Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two New eBird Projects

At the end of last week, eBird announced two projects designed to improve the quality of its database. The first, and most important for continental and regional range information, is the County Birding Project. One problem with the current eBird database is that some counties, especially ones near metropolitan areas, get strong coverage from birders while other counties are barely covered at all. Within counties, population centers are often well-covered while outlying areas are not. There are suggestions at the link for surveys to improve county coverage, both within counties and regionally.

To assist in the project, eBird added a new checklist type for random location counts. Random locations are locations at fixed intervals along a driving (or cycling) route.

The county birding announcement links to a spreadsheet with county checklist totals from across the country. As one might expect, few counties in New Jersey are lacking in checklists. The county with the lowest number of checklists, Salem, has 449. The next lowest is Warren, with 949. Even nearby states are pretty well covered compared to other areas of the country. For example, South Dakota has 22 counties in single digits. Also, Nate's Century Club could fill some gaps.

The second announcement was for a Site Survey Project. This concept is not all that new, since eBird has long encouraged users to bird the same locations regularly to compile the most useful data. The new part is that users can register sites where they expect to bird at least once per week and participate in a discussion group about site surveys.