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The many uses of eBird


Through the eBird platform, you can contribute bird sightings to citizen science at the same time that you enrich your own bird watching experiences. All you need to participate is a free account. Photo by Paul Nicholson.


The eBird Canada platform is familiar to many birders, but few are fully aware of all of its powerful features.

In 2002, New York State’s Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society launched eBird. It has grown exponentially since that launch. The geographic scope initially was the Western Hemisphere, however by 2010 it was a world-wide database. It’s now available in 48 languages and, not surprisingly, it’s available as eBird Mobile for use while you’re in the field.

Birds Canada is the eBird Canadian partner. In the eBird Canada 2020 Year in Review report created by Team eBird Canada, significant growth across the country was reported. Last year, Canada’s more than 28,000 eBirders submitted more than 1.3 million checklists, an increase of 34.3 % from 2019. Those bird sightings are part of more than a billion global sighting records that have been entered into eBird.


The raison d'être of eBird remains unchanged. Bird scientists, educators, governments, and others use the crowd-sourced data that birders enter. It feels good to contribute data points in support of this.

You can post sightings while you are out in the field or after you’ve returned home. Contributors’ bird lists – whether by year or county or country – are automatically updated.

You can upload photographs or recordings, and you can admire those posted by others. Accounts still cost nothing for participants. Conveniently, there are direct links in eBird to allaboutbirds.org plus Merlin Bird ID and other useful websites.

The team that administers eBird at Cornell University does an outstanding job of keeping birders engaged and motivated. New features are added every year.

To learn about other birders’ current sightings of particularly interesting birds or of species that you haven’t yet seen, you can easily subscribe to daily alerts once you have an eBird account. For example, to receive a daily digest of interesting Middlesex County sightings, click on “Explore”, then click on “Alerts”, then scroll down to the “Rare Bird Alerts” section and type in Middlesex. From the pick list, select “Middlesex, Ontario, (CA)” then click the “Subscribe” button.

If you wish to see a particular species, you can subscribe in the same area to a “Needs Alert” to receive updates about regional species reports for birds that you haven’t yet seen. Alternatively, you can investigate elsewhere in the “Explore” section of eBird. For example, if I want to see a Northern Shrike in Middlesex County, I could enter Northern Shrike on the Species Map then zoom in to the London area until individual pins are displayed.

If you happen to be travelling to another location whether it’s Toronto or Portugal, you can preview hot spots and your expected sightings. Or you can just get lost for hours perusing advanced birding analytics. There are lists of everything from the most recent media posts to the most active eBirders’ results for Middlesex County or other geographic areas.

If you don’t already have an eBird account, think about getting one now. It’s the best way to contribute bird sightings to citizen science, and it can most definitely enrich your own bird watching experiences.

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