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Bird Lovers Apps and eBird Track Bird Migration Flights and Population Status

Updated on November 20, 2016
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Dr. John applies his scientific (PhD) research skills & 30 years experience as an inventor & futurist to review technology, apps, software.

Bird lovers are a dedicated lot. For eons they have manually recorded sightings in their local patch and kept up to date lists of species they have seen and identified in their local neighborhood.

Like most things, the Internet and the adoption of high-tech methods, websites and mobile apps with GPS trackers has boosted the value of these observations when combined into a database that offers real time sighting data.

There are a number of fabulous apps that devoted bird lovers can use to send information to researchers in their local community and country. The eBird and BirdTrack websites are perhaps the largest and most comprehensive.

Chimney swift migration is tracked by birdwatchers fed into websites that compile real time data
Chimney swift migration is tracked by birdwatchers fed into websites that compile real time data | Source
Real Time tracking of Bird Migration (Chimney swift) using crowdsource data from dedicated bird watchers
Real Time tracking of Bird Migration (Chimney swift) using crowdsource data from dedicated bird watchers | Source
Real Time tracking of Bird Migration using data from bird watchers for the  Chimney swift in U.S.A.
Real Time tracking of Bird Migration using data from bird watchers for the Chimney swift in U.S.A. | Source

Birdwatching Gets a Makeover and Becomes High-Tech

The British BirdTrack website is a joint effort of various bird watching and research groups throughout Great Britain. Bird watchers can store and manage their own personal bird watching records by logging into the site. The data is amalgamated and used to track bird movements and distribution through the UK on local, regional, national and international scales for migratory birds.

The eBird site, launched in 2002, has transformed the way bird lovers report and access information about birds into a one-stop shop - Information, Reporting and Real Time data available online. In one month in March 2012, enthusiasts recorded and entered more than 3 million sightings across North America.

There is a global international network of eBird users. The data collected are shared with educators, ornithologists, conservationists, land managers, and planning organisations for environmental impacts assessments. The system is available in English, French and Spanish.

eBird’s daily view of bird movements can be used to generate 'heat maps' that shows maps of bird sightings with densities shown in various colors (see examples). These maps are very useful for tracking migrations. There are now heat maps for more than 300 species. eBird has compiled a massive database or 141 million reports in 169 countries, and this number is increasing by 40% a year. Wonderful apps that enable bird lovers to compile their own records sightings. They can also compare their sighting records with those of their friendly rivals. They can also use it as a live sighting report journal to literally rush to a new location where a bird they have never seen was last sighted. friends. When bird lovers travel and they alight from their plane and switch on their phones they can instantly see a list of birds seen in the local area over the last 7 days.

Bird enthusiasts often undertake regular excursions into wetlands and conservation reserves, their own backyards and nearby parks and public places. They simply enter details of where, when and how they went out birding. Using online tools they then complete a checklist of all the birds seen (and heard) during their excursion. There are a number of options available for reporting the sightings including transects, point counts and area searches. Automated data quality assurance filters and tests, developed by regional bird experts, validate the information before it is entered into the database. Any unusual or unexpected sightings are flagged to be checked to ensure the compiled data are not ruined by identification errors. Comprehensive bird identification resources are available via links on the website.

Eremaea Birds is another international site that complies a birding atlas using data from members' bird lists.

Interested in Getting involved?

There are some wonderful bird watching apps for Apple and Android Devices to help you get started, including:

► Audubon Birds
► iBird Pro
► National Geographic Birds
► Peterson Birds
► Sibley eGuide to Birds

© 2013 Dr. John Anderson

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