Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New eBird data entry page released!

eBird today released their new data entry page. I've been testing the beta version for a few weeks and appreciate the new layout and changes.

Some of the new tweaks that I appreciate are...

-- Two pages instead of 3 to submit a list: This makes adding a new checklist even quicker and easier. A checklist with 35 species in an area you've birded before only takes a minute or two to enter.

-- Single column species entry: I didn't mind the 3-column species entry, because I didn't have to scroll down as much. However, it seems most people do like the single column format. It eliminates problems accidentally entering data in the wrong species box. It will be easier for using smart phone and hand-held computer eBird apps.

-- Customizable species entry list: This is exceptionally nifty. You can choose to show the full checklist, including subspecies and rare birds, or just a portion. You can also choose to show just the most likely species for each location! I think this will help newer birders know what to expect in season--teaching status and distribution!

-- Easy species comments information: As eBird is a scientific tool, as well as a public list keeping program, it is very important that species entered are correctly identified. eBird is used by scientists, birders, and school children. Thus, an army of volunteers examine data for possible errors.

In the previous version, if you saw something unexpected, the eBird program would tell you and ask if you were sure. Then, a Reviewer would look at your report and send an email to you asking for more details.

Now, this is more automatic. When you see an unusual bird, add comments about what plumage or behavior you saw to make the ID, who else saw it, or anything else that you think the Reviewer needs to know about your unusual sighting. Then the Reviewer can read your comments without the need to contact you further!

-- Breeding bird codes: This feature was not enabled on the beta version. It's been a dozen years since Oregon finished its 5-year breeding bird atlas project. I must say, searching for breeding birds was a very fun thing to do in late spring and summer (right now). So I'm anxious to see how this feature is used.