A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, this year marks the 15 year anniversary of Vermont eBird, the first state portal for eBird. Vermont eBird is managed by Kent McFarland at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and is a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life. Collaborators on Vermont eBird include: Audubon Vermont, Birds of Vermont Museum, North Branch Nature Center, Vermont Chapters of Audubon, with sponsorship from the Vermont Habitat Stamp.
In just a decade-and-a-half, the checklists that bird watchers have shared have helped make Vermont eBird, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, the largest citizen science biodiversity project in the state and around the world.We’ve had 6,660 Vermont eBirders submit over 274,500 checklists, representing all 384 species of birds ever reported from Vermont. Birders have added over 30,000 images and over 1,400 sound recordings to Vermont checklists. And we join the more than 390,000 eBirders have submitted over 500 million bird sightings on nearly 28 million complete checklists, representing 10,371 species across every country in the world!
eBird’s goal is to maximize the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers. It is amassing one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence. For example, in May 2015, participants reported more than 9.5 million bird observations across the world!
The observations of each participant join those of others in an international network of eBird users. eBird then shares these observations with a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. In time these data will become the foundation for a better understanding of bird distribution across the western hemisphere and beyond.
Vermont eBird documents the presence or absence of species, as well as bird abundance, breeding status, and other information, through checklist data. A simple and intuitive web-interface, or our mobile app, engages thousands of participants to submit their observations or view results via interactive queries into the eBird database. Vermont eBird encourages users to participate by providing Internet tools that maintain their personal bird records and enable them to visualize data with interactive maps, graphs, and bar charts.
A birder simply enters when, where, and how they went birding, then fills out a checklist of all the birds seen and heard during the outing. Vermont eBird provides various options for data gathering including point counts, transects, and area searches. Automated data quality filters developed by our Vermont bird experts review all submissions before they enter the database. Our Vermont experts review unusual records that are flagged by the filters.
We’d like to thank the volunteer data experts that help us keep Vermont eBird data strong – Zac Cota, Sue Elliott, Spencer Hardy, Kyle Jones, Kent McFarland, Craig Provost, and Ian Worley. Every record entered into eBird is checked for accuracy, first by automated filters that flag unusual records, and then by expert reviewers who devote their personal time to ensure that your lists and the eBird database are as accurate as possible. Additionally, Kent McFarland, Ron Payne, and Ian Worley are hotspot editors for Vermont. If you run into them while out birding, let them know you are thankful for their hard work and contribution behind the scenes at Vermont eBird.
Vermont eBird data are stored in a secure facility and archived daily, and are accessible to anyone via the eBird web site and other applications developed by the global biodiversity information community. For example, eBird feeds data to international biodiversity data systems, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). In this way any contribution made to eBird increases our understanding of the distribution, richness, and uniqueness of the biodiversity of our planet.
eBird data is a free resource to anyone via our Data Download page, accessed via Explore Data. This is not to be understated, since these data downloads make much of the above possible and set eBird apart with its revolutionary open data access. More than 60,000 people have downloaded raw eBird data for analysis, with more than 2,000,000 visitors to the eBird website in 2016 to contribute and explore data.
Until Vermont eBird was launched, bird observations were recorded with pencil and paper or typewriter. We’ve collected nearly 100 years of historic data compiled in birders’ notebooks and file boxes, a veritable treasure trove of information. From 1974 through the late 1990s, Vermont’s bird records were collected by volunteers through the Records of Vermont Birds project; birders dutifully summarized their seasonal bird sightings and submitted them on paper. These paper summary forms were filed in boxes, archived for the historical record, and are now housed at VCE. In recent years, we have added even more precious historical data captured on paper. For example, beginning in 1965 and for nearly the next 40 years, Nancy Simpson kept a daily bird checklist on her southern Vermont property. We have the old notebooks of Lucretius Ross, whose detailed notes of spring arrival for each bird species in Bennington County date back to 1902. The Waterman family kept detailed bird records for 16 years in East Corinth. We’re slowly digitizing all of this data and uploading it to Vermont eBird thanks to a corps of dedicated volunteers. If you have historic records, please consider adding them to Vermont eBird! Learn more about entering your past observations on our Help page.