eBird2Warning #1: If you are not interested in birds, you won’t be interested in this post.

Warning #2: If you are not interested in birds, you’re missing out on some of the most beautiful and fascinating experiences that planet Earth has to offer.

oystercatcherI write to you today to extol the virtues of eBird, the online checklist for birders. Briefly, it is a database in which anyone can submit their birding observations, from mere presence of species to seasonal behaviors such as breeding and migration.  The data are then compiled and made available for anyone to use, amateurs and professional land managers alike.

file2Instead of writing a bird list for the day in a notebook, and then filing it away where it will never be seen again by any living human being, I now take 2 minutes each evening and submit my bird list.

There are simple drop downs that allow you to easily capture information on age, sex and breeding status, and you can also write in notes for anything interesting or out of the ordinary.  This digital field note is then thorough, accessible, concise, organized and consistent, all qualities that were never present in my previous bird lists.

owlMore importantly, the information is compiled and added to the vast database of other observers’ notes, and my observations become part of one of the largest citizen science monitoring project known to man.  In short, if I go out and bird watch, and if I submit my list, I will have added to the global body of knowledge, and not just stumbled around the woods aimlessly.

I’ve also found that I’ve become more observant.  If I know that my list will be used to make maps and potentially to direct management decisions, then the need for certainty becomes much more critical.

I wish I could say that eBird was paying us a bunch of money to write this post, but they’re not.  I just truly believe in this method of citizen science.  It’s an easy and effective way to keep a field journal, a great way to become a more observant birder and naturalist, and it’s a way to contribute to the conservation of birds by strengthening our overall body of knowledge.