Friday, February 15, 2013

GBBC and eBird - They really got it together!!!

I just entered my data for the first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).   WOW! Cinchy!!!

I entered thru GBBC (click on ref above - click on "Submit Your Bird Checklist") and it allowed me to log in thru my eBird account.

And - NO - you do not have to have an eBird account! The GBBC was born as - and remains - a way for "regular people" to record bird sightings for four days in February - even if you do not leave home! That is how I started recording birds! FUN!!! (It is just cool that for those of us who do both it is so much easier now).  Click on highlighted ref above - click on "Submit Your Bird Checklist". Then create your account.
You can also learn about eBird - it is a great (free) way to keep track of your birds (life list, yearly and monthly totals by site/county/etc, and you contribute to a national data base of birds:

SO COOL!!! I logged in and GBBC/eBird knew me! I knew I was contributing to GBBC because the GBBC logo was in the upper left corner, but I also was in my own eBird account!!! This has several important implications:

1) eBird already has my favorite locations geographically tagged. Of course, "Dr. Bob's Deck" (no, you will not find it - it is not a national hotspot - but it is my main spot for recording birds over morning coffee) was most important. I record birds here daily. It was great this morning that I had rare, but recently more occasional, visits from a Northern ("Yellow-shafted") Flicker and a Red-breasted Nuthatch! Thanks birdies - I refreshed the suet for you!

But, anyone who did GBBC in past years will remember needing to look up zip codes. Come on! What is the zip for Stoney Creek - Macomb County vs. Stoney Creek-Oakland County!!!  (Yes, I did that the last two years and I came close, but it took forever - and it was still artificial - as well as frustrating!). Or Dutton Fields (again, not national but in my personal eBird place list) where the Horned Larks and occasional Snow Buntings or Lapland Longspurs frequent? Or the farm lands reported by birders? Or the corner of Bird Freeway at Sandhill Crane flyover?  Right! Zippidy-do-yuck!

2) This upgrade by Cornell University saves me from entering the data twice - once for GBBC and once for eBird. I wrote notes last year (and I really appreciate eBird Tech Talk - these guys are amazing for responding!!!) complaining about this and suggesting that the overall bird composite at Cornell for the days of GBBC would contain duplication data that might be imposssible to ever reconcile. The upgrade is great for me, and great for the data pool! Great job, Cornell!!!

Yes, I altruistically love it that Cornell data will be far better, but I mostly love it personally because in one flying swoop, I entered my bird sightings from today at three locations into two (now one!) recording sites for the national data base (and I am SO happy they are now one...!) at the same time! I killed two "to dos" at one time (really 2 records x 3 places)- and actually faster than I normally do one! WHEE!

Those of you who already have eBird accounts will love this - especially if you are creatures of habit and tend to go to the same places! No more do you have to do look-ups for the zip codes that the old GBBC required! (like how many folks know the zip codes for their local parks???) Go in thru GBBC, and login to eBird, and you do both at the same time!

As a person who daily records my backyard birds, I initially did not like it that the eBird checklist (thru GBBC) with which I was presented had not filtered for my recent records as eBird does (yes, I am a creature of small easy habits) , but when the large list comes up, the cursor is in the "find species" box. Type in the first four letters of the bird's "last name" or "first name" (common names ...), and Boom,  you have a very small number of choices. Click the right one and enter data. Then you are back to "find species". Enter and Boom it again! Cinchy!!!

I am done with entering data for my first day of GBBC. I have no guilt or "to do list" left to go enter in eBird sometime as well. I am really quite proud! What fun!

I am one happy birder! What's not to like?!!!

SO - Y'all go do the GBBC thing! If you are not an eBird person, I can only say GBBC was great fun when I first started birding. And even after I started with eBird, I still put up with the need for entering data at two sites.  Really GBBC is the one event where "regular folks" like us can just enjoy recording our local birds and it will make a difference. I have always enjoyed this weekend since I started birding!!! You do not have to go anywhere - just enjoy and share your birdies!

This year the GBBC also went global, so it will be even more interesting to see results. GEEZ! Can anyone imagine a "snapshot" of all the birds in the world seen over just four days? Yes, I suspect the global bit will expand as people learn about it, but I believe this will be the best national survey ("snapshot") ever!

.. I may add some pics later, but really did not get too much today ... There is also a contest for GBBC pics (see previous reference to GBBC site), and I hope to get lucky on the next three days.

BTW, I would love to hear feedback from first-time GBBC participants! Like I said, it was great fun for me as a beginning birder.

Go Bird!!!
 - "Dr. Bob"

1 comment:

Kim S. said...

Loving your enthusiasm for the GBBC, Dr. Bob! I've entered my counts for the past two days and it really is so much easier now that they've integrated with eBird. Funny though, you mentioned having to enter zip codes in previous years -- I don't remember doing that.

As for your species entries, I find it easiest to use the 4-letter AOU codes. No searching, it just pulls up the exact species on the first try. And some of the codes make me smile(like MODO and HOLA).

Also, for anyone who might read this, I wanted to mention the awesome live map of GBBC entries from around the world -- it lights up a dot on the map for each entry as it's entered. Love it! Here's the link for that:

Happy counting!