Friday, April 15, 2016

A secret eBird function: most-recently seen

&rank=mrec
&rank=lrec

I've been after the eBird development crew for a few years to add an option to sort lists by the most-recently seen, in addition to the first-time seen (Life Bird).

The way it is now, if you create your life list and then sort by date, the first bird on your list will be your very first bird ever recorded for eBird. In my case, it is a Red-breasted Sapsucker seen in Oregon in 1972.

I've seen lots of Red-breasted Sapsuckers since that first one. The question I really want to ask now is, "What is the bird that I haven't seen in the longest time?" In my case, as far as eBird records go, it is a Black-billed Cuckoo on my grandfather's farm in Minnesota in June 1977. In all my 40 years since then, I have never seen another Black-billed Cuckoo.

Why would you want this feature? Well, if you were doing a County Big Year you might want to know which species you haven't seen in years, and concentrate on finding those. Even if you are not into Big Years or listing, per se, wouldn't it be nice to have eBird make you a list of birds you haven't seen in a very long time? Then you could plan some trips to look for them--perhaps in an area or habitat you haven't visited in a while.

eBird Most Recent
A section of my "Most-recent" list of birds I've seen in Washington County, Oregon. These aren't the first time I saw these birds in the county, rather, the last time I saw them there!
It is true that many of the birds you haven't seen for a long time are likely to be rarer. But perhaps you'll find there are a few that are common enough that you just haven't seen in a while. It's time you became reacquainted!

Recently, I stumbled upon the answer when I was researching the Hotspots in eBird. One of the lists for birds in the Hotspots is most-recently-seen birds!

Ready? Here's how:

In eBird go to "My eBird"
Click on the link for number of birds you've seen in "My Life List"
Your life list now appears
In the web browser bar (the one beginning "ebird.org/ebird/MyEBird?cmd..." go to the end of the link and add the following characters with no spaces: "&rank=mrec"
Hit ENTER or click the reload page button to send the command.

There's your list of the very last time you've seen each species!

This works with any of your lists: Life, Country, State, County.

NOTE: when all done, do it again with "&rank=lrec" this time to bring it back to the default order, or your lists will be stuck with most-recent first.