A website sponsored by the Cornell Ornithology Lab that helps you keep track of your lists and also enables researchers to study population trends.
Ebird Alerts: This service will email you on a regular basis with birds seen in a state that are not on you eBird list . Go to http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/subscribe-to-ebird-alerts and sign up.
Types of Counts/Observations:
Traveling Counts—Traveling counts have proven to be the most effective type of observation for modeling bird populations at large scales.
Stationary Counts—Stationary Counts are a great way to quickly sample a suite of birds in a given habitat by essentially standing in one place (don't walk more than 30 meters!) and counting everything you see and/or hear.
Area Count—Area Counts are highly valuable because you are giving us an estimate of the area you've covered and a count of all the birds you've found within that area (fly-overs are okay!).
Random Count—This new protocol added in November 2009 is designed to give birders a way to indicate when they selected a location "at random" rather than because it seemed good for birds.
Casual Observations are to be used primarily for bird observations made when birding was not your primary purpose.
Be sure to understand the type of survey you're conducting, and don't be afraid to choose something more rigorous than "Casual Observation," especially when you are the ones doing all the work! Read more about this at
Types of Effort:
What do you mean by "effort"? Why do I have to enter time and distance information?
Information about how much time you spent watching birds and how far you traveled will help us determine the relative abundance of the birds you reported. For example: finding 50 Black-capped Chickadees in 15 minutes while standing in one place indicates a much different density of chickadees than if you recorded 50 Black-capped Chickadees in four hours while driving 10 miles. Without the time and distance information, eBird biologists won't be able to make a reliable estimate of density.
Please be mindful of proper use of eBird.
Here is a memo with valuable input from Kimball Garrett, Ornithology Collections Manager, Los Angeles Natural History Museum
California is usually the leading state for eBird submissions, and Los Angeles County usually leads in California.
Here is a reminder to eBird users - new and old - about the importance of maintaining the "cleanest" possible data set. A few recurring types of errors occur in checklist submission and I urge all observers to take care to avoid these. These largely fall under the categories of (1) improper use of eBird; (2) mis-entry of data; and (3) mis-identification or lack of documentation. As Los Angeles County eBird reviewers, John Garrett and I spend a great deal of time dealing with these sorts of errors, so these education efforts are partly in self-defense.
1. eBird is designed for the entry of a list of birds encountered at a SPECIFIC LOCATION within a SPECIFIC CALENDAR DAY. Obviously one's definition of "specific location" will need to be flexible, but very large areas (such as lumping together sites in the Antelope Valley separated by 20-30 miles, or the length of the Angeles Crest Highway through the San Gabriel Mtns.) are inappropriate for entry via a single checklist. Please consider making separate checklists for each site you visit - the data are more useful and your birding improves because you can associate distinct avifaunas with specific sites. Checklists must be submitted for a given calendar day (in almost all cases, of course, a shorter period within that day); never use eBird to enter a month list, county list, life list, or other such cumulative list (and remember that one great thing about eBird is that it will keep such lists for you, based on day/locality checklists you enter).
2. When submitting a checklist for an area, try to use an existing "Hot Spot" (a public or "shared" locality) when one exists. This is best done by clicking on "Find it on a map" and zooming in until you find the locality where you were birding. You should periodically review your personal eBird localities and consider merging them with existing Hot Spots if appropriate. When plotting a NEW locality, it is critical that you zoom in as close as possible to plot the marker - one of our biggest headaches is the mapping of localities miles from where they really are because the location was misplotted.
3. When you enter a checklist, ALWAYS review the list before submitting it. Did you select the correct location and the correct date? (with eBird pull-down menus, it's not hard to click on the wrong item). Did you enter the correct species? The "filters" will catch some such errors, but if you meant to enter 100 Double-crested Cormorants and inadvertently entered 100 Brandt's Cormorants the filters will never catch that error - if the locality was coastal the error will probably never be caught, and if the locality was inland you'll be getting a very skeptical query from us about your unprecedented inland sighting of Brandt's Cormorants.
4. Far and away the biggest issue with eBird data is accuracy in identification. The checklist you see when you enter data is limited to the species most expected in the county during that month. But even within that checklist of "Probable species" there is great potential for error. Los Angeles County is geographically complex, and just because Le Conte's Thrasher is on the "probable" checklist, it is still very restricted in its range. We're constantly seeing entries of species well out of range (e.g. California Gnatcatchers on the Malibu coast, Verdins in the San Gabriel Valley, Brandt's Cormorants in the L. A. Basin, etc.) - these are not flagged by the "filters" so we need to spend a lot of time reviewing maps for outliers. Bird identification isn't always easy, but at a minimum please limit your entries to identifications you are confident of. Very often when we query an observer about an unusual record they respond by saying they weren't sure what the bird was but the species they entered seemed like a good possibility; it's OK to leave such "uncertains" off your entered list (in fact, we insist on it...) We have noticed that many of the eBird errors are a by-product of the bulk-upload of data from other checklist software; the reasons aren't always clear, and the eBird staff is working to reduce such glitches. If you use bulk uploads, PLEASE go to "Manage My Observations" and check those lists for errors.
5. Birds do move around and show up in odd places. Many of the records entered into eBird are of legitimate out-of-range birds. Such species will trigger a prompt that asks you if you are certain of your identification; if the observer confirms the entry the record goes into a queue of "flagged" records for our review. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make our job easier by providing documentation in the form of notes on your eBird checklist about these unusual records. Did you know the record was unusual? How did you document this unusual record (photos? written description/ sketches? ) What were the characters that allowed you to distinguish the bird from similar species? We send queries to observers about their flagged records, and if no documentation exists we will likely invalidate the sighting - which is not to say that we are certain the bird was misidentified, but simply that it is undocumented. Very often documentation (especially photos) confirm the identifications of rarities; we need to know that such documentation exists. For species reviewed by the California Bird Records Committee we will always abide by CBRC decisions (i.e., validating CBRC-accepted records and invalidating records that are not accepted based on identification or natural origin). On rare occasion we will invalidate entire checklists when it is clear that the observer is unable to correctly identify birds.
Thanks to all of you for contributing to a vast and growing database of the birds of Los Angeles County. While we already have one of the most thorough data sets in the world, with the above suggestions we can all continue to improve its accuracy.
Kimball Garrett, January 2011.