Date: 2/10/18 10:05 am
From: 'Hugh Kingery' via Colorado Birds <cobirds...>
Subject: [cobirds] Musings on eBird

On Feb. 1, I hit a milestone: and even 10,000 checklists-on-eBird, and yesterday, reached the10,000 Complete-checklists milestone.That started me musing about various eBird topics.

Over half my submittals (which should have Urling's name on them too, but don't) list birds seen at our house in Franktown (or rather within a 200-acre area including our house). Somehow I should try to analyze them to look for trends, but I don't know the ins & outs of collating the data. I have the same data on Excel spread sheets, with the same challenge.

Many of my checklists record observations back to my early days of birdwatching -- beginning in 1945. One set lists birds at a place that no longer exists (Longmont buried it with a reservoir.). And I still have more paper records to pour into the eBird including about 15 years of records for our Denver house. In Denver we took 20 years to achieve a house list of 100; in Franktown it took us one year.

* * *

Recent eBird manifestos have suggested various 'enhancements.'

Mobile: Now the mobile app will track us from start to finish - miles & time. Seems convenient.
When we go to the Walker Road Cherry Creek trailhead: sometimes Urling drives, sometimes I do. I start eBird in the car (warmer); but eBird thinks that the two starts -- driver and passenger -- start different routes.
And with, I think, the same, route, sometimes it Tracks and sometimes it doesn't.

Trail units: When we walk a trail and come back the same way, eBird wants separate lists going & coming. eBird thinks it will learn something from the separate up and back lists. This adds to the number of checklists that you submit. So now I faithfully divide up our regular walks on the Cherry Creek trail into two parts. I don't know how this correlates with the Cherry Creek Trail HotSpot.

Counties: eBird wants us to divide our lists by counties -- notably at South Platte Res. & Chatfield Res. I don't really care what counties the loon swims in and out of. [We once watched a Black Phoebe fly across the Rio Grande River from Conejos County into Costilla County, and that seemed memorable. But If I entered both, it would appear that two phoebes had occurred instead of one. Same with Prairie Falcons nesting along the river. ]

Road trips: Recently eBird directed us that, on driving trips, we divide the road-trip into smaller sections (one, in 2016 suggested 5 miles units; more recently it mentioned 15-mile units). That adds to the number of checklists and helps to locate the hawks as you speed along I-76. Either 30 or 10 checklists per 150 miles.
However --- on the all-day Christmas, spring, and fall bird counts at Rocky Mtn. Arsenal NWR, we drive 30 miles & walk 4-6 miles. The 30- miles includes some roads one-way and some back and forth, at various times of day, sometimes several times. The roads go in and out of several habitats -- grassland, marsh, pond, riparian. Going 30 miles back & forth on the same road or branching out from them doesn't correspond to speeding 30 miles on I-76.
My records for several hundred Breeding Bird Atlas blocks don't separate roads or habitats, so when I enter those data I pick a point in the middle of the block; these encompass 10 square miles.

eBird has various foibles that I find deflating.
I can't delete two 'shared' contacts, apparently because the entry has two email addresses.
It never recognizes the moniker for our Franktown home, even after 5,000 checklists. . . . Yet it quickly picks up on bird names that it doesn't recognize the first time you plug it in (like Bullock's Oriole instead of Northern). . . .
Checking up on my old (or not so old) records offers challenges -- trying to plow through 406 pages of records.

The great people who man the buttress, in Ithaca and in Colorado, respond promptly and courteously to queries. They have a fascinating and monumental task -- and vision.

Hugh Kingery
Franktown, CO

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