Date: 10/29/20 8:47 pm
From: Paul Sullivan <paultsullivan...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Catharus thrush phenology: eBird Target List data

Thanks for your interest, and the effort you put into your offer. I especially appreciate the link to the method for importing spreadsheet data into eBird. I’ll keep that.

But here’s the deal. I already know what species I haven’t seen in each of the counties, the state, etc. I can quickly look at my county lists spreadsheet and extract a list of birds I haven’t seen. I also know how hard these new birds are to find. They are birds that you find after you’ve already found the first 200 or 250 easier species.

I don’t need to put my data into eBird just to have it tell me that Rarity X appears on zero or .00001 checklists in county Y. For me, that would be a lot of work for no gain. I don’t plan to use the “target” feature of eBird for planning my personal trips.

I may use it in the way Wayne did, to look up the frequency of species X in location Y in month Z.

We keep learning. Thanks again.


From: Nagi Aboulenein [mailto:<nagi.aboulenein...>]
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2020 3:21 PM
To: Wayne Weber <contopus...>; <paultsullivan...>
Cc: <obol...>
Subject: Re: [obol] Re: Catharus thrush phenology: eBird Target List data

Hi Paul -

I’ll second Paul’s comments - learning how to create a target list has been very instructive, thanks to all!

Paul - regarding your incomplete eBird lists. There are two options for catching up your eBird lists to your actual lists, to enable creation of target lists.

You mention the obvious option - to enter in full detail all of your accumulated notes and lists into eBird.

However, there is also another option, if you just want to enter the data for the purpose of creating such target lists, or life lists, or whatever other lists eBird may be able to create :-).

Basically, there is an eBird-approved way to enter historical data that would only be relevant to your personal listing. It means that the entered data won’t be usable for scientific purposes, but will be usable for creating your personal life/needs/target lists. The way it works is that you enter the data with whatever amount of geographical detail you desire (county-level, GPS coordinates, or just state or region level), but with an observation date of January 1, 1900.

eBird knows to ignore any data entered with that historic data for scientific research purposes.

The process can be further automated by creating a spreadsheet in Excel that contains that data, which can then be imported into eBird in one fell swoop, instead of using eBird’s web interface for entering this historic data.

So there would still be some amount of data entry needed, but it’s much simpler than detailed entry of every single sighting over your birding life into eBird. Whether even that is worth the effort is a separate and subjective question.

If you decide to go down this road, I’d be happy to help with the step of importing the data into eBird once you have the necessary spreadsheets. Here is a link describing the spreadsheet format requirements:

Good birding!


Nagi Aboulenein

On Oct 29, 2020, 13:49 -0700, Paul Sullivan <paultsullivan...> <mailto:<paultsullivan...> >, wrote:

Many, many thanks to Wayne Weber, Steve Holzman, Skip Russel, Ken Chamberlain, Andy Frank, Tom Crabtree, Steve Kornfeld for their replies to my question about the “Target List” feature of eBird. Thanks too, to Jamie Simmons for his repeated offers to help me with eBird.

I had never clicked on the “Target Species” link on the eBird Explore page. I understand that it gives you a list of the birds you haven’t seen in a particular country, state, county, with a probability of finding them.

As Steve Kornfeld mentioned, you need to have all your lists loaded into eBird for this to work as intended. That’s the catch.

eBird thinks my Yamhill county life list is 90 species and my 2020 list is 26 species.

REALITY: my Yamhill county life list is 233 species and my 2020 list is 164 species.

eBird thinks my Lincoln county life list is 45 species and my 2020 list is 17 species.

REALITY: my Lincoln county life list is 294 species and my 2020 list is 87 species.

[I know my numbers because I’ve kept track in my own record system, without loading 40 years of daily sightings

and all 8,275 of my Oregon county birds into eBird.]

Moral of the story: You need to be a full-on eBird contributor to get full use of all its features.

Apart from that, for someone like me who just wants to find out something, there is utility in eBird. It’s just not simple, intuitive, easy. I see from Wayne’s example that he got useful information out of the data.

Again, thanks all of those who answered my question. You educated me a bit more. I appreciate it.

Paul Sullivan

From: Wayne Weber [mailto:<contopus...>]
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2020 9:49 AM
To: PAUL SULLIVAN <paultsullivan...> <mailto:<paultsullivan...> >
Subject: RE: Catharus thrush phenology: eBird Target List data


The eBird “Target List” feature can be found at this URL: .

Normally, this feature is useful only if you have ALL your bird sightings in eBird, and it is very helpful in determining the likelihood of seeing any species new to you in a county (or state) in any particular month (or group of months: for instance, you could request a target list for June thru August, inclusive). You can request a target list either for all years, or for just the current year.

If you don’t use eBird, it will give you a list of ALL species found in a particular county during a specific month, group of months, or even for the year, ranked in order of frequency. These lists are also of considerable interest.

To get the stats I provided, I asked for lists for the counties in question for October 2020. Because I have not visited Oregon this month (in fact, haven’t been able to enter the USA since last March because of Covid-19 restrictions!!), it gives me a list of all species ever recorded for those counties in October.

The eBird introduction to “Target Lists” is attached below:


eBird Targets

Targets is the ultimate way to discover new birds in an area. Whether you’re birding nearby for a weekend or planning a vacation, Targets can help you find everything from your next year bird in your county to your next world life bird.

"Targets" creates a prioritized list of county, state, or life birds that you can expect to find in a region. Enter a region, range of months, and then select which of your personal life lists you'd like to compare against. eBird compares your selected list against the full species list for the selected region and months.

The results can be sorted taxonomically or by frequency (the percentage of complete checklists that have reported the species). The higher the frequency, the more checklists contain that species, and the better your chances of finding it in that region!

Photo and audio targets are species you may have already reported, but have never uploaded a picture or sound recording of. To switch to Photo or Audio Targets, click the blue gear icon in the top right corner of the Target Species page.

Say you're traveling to Colombia this winter. You want to know what birds have been reported in Colombia that you've never observed anywhere before ("Life Birds"). Go to the eBird Target page, enter "Colombia" for the region, "December" for the Time of year, and ask for birds that you need for your "World" "Life List". Voilà—you now have a list of the species that would be your most likely “lifers” in Colombia at that time of year.


For example, here are the top 10 species in frequency in Yamhill County in October, based on the 327 lists I mentioned previously. (The total list for the month is 151 species.)

California Scrub-Jay <> 56.64% frequency

American Robin <> 49.05%


Northern Flicker <> 45.80%


Song Sparrow <> 40.92%

European Starling <> 36.59%

6. Dark-eyed Junco <> 36.04%


7. Spotted Towhee <> 32.52%


8. Black-capped Chickadee <> 31.71%


9. Mallard <> 29.81%


10. Canada Goose <> 29.54%

I hope all this is helpful!

Wayne Weber

<contopus...> <mailto:<contopus...>

From: Paul Sullivan [mailto:<paultsullivan...>]
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2020 9:03 AM
To: 'Wayne Weber'; <obol...> <mailto:<obol...>
Subject: RE: Catharus thrush phenology: eBird Target List data

Hi Wayne,

Thanks for this information; it sheds good light on the question at hand.

However, your explanation begs one question. Who knew there was something called “Target” feature in eBird? And how would one ever find it? Could you give a naïve, ordinary person directions to get to get to such a feature?

Does one have to be signed up with eBird, have a large battery of eBird checklists on file, and a “wish list” of birds in location X to use the “Target” feature?

Asking for a friend.

Paul Sullivan

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