“As soon as the heat maps began to come out, everybody recognized this is a game changer in how we look at animal populations and their movement”
On a warm morning not long ago on the shore of a small prairie lake outside this state capital, Bob Martinka trained his spotting scope on a towering cottonwood tree heavy with blue heron nests. He counted a dozen of the tall, graceful birds and got out his smartphone, not to make a call but to type the number of birds and the species into an app that sent the information to researchers in New York.
Mr. Martinka, a retired state wildlife biologist and an avid bird-watcher, is part of the global ornithological network eBird. Several times a week he heads into the mountains to scan lakes, grasslands, even the local dump, and then reports his sightings to theCornell Lab of Ornithology, a nonprofit organization based at Cornell University.
“I see rare gulls at the dump quite frequently,” Mr. Martinka said, scanning a giant mound of bird-covered trash.
Tens of thousands of birders are now what the lab calls “biological sensors,” turning their sightings into digital data by reporting where, when and how many of which species they see. Mr. Martinka’s sighting of a dozen herons is a tiny bit of information, but such bits, gathered in the millions, provide scientists with a very big picture: perhaps the first crowdsourced, real-time view of bird populations around the world.
Birds are notoriously hard to count. While stationary sensors can measure things like carbon dioxide levels and highway traffic, it takes people to note the type and number of birds in an area. Until the advent of eBird, which began collecting daily global data in 2002, so-called one-day counts were the only method.
While counts like the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the Breeding Bird Survey bring a lot of people together on one day to make bird observations across the country, and are scientifically valuable, they are different because they don’t provide year-round data.
And eBird’s daily view of bird movements has yielded a vast increase in data — and a revelation for scientists. The most informative product is what scientists call a heat map: a striking image of the bird sightings represented in various shades of orange according to their density, moving through space and time across black maps. Now, more than 300 species have a heat map of their own.
The Latest on: eBird
- Snowy owls on the move, push south through New York on January 17, 2018 at 3:04 pm
Waterfowl are a favorite food. The website eBird keeps a database of bird sightings reported by the bird-watching community. In the heart of the Capital Region, eBird shows Albany International Airport as the snowy owl hotspot. Farther out, there have been ... […]
- National Aviary plans May 5 birding trip to Presque Isle on January 17, 2018 at 6:36 am
Mulvihill will report birds seen by trip-goers to the global eBird.org database. The bus will depart the aviary in Pittsburgh's North Side at 7 a.m., returning at 5 p.m. Fee of $95, or $85 for members, includes lunch. All ages are welcome. Details ... […]
- Variety of species recorded in 92nd Christmas bird count on January 17, 2018 at 12:26 am
Then they tally the number of individuals of each species and enter their totals into a free account through eBird. According to the Audubon Society of Portland website, last year participants in Oregon submitted 2,570 checklists. The website further noted ... […]
- Kansas to host yearlong bird-watching contest on January 14, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Participants are required to log their data into the online service, eBird, available on the Cornell University website, www.ebird.org. Each participant will need to create an individual profile, with sign-in and password to begin the submission of sightings. […]
- 30 species of birds spotted on January 13, 2018 at 6:01 pm
The result of the count will be uploaded into ebird.org, an online platform for bird watchers to register their observations in a systematic manner. R. Mohammed Saleem, president of ECG, said that PBC is conducted during Pongal holidays across the State by ... […]
- 4-day Pongal bird count to begin on January 13 on January 10, 2018 at 6:19 pm
The four-day event will give birders from TN and Puducherry a chance to document bird species and count their numbers for at least 15 minutes each day and upload their observations on the eBird India portal. Participants are free to choose any site of ... […]
- Bird survey finds 224 species breeding in Wisconsin on January 6, 2018 at 8:44 am
Layfayette County had the fewest (110); Milwaukee County had 136. All observations are entered in the eBird program, an online checklist run by the Cornell (University) Lab of Ornithology. King rails had been observed in the earlier atlas, but breeding ... […]
- OUTDOORS: Get ready for Great Backyard Bird Count on January 4, 2018 at 11:05 pm
Your help is needed every year to make the GBBC successful. Then, keep counting throughout the year with the app eBird, which uses the same system as the Great Backyard Bird Count to collect, store, and display data any time, all the time. Scientists and ... […]
- Bird site logging new feathered visitors to Montana on January 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm
In 2002 the Cornell Lab of Ornithology launched eBird, a biodiversity dataset that tracks and updates lists of bird sightings that allows amateurs and professionals to enter information. As a result of this data, through 2017 eBirders have reported ... […]
- Snowy owl sightings on the rise — especially along Great Lakes shorelines: 'It's the stuff of mythology' on December 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm
In the past several weeks, "285 snowy owl photos taken in Illinois have been posted to eBird," an online bird reporting site run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "There's one sitting on a sign on North Clark Street in Chicago. There's one sitting on the ... […]
via Google News and Bing News