Abundance

We can now go beyond simple words like “common”, “rare”, or the great favourite “not uncommon”, and use the frequency of complete eBird birdlists that report a species as a rough indicator of abundance.

The top-five reported species in each of four major regions of India during the 2018 Great Backyard Bird Count.

And thanks to eBirders who dug out their notebooks and have uploaded their birdlists from the past, it is becoming possible to travel back in time and understand, at least crudely, how abundances of different species may have changed over the years.

A preliminary analysis of change in abundance (as measured by frequency of reporting) of four species in northern India.

Media

Over 200,000 photos of more than 1,200 Indian species have been uploaded to the eBird/Macaulay library platform. There are also over 6,000 audio recordings of Indian birds. These can be used to understand plumage variations in different regions and seasons, delineate subspecies boundaries and so much more.

A selection of photos from India uploaded and available to view on eBird/Macaulay Library. You can browse all photos and audio from India.

Explore how complete the collection of photos and audio is through the illustrated checklist for India, and consider contributing your own work to this effort!

 

Thank you to each and every eBirder who has helped build this unique database on Indian birds. We look forward to the information collated here being increasingly used in research and for the conservation of our precious birds.

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