In this digital age, most of us are linked with information technology, smartphones, and related applications to exchange knowledge and information. The use of notebooks and pens get faded away rapidly due to digital gadgets manufactured to simplify our activities more smoothly.
The writing culture dominated before the mid-20th century, now being neglected or very rarely used except by newspaper writers and book writers. Similarly, note-taking is quite neglected by most of the people who engage in many nature-related activities where it is extremely important.
About two decades back, when I started bird watching, I used to take notes on my bird observations. That became a habit and I continue to do it even today since I’m so passionate about field note taking.
But we need to go forward with the technological advancements since they mostly save our time and effort. With the use of smartphones, now many people tend to type or draw notes (on a smartphone APP) on their smartphones without carrying a notebook.
Hence, as a bird watcher and a researcher, I would like to tell you about a great APP that directly enables not only to note down your bird observations but also assist in the monthly and annual analysis of your bird watching activities. That is the eBird APP.
Additionally, this APP is indirectly linked to many conservation-oriented research databases and applications where our birds can be saved from many natural and anthropogenic activities.
The eBird is a smartphone APP developed by Cornell Lab of Ornithology which is dedicated to collect bird observation data entered by users. It is an online database of bird observation with real-time information about their distribution and abundance where anybody can see.
Since 2010, it has covered the entire globe for this facility and you can download it for free, from the Google APP store by just searching “eBird by Cornell Lab”. It has a very good user-friendly interface where you can learn basic usage in a short time.
Easy to Input Data
Once you give permission for the APP to use your mobile phone storage, location service, microphone, most of the important parameters linked with a bird observation are automatically stored.
For example, when you do bird watching in a location you just need to activate your location service from the phone. Then, when you open the APP, it will automatically detect the location and time which are mandatory fields for observation data.
Further, when you start typing the observed bird in the bird species name typing field, the APP will suggest all possible species at that particular location.
If the bird species record going to be the first record for the location, you still can enter it into the system. But the APP will notify you about the new record.
Therefore, birding with this AI-driven (Artificial Intelligence) mobile APP enables you to enjoy birding more since it takes less effort and time on recording activities.
Flow of usage
Once you start the APP it will show you an opening screen with the date and time. You will see a green color small text denoted “RECORD TRACK”. You can activate it or deactivate it according to your preferences.
If you activate the button, it will simply track the path you take to do bird watching which can use to determine the total distance you traveled/ walked for bird watching.
There is a big green button saying, ‘Start checklist’, where you need to touch, and it will direct you to a new page. This page is the place where you enter your observations while you do your bird watching (you can put your observation later as well if you think the use of the mobile phone is disturbing your enjoyment of bird watching).
First, to enter the bird, you just need to type a part of the name of the observed bird. The APP will show a drop-down list of birds whose names have the entered part in the name.
If you want to put Ivory-billed Woodpecker, you just need to type Woodpecker then the APP will show you all the possible Woodpeckers recorded to the particular location. If your observation going to be the first record for the location still you can submit it. But eBird APP will notify you about the new entry.
Once you select a bird it will direct you to a new page where you need to input the number of individuals you saw, behavior, etc. Then you need to touch on the ‘Done’ button at the top right corner of the page.
When you finished entering the entire observed bird list for a single trip/ walking event you have to touch on the ‘Stop’ button. Then a message box will be appeared to get a confirmation on stopping asking to tap on ‘Stop track’.
You have to set your birding location on the next page. If you already turned on the location service of your mobile phone, the APP will automatically detect the exact location with accurate coordinates. You just need to verify it by tapping on the exact spot on the google map of the screen.
Make sure to zoom in as much as possible before you tap on the Google map. If you have done your bird watching activity in a popular birding spot, the APP suggests a pre-entered location list for you to choose from. Then you can press on ‘Use this location’ button to confirm the location to the APP.
Then the APP will show you a summary of the information you entered such as the number of observers, species list location information, time duration, etc.
You need to tap on the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ option to the question ‘Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify’ asked by the APP on the page.
If you saw an unidentified bird or a bird with a doubtful situation you can mention critical information on plumage or any other features you saw at the field where somebody else can help you to identify it later for you.
You can even upload any photos if you can take photographs. Once you complete all these steps you can touch on the ‘Submit’ button to enter the information you put into the eBird APP.
That information will go to a permeant data repository which is available anytime online (you have an offline usage option as well).
If your submission is successful a message box will appear on the screen saying ‘Checklist submitted’ and hit ‘OK’. You have done your data entry.
So, What Next?
Once you start this activity as a habit in your bird watching routine you will be able to see the accumulation of your bird observation through time. Then, you will be able to see your summary of birding activities monthly and annually.
It includes a list of the locations you visited and a list of bird species you saw. If you go to eBird you can log in to your profile and see the basic statistics related to your profile.
You can be an entry-level ornithologist with your own data analysis. The most important part of this APP is you and your data become a part of bird conservation.
Because the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with the collaboration of many organizations related to bird watching and ornithology, use this observation.
Those data can be used to protect birds from threats, predict population trends, and take necessary conservation activities, to disseminate knowledge for many people around the world in real-time data inputs.
So, you will be delighted when you become a member of a large family of conservation citizen scientists. Additionally, you can explore millions of observations and checklists on 10,618 bird species to get educated about their distribution, occurrence probabilities, and the best places to see them.
And also eBird web portal is geared up with many animated maps about bird migrations and how abundance fluctuated through months thanks to more than 700,000 users’ observations all around the world.
The eBird team will evaluate our observations and our activity monthly basis. So if you become a regular contributor with eBird data inputs, you have a chance to win a ZEISS Conquest HD 8 x 42 binocular as an eBirder of the month.
Use of eBird will bring you to the next level in bird watching. Thus I highly recommend this APP to any bird watcher out there. Give it a try. You will definitely enjoy using it. Additionally, if you are searching for a bird identification APP, my recommendation is Merlin Bird ID APP. Happy eBirding to you!