• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

eBird and Birding on the move (1 Viewer)

A reasonable distance from the edge of the town and the town itself, which--admittedly--varies between individuals,
Look it's just not the right way to do it and, as you note, ebird doesn't even use the approach consistently internally.

The right way to do it is to collect observations as point occurrences---exactly where you made each sighting. Then provide 2 types of user-defined aggregations:

  1. You can combine sets of these point occurrences as a "trip" (or "checklist" or transect)
  2. Entirely separately, on the map, you can define hotspots. I suggest these can be of 2 kinds:

  1. An area (polygon) which you draw and which encompasses your local park (or whatever).
  2. A point which reports all occurrences within x of that location (where x is documented). You can already do this: if you zoom out from London until you see the big yellow/orange squares and then do a prolonged click it'll report the number of species (and hotspots)
The calculation of which checklists go with which hotspots should be entirely automatic. There's absolutely no need to assign a checklist to a hotspot manually, although you could give the user that option. (In fact ebird already does this behind the scenes.)

Some other systems (don't ask me which) operate on these principles.

I really object to ebird throwing away the basic important underlying information--- which is exactly where you saw each thing. Observado (observation.org) doesn't do this afaik
 
"Particular location". No: 'hotspots' refer to areas, not point locations. They are represented by points but the point stands in for a larger (unknown) area. A checklist for a hotspot tells you what was seen in the general area not at any given place within it.

My point is that hotspots are logically different to individual obsevations. Once you have a set of observations you are free to combine them into checklists for a "hotspot" (or not). You don't have this freedom in ebird because you're forced to throw away the basic underlying information---exactly where you saw each bird.

Since there is no definition of what constitutes a hotspot, and other people are free to add their own clashing definitions of hotspots for a focal area, it's very difficult to understand what's meant by a hotspot. This is especially so for places you're unfamiliar with.

As a simple example, can you tell me what the bounds of this are?

What area does the hotspot cover?

...You can't tell me (no one can) because it's not tied down or defined anywhere at all:

https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1973735
Yes, not all hotspots are good. I don't use ones that constitute a very large or undefinable area. Hotspots that don't however, I use regularly, and others should too.

I also don't usually use them for incidental or stationary checklists either, although occasionally if it makes sense to do so I will.
 
I honestly hope that ebird changes to using exact coordinates of a sighting as a default.

Tracks are subjective, inexact and confusing, and pointless wherever cars are not used as the main birding medium. They will also cause problems in future, when roads and their surroundings will change.

Ebird needs also two more additions: modern approach to privacy of users, and introducing non-bird wildlife (which is minority of records compared to birds). Then maybe finally 3 competing wildlife databases: ebird, ornitho and observado could become a shared scientific resource.
 
I honestly hope that ebird changes to using exact coordinates of a sighting as a default.

Tracks are subjective, inexact and confusing, and pointless wherever cars are not used as the main birding medium. They will also cause problems in future, when roads and their surroundings will change.

Ebird needs also two more additions: modern approach to privacy of users, and introducing non-bird wildlife (which is minority of records compared to birds). Then maybe finally 3 competing wildlife databases: ebird, ornitho and observado could become a shared scientific resource.
I said it before, but by now probably worth saying again after so many posts.

The correct way to do this is to collect the exact coordinates of each sighting and then allow users to associate metadata like "this is all one checklist/trip/whatever" to whichever of these they want. To make that easy you probably give them ways to slice the data like by times ("from now until I press stop treat this as a checklist", and "view the records in the order they occurred: click on the start and end observation"), or by relationship to GPS trace ("only include sightings which occurred on the GPS trace between here and here as a 'checklist' "). Recording GPS and distance is useful in the context of a transect or a special visit as a way of recording effort. Obviously the individual sightings won't give you this as they're patchy.
 
I honestly hope that ebird changes to using exact coordinates of a sighting as a default.

Tracks are subjective, inexact and confusing, and pointless wherever cars are not used as the main birding medium. They will also cause problems in future, when roads and their surroundings will change.

Ebird needs also two more additions: modern approach to privacy of users, and introducing non-bird wildlife (which is minority of records compared to birds). Then maybe finally 3 competing wildlife databases: ebird, ornitho and observado could become a shared scientific resource.
Implementing non-bird taxa into the system the way ebird is designed would be an absolute nightmare. The taxonomy is less certain, there would be even fewer capable reviewers, and just the various hobbyist groups have very different philosophies. I know there is a NA based herp database (or was), and they have had a lot of problem getting buy-in from folk and routinely have people upload reports with false locations, since they don't want anyone to know where they found their kingsnake or other cool herp.

The data quality for these groups would be abyssmal and probably useless for researchers. So ebird would have to invest a lot of money for very little scientific benefit. And really that is what ebird is for: citizen science.
 
If, hypothetically, they decide to be compatible with other global databases, they can simply follow their system for non-birds. The amount of work would actually decrease.

In exchange, they could make publications like comparing bird diversity with mammals, plants, butterflies, or - importantly - how protection of birds affects other threatened taxa.
 
If, hypothetically, they decide to be compatible with other global databases, they can simply follow their system for non-birds. The amount of work would actually decrease.

In exchange, they could make publications like comparing bird diversity with mammals, plants, butterflies, or - importantly - how protection of birds affects other threatened taxa.
This would in effect require completely different interfaces...it wouldn't be as simple as submitting one checklist with all your critters. At which point...why bother?
 
Implementing non-bird taxa into the system the way ebird is designed would be an absolute nightmare.
I actually disagree with this. Since all taxonomy is always subjective, in some sense all taxonomy for all groups is always uncertain---including birds. Because of the subjectivity, groups with fewer taxonomists actually have much more stable taxonomies. For example, I do not believe there are 5+ differing lists of world butterflies (as there are birds).

I also don't see it would require a major departure from ebird's basic approach (especially if ebird did things correctly: see previous). Observado/observation.org shows this. Currently I tediously write out notables (mostly mammals: Cacomistle yeah!) in checklist comments and may make GPS points for individual observations

Re: gbif. I'd say inaturalist (research grade IDs go to gbif afaik)
 
I actually disagree with this. Since all taxonomy is always subjective, in some sense all taxonomy for all groups is always uncertain---including birds. Because of the subjectivity, groups with fewer taxonomists actually have much more stable taxonomies. For example, I do not believe there are 5+ differing lists of world butterflies (as there are birds).

I also don't see it would require a major departure from ebird's basic approach (especially if ebird did things correctly: see previous). Observado/observation.org shows this. Currently I tediously write out notables (mostly mammals: Cacomistle yeah!) in checklist comments and may make GPS points for individual observations

Re: gbif. I'd say inaturalist (research grade IDs go to gbif afaik)
Talking about taxonomy and then isolating a group of macrolepidoptera and calling them butterflies grates with me a touch....

Within lepidoptera generally, I think the state of taxonomic flux is probably very fluid & that is before you get to other invertebrate groups.

All the best

Paul
 
I cannot see how anyone can think that you can use eBird for your general birding and record every observation as a spot observation. It depends upon how much birding that you do I suppose. But I need to work out if I can start using it whilst out rather than uploading my observations at the end of the day. I am less tech savvy than I would like to be....

For my local birding, I have devised shorthand descriptions for various recording areas - effectively personal hotspots. Over time more hotspots have been created and sometimes these have even been put in the wrong place! There is a different infrastructure to creating hotspots and different people involved.

I have sometimes been contacted on my historical records after a new hotspot has been created to move my historical observation (Least Sandpiper, Upton Warren if I remember correctly) or my accurate spot observation to move it to a more general hotspot (Bearded Vulture High Atlas, Morocco). Sometimes I have been asked to take out detail for example GPS co-ordinates for Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch or a photo of a Saker at distance against a location because of the risk that it could be identified. Absolutely fine. Happy to support local judgement on such things.

But personally, I like hotspots and what you can create as a result for your local sites. It encourages you to keep going...

One day I will get the chance to upload missing photos and observations to my local one:-


All the best

Paul
 
Last edited:
Paul said:
One day I will get the chance to upload missing photos and observations to my local one:-

An impressive effort nonetheless Paul, I have to admit I didn’t even know a Hotspot’s Illustrated Checklist existed! I too have a bit of work to do to fill in the gaps:

https://ebird.org/hotspot/L8567686/media?yr=all&m=
Really enjoyed that. It shows how great the functionality is when you can (inadvertently) create such clear patterns on summer visitors like White Wagtail and Black Redstart or winter visitors like Alpine Accentor or passage birds like Marsh Harrier or Dunnock.

Superb.

One of my massive frustrations in my interest in nature has been organisations competing on their data rather than co-operating and this extends beyond 'just' birds where it seems to me that you could blow the doors off by combining datasets across taxa with modern Artificial Intelligence. But sadly my efforts to get involved have simply failed and my views of local conservation organisations tarnished as a result...

All the best

Paul
 
Really enjoyed that. It shows how great the functionality is when you can (inadvertently) create such clear patterns on summer visitors like White Wagtail and Black Redstart or winter visitors like Alpine Accentor or passage birds like Marsh Harrier or Dunnock.

Superb.

One of my massive frustrations in my interest in nature has been organisations competing on their data rather than co-operating and this extends beyond 'just' birds where it seems to me that you could blow the doors off by combining datasets across taxa with modern Artificial Intelligence. But sadly my efforts to get involved have simply failed and my views of local conservation organisations tarnished as a result...

All the best

Paul
That’s a shame, many people get comfortable with what they are used to and put themselves inside an invisible prison when it comes to advances such as you mention, couple that with the preference of some to remain a big fish in a little pond and cooperation and sharing data on a global scale becomes a big ask!
 
I actually disagree with this. Since all taxonomy is always subjective, in some sense all taxonomy for all groups is always uncertain---including birds. Because of the subjectivity, groups with fewer taxonomists actually have much more stable taxonomies. For example, I do not believe there are 5+ differing lists of world butterflies (as there are birds).

I also don't see it would require a major departure from ebird's basic approach (especially if ebird did things correctly: see previous). Observado/observation.org shows this. Currently I tediously write out notables (mostly mammals: Cacomistle yeah!) in checklist comments and may make GPS points for individual observations

Re: gbif. I'd say inaturalist (research grade IDs go to gbif afaik)
I mean, most taxonomic groups don't have standardized lists to draw from, and odds are whatever names entered would be down to the reference book or field guide they happened to be using. And those that do may only end up updated once a decade or even less. I think there is a much higher chance of this leading to incorrect information in the database, as reference materials for non-tetrapods are often just plain not thorough. Hell, this happens with birds to. How much time do you think ebird reviewers spend in correcting winter wren and common snipe sightings in North America? Whose going to do this job for mammals and herps?

Again, it's easy to say "well they should just change x", when you are not the one who has to make that change without breaking the website and while dealing with assorted other issues. How many months has it taken ebird to install there new exotic protocol? That's way more straight forward yet still has taken months to get up and running.
 
That’s a shame, many people get comfortable with what they are used to and put themselves inside an invisible prison when it comes to advances such as you mention, couple that with the preference of some to remain a big fish in a little pond and cooperation and sharing data on a global scale becomes a big ask!
I didn't originally intend it, but my using eBird in Poland often feels just like that!
 
That's really useful advice - I've never managed to transition my whole list to eBird, largely because if I'm recording stuff on eBird I feel I have to count everything, and some days you either want to just enjoy the birds, or you've got a partner wanting to move you on....
To clarify based on the OPs question, you're adding the record when you get home, rather than using mobile tracks? Because the other issue with incidental records is sometimes you just don't have the time (or the data allowance) to open up the app for a casual record.

yeah adding the record when i get home. I did this today with a Blackcap i spotted at work. just make a mental note of the time and location (or write it down if posible) and add when i get home.
 
Currently I tediously write out notables (mostly mammals: Cacomistle yeah!) in checklist comments and may make GPS points for individual observations

I did not even know such a thing existed? is there a way to search it?

most taxonomic groups don't have standardized lists

Frankly, “the official list of species” is not scientific, because science, essentially, accepts diversity and change of opinions.
How much time do you think ebird reviewers spend in correcting winter wren and common snipe sightings in North America?

In case of mammals, hypothetically, it is enough to mark records as unreviewed unless somebody reviews them.

Actually, one of my objections to large public sighting databases is the lack of verification or no traceable verification, which essentially makes them pseudo-science. For the user, this is not a visible problem, until somebody sees a paper based on ebird which lists a population of 10s or 100s of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers :D

I perhaps should sit and write a post “how to make ebird and others truthful”.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top