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Birding goes hi-tech with eBird

Birders channel Audubon, with keystrokes instead of brushstrokes

Passenger Pigeon by John James Audubon

John James Audubon: Passenger Pigeons

Forget the stereotype of introverted birders with binoculars perpetually around their necks and floppy hats crowning their heads. Instead, think of serious naturalists and ornithologists in the spirit of John James Audubon in the 21st century. Today amateur and professional birders around the world are using eBird.com to record their findings and observations in a database that is being used by researchers and conservation organizations to better understand biodiversity and support the global biodiversity information community.

Birds are far more than a beautiful addition to our natural world. They are critical links to the ecosystem as agents of dispersal, biological controls, and perhaps most importantly, bio-indicators.

eBird was launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, “on behalf of the birding community to provide a rich and rapidly growing database of bird sightings worldwide.”  In the eBird mobile app, they note: “Many birders use eBird to keep track of their life lists, share their sightings with other birders, and keep their records safely backed-up. Scientists use these observations to explore patterns of bird distribution and abundance, and to better conserve birds and biodiversity.”

There are several ways for users to explore data

There are many ways to explore eBird.com data

eBird uses a simple, intuitive web interface that enables professional and amateur birders to record their location and their observations in French, Spanish, or English and follow their own data. The information they submit—more than 9.5 million observations thus far in 2015—provides data to various biodiversity communities that analyze and study it to better understand the health of the environment.

The website requires users to create an eBird account to submit data. Once registered, a user has access to their own range maps and bar charts as well as the eBird-Macaulay media collection, among other features. There is a mobile app currently available for iPhones and iPads, making data entry in the field quick and easy (an Android mobile app is in the works).

Even if you don’t have an eBird account, you can view and explore worldwide data, including watching submissions in real time. The website also offers information to help birders plan vacations.

Audubon, through his enduring art and observations, made a significant contribution to natural history and ornithology. eBird, using modern database technology, is striving to continue and advance the vital study of birds and their importance to the natural world.

Scarlet Tanager animated map

An animated map from eBird.com, showing the distribution of the scarlet tanager over the course of a year.

And they’re hiring:

Web and Android Developer Positions Open

We are excited to announce two new opportunities to join the eBird team at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The first position is to join our growing team of mobile application developers at the Lab, focusing on developing the Android eBird application. The second is to join our group of web application developers. Please read on to find out more about the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and these positions. We have had great success hiring people from the eBird community and hope it continues with these positions! We encourage you to share these positions with friends who have application development experience.

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