One billion words

By Team eBird August 3, 2016

If a photo is worth a thousand words, then we have 1 billion words to offer. We’ve had an exciting summer here at the Cornell Lab. In June, we shared the news that your eBird contributions now total more than a third of a billion bird observations worldwide. Thanks to your efforts, eBird has become one of the largest biodiversity databases in the world. On July 31, we hit another big milestone: 1 million bird images archived in the Macaulay Library. The record-setting photo was a Blue-gray Tanager from Amazonas, Colombia, photographed by Caleb Scholtens. Since last November, 30,466 eBirders have contributed photos of 7,553 species from 216 countries. We have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible with this comprehensive digital documentation on a global scale, and eagerly look forward to more eBird/Macaulay tools in the future.

The primary driver for this recent explosion of media has been the eBird pipeline into the Macaulay Library collection. Beginning last November, any eBirder can add image and audio files into their checklists, automatically archiving them in Macaulay. And now, less than 9 months after release, more than a million bird images have been collected this way. This means more than a million photos are now documenting observations as digital specimens, available both for researchers to analyze and for fellow birders to enjoy. If you haven’t played around with the Explore Media tool, you’re missing out! And if you’ve never tried adding media to your sightings, there has never been a better time than now. This month, your checklists with photo and audio can win you a free pair of Zeiss binoculars!

The 1,000,000th photo in the Macaulay Library—Blue-gray Tanager by Caleb Scholtens. True proof that every photo makes a difference.

The 1,000,000th photo in the Macaulay Library—Blue-gray Tanager by Caleb Scholtens. Whether the image fills the frame, or is more documentation-style, every photo makes a difference.