Make eBird your New Year's resolution

By eBird India December 29, 2015
Orange-headed-thrush2_Ramki-cropped

Orange-headed Thrush. Photo by Ramki Sreenivasan.

eBird began in 2002, 14 years ago. In that time, eBird has grown in leaps and bounds from version 1.0, thanks to efforts of eBirders across the globe. In India, growth has been extremely rapid since January 2014. We hear from a large number of people each year who tell us how eBird has changed their birding habits for the better, has helped them learn more about birds, and has made their birding more fun. We also hear from many who say that they want to use eBird more often or that they keep meaning to get started. So, let’s together make our New Year’s Resolution to use eBird — more frequently and more intensively! With the advent of new mobile technology and a continually refined data entry process, eBird is easier to use than ever. Give it a try today!

Every bird observation has value. Whether it is a rare bird from a remote Nicobar island that has never before been reported to eBird, or an observation of a common species in the city—every sighting contributed is helpful. The world is a big place, and to understand what is truly happening with bird populations requires contributions from as many people as possible. Globally, more than 270,000 people have contributed sightings to eBird, totalling more than 283 million bird observations from every country on earth. In India, over 4,000 birders have uploaded nearly 2.5 million observations. Every sighting is absolutely useful; at the same time, carefully chosen locations, checklists that include all species observed, and checklists that have information about distance and time are most valuable for research and conservation.

In 2016, Resolve To:

  • Enter sightings in eBird. One checklist per day keeps the doctor away. If you aren’t sure how to get started take a look at our beginner’s guide for Indian eBirders.
  • Introduce someone else to eBird. If you already contribute to eBird consistently, THANK YOU! Please also consider helping someone new get started with eBird as your New Year’s Resolution. Surely you have a friend or birding acquaintance who could use a bit of help getting started with the eBird website, understanding how to collect and submit a complete checklist, or how to get eBird Mobile working on his or her phone. If you are a part of a local email list or Facebook group, challenge those friends to make eBird their New Year’s Resolution as well.
  • Learn more about your local birds. New birders sometimes feel like their observations aren’t interesting enough to submit. This simply is not true. eBird is intended for anyone and everyone. Having this information coming in from everywhere enables the  ability to learn about birds at a location, or about a specific bird species across its entire range. This is only the tip of the iceberg for exploring the information that eBird has to offer.
  • Enter some historic sightings. Longtime birders sometimes tell us that they don’t participate in eBird because they could never get all their old records into the system. This shouldn’t be a barrier—the birds you are seeing today are valuable data points that are being lost with every day you delay. While we understand that impulse to want a complete birding history in one place, we really encourage you to try to submit consistently for 2016. For those that do want to upload their older data, our eBird upload story explains how. Data from most birding software packages can be uploaded as well, information about that can be found here.

eBird continues to get better and better, and we are committed to continuing that in 2016. Here are a few of our highlights from 2015:

eBird’s 2015 In Review

  • Adding photos and recordings to your checklists is now a simple drag-and-drop away. The eBird/Macaulay Library media upload tool is perhaps the most significant new development since eBird went global in 2010. By harnessing eBirders’ passion for taking photos and recording bird sounds, we are able to build a global archive of avian media, helping document sightings worldwide, and building the foundation for many exciting new tools in the future.
  • eBird is Mobile and Global! One app, 8 languages, worldwide—100% free. eBird Mobile is now available for both iOS and Android, putting eBird data entry at your fingertips, wherever you are. If you haven’t given it a try yet, now is the time!
  • Global Big Day! On one day in May, more than 14,000 birders joined in as a part of something bigger—a 24-hour event where more than 6,000 species were reported to eBird, from 44,173 checklists. Join us on May 14, 2016 for the next Global Big Day! In India, Global Big Day is called Endemic Bird Day.
  • The eBird Central team grew by four new members: Tom Auer is now generating the state-of-the-art animated maps (stay tuned for some new ones soon!); Dan Serpiello and Dave Huffman have been developing the Android and iOS eBird Mobile apps; and Ian Davies has been helping out with various duties across eBird.
  • Developed partnerships and new portals in PortugalTaiwanIndia, Turkey, and Brasil. These new partnerships and regional portals have helped build communities and provide more valuable information about birds worldwide.
  • Added new languages for the eBird website: German; Chinese; Turkish; and Russian—while also adding bird names in more than 20 new languages and regional versions, including Malayalam. You can see a full list of those here: eBird Common Names.
  • Continued to provide eBird data as a free resource to anyone via our Data Download page, accessed via Explore Data. This is not to be undersold, as these data downloads make much of the above possible and set eBird apart with its revolutionary open data access. This fall we crossed the threshold of 40,000 downloads of eBird data, not including the tens of thousands more that use the Explore Data pages.
  • Crossed 275 million bird observations, making eBird the largest single contributor to GBIF. As of 20 December 2015, 283.7 million sightings worldwide.

Our New Year’s Resolution at eBird is to continue our pursuit of excellence as a ground-breaking system for entering checklists of birds, finding bird information, and connecting the global birdwatching community to science and conservation—while at the same time enjoying, reporting, and sharing sightings of the birds that we all love. We are excited to expand our team in 2016 to provide more technical support for both the mobile and web platforms. We look forward to growing our mobile functionality this coming year, bringing data exploration and My eBird elements into the free mobile app. We will be working on improving the social aspect of eBird by adding options for personal profiles and the ability to be contacted by other users. We will continue to work with partners worldwide to adapt eBird to new places, in new languages, and with new approaches.

With every day and year that passes, we continue to grow and innovate—thanks to all for your contributions. We look forward to your sightings in 2016 as we make this the best year yet for eBird and eBirders worldwide.

[Modified from a post on the eBird global portal.]