Wednesday, December 17, 2014

eBird: Target Species

I don't know when it appeared, but a new function on eBird, "Target Species," has some really exciting applications.

If you don't know about eBird, I wrote 20 posts about eBird, and how to get the most out of it, from 2010-2012 on my (now inactive) Pacific NW Birder blog. Suffice it to say, I said, without hyperbole: "eBird is an absolutely indispensable real time world-wide bird status and distribution tool."

I've been living in San Diego County, now, for just over a year. Here's a question I want to know: What species that I haven't seen yet are the easiest to find in the county? Even more practical: What birds that I haven't seen yet in the county are the most likely for me to find next month?

Those questions are answered with the Target Species function in eBird. What did I learn?

The top 5 reported birds in the county, for the entire year, that I haven't seen yet are these:
1. Snowy Plover
2. Lawrence's Goldfinch
3. Red-crowned Parrot
4. Hermit Warbler
5. Canyon Wren

Well, it's winter now, so I'm not going to see some of these birds as easily now as later in the year. So, how about I use this eBird function to plan birding trips next month to look for some of these "easy" ones? What are the top 5 reported birds in January that I have yet to see in San Diego County?

1. Snowy Plover
2. Reddish Egret
3. Green-tailed Towhee
4. Red-crowned Parrot
5. Virginia Rail

Now, I have a reasonable list of target birds to look for in the next month or so. I can use eBird Needs Alert and the San Diego Region Birding email list to learn of recent reports of these birds. I can also use the eBird map function to map all previous reports and look at only winter.