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Monday, March 21, 2011

eBird: Tracking the Birds of NBNC (& beyond!)

Whether scientist, avid birder, or “backyard” observer, many people who watch birds keep a list of one form or another. Whether they be life lists (birds seen by a person in their lifetime), yard lists (birds seen in a person’s backyard), or year lists (birds seen over the course of a given year), listing is a way for individuals to archive their sightings and reference them in the future. Now, listing has been made easy by eBird, an online bird sightings database available for free. Best of all, the lists you enter can help scientists to learn more about bird abundance and distribution on a global scale.

As information is entered into eBird, it is made publicly available for all to see and use, and the observations submitted at the North Branch Nature Center have documented 127 species and revealed interesting trends in the distribution of birds at NBNC. While species that rare here (such as Eastern Towhee) may have only been reported once, many others have been documented dozens of times throughout the year. The more information is entered into the eBird database, the more it can tell us.

All sightings in eBird require a specific date and location for each observation. This allows for easy comparisons between the birds of NBNC and those of Washington County (or all of Vermont) over the course of the year. Users can even reference specific sightings and create maps that help track where birds have been seen recently. As more and more observations are entered, the power of eBird continues to grow, and this free tool offers countless other features that can enhance our enjoyment of birdlife and increase our knowledge at the same time.

For those who want to learn more:

Got eBird?
Tuesday, March 22, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Fee: by donation
Every time that you see and identify a bird, you are holding a piece of a puzzle. Whether you are casually watching birds in your backyard, or chasing rare species, you are helping to put this puzzle together. Unfortunately, just like puzzle pieces, these observations lose their value if they remain separate from one another. Join VCE biologist Kent McFarland to learn how your bird sightings can help complete a picture of the life of birds through eBird. You’ll also learn how eBird is being used in the Vermont County Birding Quest.

Also check out the online eBird tutorial.

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