New Macaulay Library media search, specimen pages

By Team eBird 9 Nov 2017
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator

Two years ago this week, eBird changed forever—giving you the ability to add photos and audio directly to your checklists and archive them in the Macaulay Library (ML). Thanks to the contributions of tens of thousands of eBirders, the ML multimedia archive now contains more than 5 million digital specimens—photos, audio, and video—representing more than 9,500 species of birds and thousands of other animal species. These resources have built new eBird tools like the Illustrated Checklist, form the backbone of the Merlin Bird ID app, and will be a crucial part of new innovation in the future. Stay tuned for a new photo ID helper built into the eBird checklist process… Thanks to the Macaulay Library team for this roundup of the new tools for eBirders.

At the Macaulay Library, our goal is to make this amazing multimedia resource even more accessible and useful for birders and scientists. To help with that, we have two new developments for exploring the archive: enhanced media search capabilities, and new ML “specimen pages” that showcase individual photos, videos, and audio recordings.

The new specimen pages have been completely redesigned to make media contributions look great on computer monitors, tablets, and mobile devices, while also including the most important data about a media specimen. In addition, you can now do the following on specimen pages:

  • Share your favorite ML images, videos, and audio—together with proper credits—on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and websites
  • Provide quality ratings, helping to curate the collection
  • Explore related media from the same eBird checklist or for the same species
  • Visit contributors’ eBird profile pages

And finally, on the specimen pages for your own personal photos and audio recordings, you can easily download copies of your original media files using the “Download Original” link that appears.

A constant stream of new media uploads always makes the Macaulay Library Media Search page an interesting place to browse, but if you want to dive into the ML collection in more detail, there are lots of different ways to explore. If you’re interested in frogs, toads, dolphins, whales and other animals, click on the green “Birds” button and switch over to “All Animals” to explore audio and video of non-birds. If you’d like to peruse some of the thousands of ambient recordings in the ML archive, click on the More Filters dropdown and select the “Environmental” tag. And if you’re an ML aficionado who has memorized catalog numbers of your favorite recordings or photographs, it’s now possible to search for specific ML catalog numbers on the “More Filters” page.

By using the Location, Date, and Contributor dropdowns in conjunction with the More Filters options, it’s possible to search for just about anything in the ML archive. Are you interested in listening to all of Ted Parker’s recordings of Gray-cowled Wood-Rail duets from Peru from 1982? No problem—the new search tools will help you find those recordings in no time. Do you want to enjoy all of the adult male Kirtland’s Warbler photographs taken in Michigan this year? Here’s the link to all of those photos. And no matter how simple or complex your search, you can always download the data for your search results by clicking on the Save Spreadsheet icon after performing a search.

Finally, the “More Filters” page also contains a great way to help make the ML media collection even better. If you click on the “No Rating” button, you will see the media in ML that lack quality ratings. Browsing through the results and adding quality ratings—after familiarizing yourself with quality rating guidelines—is a great way to help the best media contributions rise to the top and appear in Illustrated Checklists, Merlin, Neotropical Birds, and Birds of North America.