Saturday, January 16, 2010

Using eBird Species Maps

Another cool tool on eBird is "Species Mapping".  I use this tool when I want to go looking for a specific species or when I am simply wondering about a bird's range.  This information is only as good as the people and number of people entering their observations and with time it gets better and better. 

I created this series of screen shots to show you how I use the species mapping tool.  Let's use the example of me wanting to see where Western Scrub-Jays have been seen in Idaho:

1.  First, click on the "View and Explore Data" tab, then click on "maps".

2.  Then enter the species of interest in the cell.  Once you start typing, eBird will begin suggesting species names from which you can select the one you are after.  This helps you to make sure you enter the species name correctly and it makes the whole process faster and more efficient.

3.  eBird then pulls up the default histogram and range map.  I highlighted with red boxes the information displayed, the time period shown and the location.  Notice the buttons with red arrows.  You can click on these to narrow down or expand the location, time period, or even change the species from here. This map gives you a great view of the Western Scrub-Jay's North American distribution.

4.  Now, let's say I want to narrow down the data to just Idaho sightings of Western Scrub-Jays.  Click on the "Change Location" button shown above and it will bring up this screen.  Select the State from the list.  You could even select your own locations if those are your areas of interest.

5.  This brings up a map of Idaho with red markers showing where the Western Scrub-Jay as been observed between 2006 and 2010.  From here, I could click on the "Change Date" button to show just 2010 or I could expand it to include all previous years, or just about any date range I want.

6.  These maps have a great zoom-in tool as well. Click on the little magnifying glass with a plus sign in it.  This allows you to click-and-drag a box over the area you want to zoom into:

7.  You can click on the red markers and it pulls up the details of the observation.  For example, my sighting of three Western Scrub-Jays at City of Rocks National Reserve in October of 2009.

I hope you find the eBird species mapping tool as useful as I have.  And I hope this helps you see why your observations are so important.  Keep entering those bird checklists of your daily sightings into eBird and these maps will become even better tools for birders and scientists alike.

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