Sunday, February 10, 2013

eBird best practices: list building

eBird is designed to automatically show your lists (county, state, year, life, etc.) as you enter your bird sightings. In fact, even if you're not a lister, eBird could turn you into one--especially a county lister!

What about past sightings? Well, as we discussed in Enter your old field lists, you may enter older sightings and field lists, adding species to your lists that you may not have seen recently. The point comes, though, when you have entered all your old lists and some species are still missing that were never in your field notes, or you just have too many old lists to enter and you get tired of waiting, and you want to enter just your list of bird species ever seen, without entering every individual bird you've ever seen.

eBird is not designed (yet) just to enter bird lists without exact date and location. But I know that you will be tempted to enter your state or county life lists without knowing exactly where or when you saw the bird. In other words, you are going to "cheat" and enter a dummy field list.

Since I know you're going to do it, I'm going to tell you how... without messing up the data integrity of eBird.

 If you want to enter a life list for an entire state you can do so by submitting data in the entry called "Select an entire city, county, or state." If you enter only the state and country into the required fields your list should automatically be considered invalid because the location is too imprecise for eBird. There are two additional steps that you can take to flag these dummy lists. These steps must be done if you are submitting a dummy county list. Add a comment in the comments field that the list is a dummy for listing purposes. Change the date to January 1, 1900. That is the earliest date eBird accepts without special request.

If you do these three things an eBird reviewer will know to block the list data from eBird: 1. submit as a county or state only without a specific location, 2. add a comment that the checklist is for listing purposes only, and 3. make the date January 1, 1900. The birds in such a blocked list will not be added to eBird's abundance bar charts, but they will still show up in your personal lists.