Sunday 26 February 2012

eBird Rant

Lately I've been spending a fair bit of my time doing eBird related activities. Actually, on a few occasions I've cancelled my birding plans so that I could do some eBirding!

The main project I've worked on is improving the filter for Denmark. Essentially I sift through all the data on this site and decide how many of each species can be expected for each month of the year. If someone claims to see a species that isn't on that list or sees more than is expected they'll get an email asking for details (if they didn't already provide details in the comments section).

This is all part of becoming a reviewer for eBird in Denmark, Sweden and Grey county, Ontario. As well as a hotspot editor for 2 of those locations plus Singapore.
Hotspot editing essentially means that exisiting hotspots aren't duplicated, and approving/creating new ones that eBird users suggest.
Or, for example, if Steve Jobs suggests "Steve Jobs" as a hotspot I can go ahead and delete that.
Apparently that has happened (with different names though)!

"Hi everyone! I'm Steve Jobs and I'm a hotspot"

"Did he just say hot shot or hot spot?"

Lately I've also been submitting many more checklists than usual. Everyday I usually submit 2 checklists from around campus - the main reason I'm doing this is to fill in the many gaps on the eBird bar graphs. I wasn't as devoted to the bar graphs when I was in Denmark but I still have noticed an improvement. Check this out:

Looking at species ranging from Common Raven to European Robin from 1990-2012 (limited to those species recorded from Sept - Dec):

Now compare that to the same range of species when eliminating 2011 (e.g. 1990-2010):

All of a sudden only 16 species are in the second graph, down from 28 in the first. And some species had some large gaps - like European Robin (last one on the list) but after 2011 that improved - this isn't all from me though, there were at least 2 other birders who were frequently submitting data during that time period in 2011. As more eBirders visit the country (or locals start using the program) the graph will certainly improve.

I'd be interested in seeing a graph of eBird use similar to Mike Burrell's similar data.

On another note, I'm trying to convince the Singapore birders to take up eBirding. They don't keep any of their data... in fact some of the 'elder'  birders I've spoken to don't even make a note of the birds they saw in a notebook! I'm already the top contributor in South East Asia in terms of number of checklists which simply shows that there aren't any/many locals using the (free) program.

I really believe that this program should and will be the future of birding in terms of record keeping throughout the world. The combination of everyones data being combined while ensuring that locals are able to monitor the data quality is very important. Is there any other hobby that is in such an
international collaboration!?