Thursday, October 11, 2007

eBird Data Import

About a month ago, eBird announced the release of a data import tool. Normally, contributors to eBird submit sightings through a checklist form with a web browser interface. The data import tool allows users to upload spreadsheet files (in csv format) instead. The advantage is that one can submit many records at once, instead of filling out one checklist at a time. It will help individuals (and organizations) that maintain their own datasets to share their sightings with other birders and scientists.

Data import is currently in beta-testing. If you would like to try it, contact eBird at the link above for directions. I signed up as a beta tester and found that the process works well. Proper formatting of the data does take some time. Spreadsheets need to have the columns and rows in a standard order for importation, and species names and other terminology need to be consistent. It helps if you provide coordinates for a location the first time it appears in the dataset. (Here is a site to find latitude and longitude.)

I like this tool because it provides an easier way to coordinate my records on Avisys and eBird. Some features are promised to make importation from birding software easier. I find that the process works fairly well for Avisys records as it is.