These last several months I have been pushing eBird on my fellow Idaho birders with missionary zeal. In order to motivate more Idaho birders to use eBird, I came up with the idea of doing a birding competition that required you to use eBird to participate in the event. I blog about eBird tools. I post weekly to IBLE with shameless eBird plugs. I'm not an official reviewer for eBird and have no direct connection with the eBird staff, other than the occasional e-mail. I'm one of the least experienced birders in the birding circles I know, but I have passion and potential. So why have I set myself up as an eBird promoter? What's in it for me? (I have been asked this by a couple discreet people.)
I wish my motivation was purely altruistic, but its not. There is no financial incentive for me in this, unless I win a portion of the eBird contest this year and get a prize! It all comes down to child-like wants:
I like birding. Birding is fun.
I want to see more birds.
I like to keep track of what I see.
I want to see what others are seeing.
I want more people to tell me what they are seeing.
I want a fast easy way for people to share what they are seeing.
I like friendly competition.
I like tracking bird arrivals and population patterns.
I like Life Lists and Year Lists and Month Lists.
I like maps.
eBird combines all of those "likes" and "wants" into one neat package and satisfies those cravings for me. Now that I have found a free tool to help me, I am delighted and my soul feels more satisfied that my selfish pursuits also benefit bird science...you know in an Adam Smith's capitalism kind of way. I am excited about how eBird data will help us better understand bird behavior. It will also help us make better policy decisions that protect birds and their habitat.
Other reasons for my promoting eBird are common to human nature. You find something you enjoy and you want to share it with others. Also, I want to be liked by other people, and maybe if I help them find greater enjoyment in birding through my blog and my help using eBird, they might like me. It all gratifies my pride and vanity and hopefully will help the birds and birders at the same time.