Date: 12/6/18 1:24 pm
From: W. Douglas Robinson <w.douglas.robinson...>
Subject: [obol] Re: new CBCs and gaps
Here he goes again…eBird this, eBird that. But, why do we need new CBCs to fill gaps in winter bird information?

We could have fun visiting a poorly-counted place, coordinate the counting so multiple teams are out on the same day in nearby areas, and share results at the end of the day over hot food and drinks, all without the paperwork and bu-ro-crazy of a CBC.

In fact, simply eBirding the effort could be argued to be more scientifically useful. If each party created new checklists for each place they counted birds, instead of summing up (guessing) how many birds of each species they had all day long in their CBC section, then the counts are actually much more useful for repeat efforts in the future.

Let’s face it, CBC protocol has barely changed in 100 years. But we have learned a whole lot about the problems of using such bird count data to learn much that is scientifically defensible about population changes over time. One of the biggest challenges is not knowing exactly where the data were gathered (variation from year to year in routes, time at stops in sector, different observers who count numbers in different ways, etc, ad nauseam). With eBird it is very easy to create new personal locations at each stop you make all day long and keep more accurate count data that someone then has a chance to repeat with some level of confidence they are doing it the same way you did.

No constraints of staying inside the circle of a diameter that has no clear biological justification. No commitment to try and count it every year. No worries about minimum number of people participating. Also no worries about site overlap or avoiding double counting. All the modern bird counting literature says that we can soooo much more about bird numbers when we DO count the same sites more than once.

Identify some of the under-birded places, gather up interested friends to go count birds, archive the data in eBird (call it a CeBC, if you will), socialize, and then go find another under-explored place next time.

At some future time, eBorg will eat the CBC database anyway. It makes logical sense and National Audubon is an eBird partner. Maybe this dire prediction of assimilation gives us a little extra willingness to feel like we can make meaningful contributions without being inside an official circle.

But continue supporting your favorite CBCs. I look forward to a couple myself this winter.


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