Date: 5/6/19 9:41 pm
From: Tom McNamara <tmcmac67...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Ebird--avoid using the "x" in checklists because...
Joel,

I don't know jack about statistics but I was figuring the probability of
hearing from you dissing eBird was approaching 1.

And I wasn't wrong.

You are, of course, entirely entitled to your opinion of ebird and of
expressing that opinion. I would observe, in passing, that that
opinion--of the multiple
failings of ebird---has been pretty well aired on OBOL over the years. I
am nowhere near versed enough in the technicalities of statistics and
methodologies employed by ebird nor do I give enough of a shit to school up
on it. Probability of not doing that is indeed 1. So your observation of
: " This article lacks a technical explanation of what it claims." doesn't
particularly interest me. Consider: the link is to ebird's explanation
of what they find useful, that's all. Given, that using ebird is *entirely
voluntary*--- if they explicitly ask that if one is going to submit a
checklist anyway would one just please make an estimate
rather than an "x"----e.g. are there 5 noisy, unseen Pine Siskins or are
there 14? ---seems like a pretty benign request. Make a conservative
estimate and call it good, no stress. Oh, and all starling flocks have
200 birds ...except when they don't.

It kinda boils down to what one, as an individual birder, even uses ebird
for. I would submit that A Lot of people just use it as a sorta handy way
to keep track of their birds and they are credulous enough to believe that
the people at Cornell are not actually closet Trumpists---and so incapable
of telling the truth---but instead want the data that we birders
voluntarily provide to ....do *something *with. I trust them with the very
very very serious matter of whether I put down 4 siskins or 14. With my
best guesstimate, it's on them. And that's all they're asking for. I'll
oblige and I hope other users will to.

Finally, I will happily take your suggestion of "..spend more time
enjoying the birds,... Totally agree. Tom






On Mon, May 6, 2019 at 8:21 PM <clearwater...> wrote:

> Tom and All,
>
> It doesn't actually "screw up the data" to give an X if you didn't count
> or even estimate numbers of a particular species.
>
> It just means that the eBird folks consider presence/absence data to be of
> low value compared with actual counts or even wild guesses of bird numbers,
> for the methods of analysis that they'd prefer to use.
>
> I read the article. It talks about "conservation value" without really
> defining what this means. Is there really conservation value in recording
> an estimate of European Starling numbers every time you see them? I
> sincerely doubt it. This article lacks a technical explanation of what it
> claims.
>
> There are ways to handle presence/absence data with indicator statistics
> etc. The math is a little more complicated than standard statistics, but
> not *that* much more complicated.
>
> Yes, the eBird folks would love it if everyone counted every single bird
> that they see, all day long. They're long on exhortations and short on
> demonstrations of why things like this really matter.
>
> My suggestion is to spend more time enjoying the birds, unless and until
> you see a clear scientific exposition of the marginal benefit of
> counting/estimating every starling flock that you see.
>
> Happy birdwatching,
> Joel
>
>
> Hi all,
>
> I strongly expect that I'm not alone in my former ignorance of why, when
> filling out a checklist, it is much preferred to put in a
> conservative-estimate numerical value rather than just "x". Even *if it's
> only for 1 or 2 entries *it screws up the data.
>
> Here's why in this 1-minute read. Now that I know, I'm a convert, it's
> just as easy.
> [
> https://help.ebird.org/customer/en/portal/articles/1006732-avoiding-the-use-of-x-in-checklists%E2%80%94why-you-should-always-estimate-numbers-?b_id=1928&t=435217
> |
> https://help.ebird.org/customer/en/portal/articles/1006732-avoiding-the-use-of-x-in-checklists%E2%80%94why-you-should-always-estimate-numbers-?b_id=1928&t=435217
> ]
>
> Thanks to Jay Withgott for telling me about this. good birding, Tom
>
> --
> Joel Geier
> Camp Adair area north of Corvallis
>
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