eBird Targets update

By Team eBird July 22, 2016

A couple years ago, we released eBird Targets. Honestly, it’s one of our team’s favorite features in eBird. It’s not so focused on chasing the latest rarity (also fun) but giving you a list of birds to look for that would be new for you. Wherever you are in the world, pick a region of interest (county, state, province, or country), choose whether you want lifers or year birds and voilá—eBird magic. Now we’ve added a bit more magic: month and day targets. “Month targets” are probably intuitive—these are birds that have been reported in that region and specified date range that you haven’t seen during that month. “Day targets” are the same, but for one day. Have you ever been curious what your lifetime July 23rd list was, and what species you might be most likely to add? Okay, well, you probably haven’t, but you can’t deny that you’re wondering what it is now! How about February 29? Next Leap Year just got a lot more interesting… For those of you that are shaking your head, read on and see why day and month targets are both fun and informative, and give Targets a try!

Bird listing. For many, this is the driving factor behind an interest in the natural world—an innate urge to catalogue everything around you, parse out the unusual bit, and see how you compare against others. Others may vehemently deny the label of “lister”. No matter which end of this spectrum you sit on, it can’t be denied that the power of listing is a powerful driver of innovation and progress in eBird and other similar platforms: the union of good-natured competition, personal fulfillment, and fun games.

Time to go to the local bog for the Alder Flycatcher!

What to do when birding around eBird HQ in July? Looks like Ian Davies (whose account we’re viewing) better head to the local bog for an Alder Flycatcher for his July Tompkins County list!

We see the addition of these eBird Targets for days and months as an exciting way to reinvigorate your interest in birding your local area, no matter the time of year—harnessing that interest in collection and knowledge in a fun fashion. For many, interest in birding peaks with the migration cycles; when there is constant turnover in your local birds, each day holds something exciting, and the possibilities are seemingly limitless. There are few things more magical than being outside on a crisp May morning as the dawn chorus unveils the new day. At other times of year, like a sweltering morning in July and August, many birders don’t feel that same sense of wonderment—but that isn’t to say that it’s not there to be found!

In this post-breeding window, birds are doing some fascinating things. Forest interior birds move to the edges and second-growth habitats. Wetland species may wander widely as late-summer heat changes water availability in regions. Check out the eBirder of the Month Challenge for more info on this. eBird Targets are a great excuse to get out in the field when you may not normally do so, finding many birds that you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. What are your eBird Targets for your area in July? How about for today? How many of those do you think you could get in the morning before work? There’s only one way to find out…

This new targets functionality is also the portal into seeing your lifetime Day list and Month List. Just click the hyperlink at the top where it says, for example: “83 species observed in Tompkins County, New York, US in Jul that you need for your Tompkins County Month List (118 species)”. The 118 species is hyperlinked and clicking it takes you to your lifetime list for the county for that month. The same is true for the Day Lists. We’ll be adding better tools to explore these lists soon, but we did not want to delay in getting this in the hands of eBirders to liven up summer birding.

Great Egret—a classic late-summer wanderer in North America. Photo by Charles Shields/Macaulay Library.

Great Egret—a classic post-breeding or post-fledging wanderer worldwide, and prime target for many days! Photo by Charles Shields/Macaulay Library.

Thanks to all of the sightings that you’ve contributed to eBird, these tools will continue to expand and improve into the future. Having specific target species helps get many people out into the field more often, which leads to more information, which leads to more targets for more people! Delightful feedback cycles that do nothing but provide more information for birders, researchers, and conservationists.

Now please excuse us if we’re tardy in responding to emails over the weekend…we’ll be working on our July 23 and 24 lists!