Most of of the information available about eBird focuses on how it can be used as a tool for our individual birding. But one can also use the powers of eBird to run a bird monitoring project using a large number of volunteers. This has been done in the past, from smaller single-day initiatives like the Bengaluru Bird Count to regional events like the Mysuru Bird Atlas and the Kerala Bird Atlas, all the way to national-level events like the Asian Waterbird Census . Based on these experiences, here is a short write up on how you can use eBird to run a multi-participant event.
Why use eBird to run a documentation or monitoring project?
Here are some reasons:
- Data collection is easy.
- Distributed data entry (ie separately by different participants) is built-in.
- Single taxonomy and nomenclature.
- Data in electronic form from the input stage.
- Data quality checks at input stage by flagging rare observations.
- Integrating evidence (notes, media) with data entry.
- In-field data entry from eBird app in mobile devices.
- Data collation is easy.
- Tracking and Feedback.
- Near real-time as all observations and basic summaries are online.
- Links are shareable by email and in social media.
How to use of eBird for this?
- Ask all participants to register on eBird and use it for regular birding.
- Create an eBird account for the group exercise and create an eBird profile. E.g. “BirdSurvey Bhopal (group account)”
- Note, you can have multiple eBird accounts associated with the same email account.
- Ask observers to log their monitoring/survey data in eBird – preferably using the mobile app for real-time upload.
- Ask observers to share their lists with the account of the group.
- Review shared lists – discuss any peculiar observations with the observers and if required, remove any entries from the group account.
But we need to collect additional information from what eBird supports.
- Carry out steps 1-5 above
- Create a Google Form which takes the eBird list ID (e.g. S1244567) and add fields for observers to enter additional parameters (for example, percent coverage of a wetland, or weather information, etc).
- Ask observers to fill in the Google form for every list they submit.
- Note, the best thing to do would be to enter the eBird list IDs of the group account — this ensures that data are immediately downloadable by the project admins.
Nice, but we are interested in just a few species. What should we do with the rest?
- You can remove the unwanted species from the shared list of the group account. The original observer will still retain all the species while the shared list owned by the group account will have only the specific species of interest.
OK, What can Bird Count India do to help our project?
- At the planning stage, we would be happy to advise on the design of your project if you wish. Clearly stating the goals of the project and the methods that will allow you to accomplish these goals is essential to the success of a project.
- For publicity, you can author a short blog post on your project and we can carry it on our website. Our weekly summaries of blog posts reach a wide network of eBird users across the country, promoting your campaign. We can also help publicise your project on social media.
Do feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.