Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cool eBird Features: Big Day Planning!

I am considering making a run at an Ada County - Idaho Big Day in 2010.  Hopefully it will give me a strong showing for the 210 in 2010: eBird Idaho Competition too.

To help me determine which week would yield the largest number of bird species I ran an eBird report for Ada County as well as the surrounding counties for good measure.  I ran the dates wide open; from 1900 through 2009 to show all previously entered data.

Next, to make it easy to count how many species were seen each week of the year, I clicked on "Download Histogram Data":

The data downloads into an Excel Spreadsheet.  The data looks daunting with all kinds of decimal numbers that don't make sense at first glance.  For the sake of my research here, I don't care what the numbers are in each cell, but rather if there is a number or not because it indicates if the species was seen that week or not.  I put in a "count if greater than zero" formula at the bottom of each column so it would tell me how many species were seen that week... and BAM!

From this spreadsheet, I can now see that the last two weeks of May show the greatest number of species seen in my region of Idaho.  Now I realize that this data is only as good as the people entering it and especially the number of people entering it, but I hope it acurately represents the best possible birding week in Ada County.

It does make me a little nervous seeing that previous Idaho Big Day records occured on June 9th and June 1st (176 in 2005 and 174 in 2004 by the team of Bob Kemp, Steve Gross, Ron Weeks) indicating that the first weeks of June might be better weeks, but they didn't have the advantage of eBird data!

The next step will be to use eBird data on maps to show me the most probably location to see each bird species and then map out the most efficient route to see them all in 24 hours.

Can you also see how eBird data might benefit scientists like wildlife biologists and ornithologists as they track the comings and goings and numbers of each species?! 

Please be an eBirder!

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