New Year's Resolution 2018: eBird

By Team eBird January 30, 2018
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus

Let 2018 be the year to step up your eBirding. If you have enjoyed tapping into eBird reports from others, contribute your own sightings in 2018. Submit a sighting online or via eBird Mobile to see just how easy it is to join the world’s largest birding community. If you have been eBirding for a long time, add a few more checklists from your home or submit a few more photos and audio recordings. Have you been meaning to old records that you’d like to have in eBird? Every sighting matters. New Year’s Resolutions are a way to set fun challenges and personal goals. Read on for some ideas for eBird Resolutions and how to make birding and eBird even more fun in 2018.

Some active birders have yet to ‘take the plunge’ to participate in eBird. Do you have a slight pang of guilt each time you receive an eBird Alert, knowing that you should be submitting your sightings too? It’s okay, many of us have been there. Let 2018 be a chance to share your sightings with other birders just as their sightings have helped you. Once you do, eBird will be even more powerful for you as well.

Do you want to eBird, but feel that something is stopping you? Here are some common misconceptions for those hesitant to use eBird, along with solutions!

I have been birding for many years and it would take too long to catch up!
Being an eBirder doesn’t require having all your lists up to date or that you enter all your past data. The idea is to just get started, and let the historical data entry happen as you have time. The more historical data you enter the more informative eBird becomes for you, but the key is starting by entering your current observations today. If you lack the information required to load your past data in more meaningfully, try this option.

I don’t have the time
Do you already track your bird records somewhere else? Then there is really no added time by being an eBirder—it’ll probably actually save time since we update your lists for you when splits and lumps happen! eBird provides free proofreading of your lists too! Our worldwide team of experts in constantly inspecting the data to help prevent typos or taxonomic errors. Going forward, eBird Mobile will really speed up your data entry since you record your new sightings right there in the field–no transcribing!

I keep my lists in another program
When your lists are up to date in eBird, a whole new suite of cool, powerful tools become available: customized Needs Alerts, lists of Target Species with maps of where to find them, and much more. All of this is only possible when your sightings are in eBird. Fretting about moving over from another program to eBird? Don’t worry—we also have easy ways to import from most other programs.

eBird doesn’t want my data
We couldn’t disagree more! eBird is for everyone, and all data are valuable. No matter where you live, we welcome your contributions from anywhere, anytime. Get started today.

What is this a map of? It looks just like noise, there is so much information! This is Washington D.C., with all of the sightings of European Starling. Even common birds make a difference, and we want to hear about it!

What does this map show? There are so many bird sightings it is hard to tell…! This is actually Washington D.C., with all of the eBird sightings of European Starling. Even common birds make a difference, and we want to hear about them!


Whether you are a new eBirder or a longtime eBirder, you may be thinking about what new challenge to take on in 2018. Setting personal goals and competing against yourself is one of the best ways to improve your birding skills and to stay engaged with eBird and birding. Here are a few of our favorite challenge ideas for 2018:

Find 10 bird species that are new for you
One area where eBird really excels is showing you how to find birds. Whether you want a map of sightings for any species of bird, or to know where to go birding near you, it’s all there. In 2017, use the eBird Explore Data tools to help you find ten new bird species—whether they’re new for your yard, your county, your state, or your entire life.

Year listing
Keeping a year list is one of the great pleasures of birding. They are a New Year’s Resolution commitment to keep up your eBirding coverage and try to learn how to find new species, maybe those that have eluded you thus far. You could try a year list for your state or province, but you might find that keeping a year list for your yard or patch is an even more fun and more personal challenge.The smaller the area, the more exploration and self-discovery you’ll have in your year list. As the year progresses, year lists become a personal challenge to strategize how to find more species than last year and predict where you can intersect with tricky migrants. Invariably, they are full of fun surprises and unexpected successes.

Your year list for a country, state, county, patch, or your yard can be easily tracked in My eBird, the Yard/Patch tools, or eBird Mobile.

Progress bars are unique to eBird Mobile. Just check out the “My eBird” section and select your location using the options at the top right of the screen. The results will give statistics not only on your end-of-year totals, but whether your current progress is ahead of last year’s total on the same date. Below, the fact that the 20 December total is 6 species behind 2015’s total can only mean one thing. Time to go birding!

Adopt a patch
Anyone can adopt a “patch“—think of it as any park, walking loop, or birdy area that you like to visit regularly. Start tracking your all-time species total there and see if you can visit strategically to add new species. Use eBird Mobile to compare your 2018 totals to previous years. Select your patch in eBird to quickly access your stats. Best of all, check out the bar chart for your patch. Does your existing patch have gaps in the bar chart? Fill in those blanks!

eBird “bar chart” for a hotspot, showing occurrence of a species for each week of the year. Targets for 2018: find Spotted Sandpiper in the first week of July and a Rock Pigeon in the third week of June!

Help create an Illustrated Checklist
One of eBird’s most exciting new developments in 2017 was the release of our new Illustrated Checklists feature, with photos of each species taken at the actual region displayed by the checklist. Check out the Illustrated Checklist for your county, state, province, or favorite local hotspot. Can you fill in any missing photos? Can you improve upon existing ones? Audio recordings tend to be underrepresented in many places, so a good audio cut–even with your phone–can help fill a gap.

With a single click you can check for gaps and plan some goals for 2018. For example, Calgary County, Alberta, has the highest species list in the province (349 species!). But if you click the two rightmost numbers at the top of the page you can see that 65 species need photos and 323 need audio. By spreading out our photo and audio coverage, the Macaulay Library will become ever more powerful to assess how bird plumages, songs, molt, etc. vary across the planet.

Take the “Checklist a Day” challenge
Try stepping up to the ultimate challenge for an eBirder! This year’s “Checklist a Day” challenge will draw a winner from among those who submit at least one checklist (can be complete or “not complete”, although the former is always preferred) from every calendar day of 2018. The new eBird website will help track your “Checklist Streak”, so just make sure you don’t miss a day! Try to get in the habit of doing at least one short count in your yard every day–even a five-minute count of your feeders and the skies overhead helps keep a pulse on the birds coming and going throughout the year from a location that only you can survey.

Those of us at Team eBird have our own New Year’s Resolutions for 2018. In addition to our personal eBirding goals, we’ll remain committed to adding new features to eBird to make your observations, photos, audio recordings, and data even more valuable. The eBird website will be transformed in 2018 to increase its power, usability, and appeal. We’ll add new features to improve your ability to find birds, understand their occurrence patterns, and to better track your own data. We’ll continue sharing the connection between your sightings, exciting new science, and important and critical bird conservation: look for many new animated eBird Abundance models in the coming year. New features in eBird Mobile will help bring the full power of eBird to your pocket. And we’ll continue to revel in the amazing diversity of birds around us and try to highlight the best and most fun aspects of birding to more communities around the world.

Working together, our birding becomes much more: a chance to share your sightings with others–even across language barriers, a way to bolster a global appreciation for birds, and the raw data that leads to new science and informs important conservation. We could not do it without your participation. Thank you for all that you do.

Please excuse us now as we get started on our own resolutions…checklist-a-day, here we come!