Friday, March 31, 2017

Sign up for eBird

A Mallard pair has staked out a territory along Canandaigua Outlet Creek where it passes near the Manchester Gateway Trail in Ontario County, NY. (photo © Dave Spier)
The checklist with map link is at

Note: If you ever participated in Project FeederWatch, the Great Backyard Bird Count, or any of the seven other Cornell Lab of Ornithology citizen-science projects, you can sign in to eBird with the same username and password. If you do not have these, the first step to using eBird is to create a free account. When you try to submit observations, first you'll reach the sign-in page,

eBird sign-in page -- look for "Create an Account" on the right side
Look toward the lower right for "Create an Account" and click that link to eBird's website account page,

eBird's Create an Account page

Here you will fill in your name and email address, pick a user name (just for signing in) and finally create a password. Important, write down and save that information with your laptop, computer or mobile device. If you ever change your email address, please update it in your eBird account so we can contact you, for example to discuss a rare bird sighting or send you a password reset.

The basic instructions are also at the beginning of this article, which then continues through the steps for submitting your bird checklist via the website.

If you have a mobile device, there is a free eBird App that would be useful for future travels. Here's a set of instructions:

If you have any questions, please email me at

About eBird

adult male Pileated Woodpecker on homemade suet log - © Dave Spier
complete eBird checklist at

About eBird

eBird allows you to keep all of your birding records in a way that makes them available to scientific research and conservation. The eBird motto is 
"Global tools for birders, critical data for science." (and it's free!)

The following is adapted from the eBird website About page (

Record the birds you see
Keep track of your bird lists
Explore dynamic maps and graphs
Share your sightings and join the eBird community
Receive rare bird alerts
Contribute to science and conservation

Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird gathers data from birders around the world to develop basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of space and time scales. eBird’s goal is to harness the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers. In return, birders have free and permanent storage of all their sightings and birding lists (such as life, country, state, county, etc.).
Each participant's observations join those of others in an international network. eBird then shares these observations with a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. This data set is becoming the foundation for a better understanding of bird distribution across the western hemisphere and now beyond.

How Does it Work?
eBird documents the presence or absence of species, as well as bird abundance through checklist data. A simple web-interface, or the alternative mobile app, engages tens of thousands of participants to submit their observations. Results can be viewed via interactive queries on the eBird website. Users are encouraged to participate by providing internet tools to maintain their personal bird records and enable them to visualize data with interactive maps, graphs, and bar charts.
A birder simply enters when, where, and how they went birding, then fills out a checklist of all the birds seen and heard during the outing. eBird provides various options for data gathering including point counts, transects, and area searches. Automated data quality filters developed by regional bird experts review all submissions before they enter the database. Local experts review unusual records that are flagged by the filters.

To get started using eBird, see these articles:
entering data via website:
entering data via mobile app:
I'll elaborate in future blog posts starting with creating a free account.

Data Accessibility
eBird data are stored in a secure facility and archived daily, and are accessible to anyone via the eBird web site and other applications developed by the global biodiversity information community. For example, eBird data are part of the Avian Knowledge Network (AKN), which integrates observational data on bird populations across the western hemisphere. In turn, the AKN feeds eBird data to international biodiversity data systems, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). In this way any contribution made to eBird increases our understanding of the distribution, richness, and uniqueness of the biodiversity of our planet.

For more information on birds, including photos and sounds, visit All About Birds.
Explore Data has an interactive range map for any species (zoomable to your location).
map link: and type in a species

Corrections, comments and questions are always welcome at 
or connect through my Facebook page. (

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bird Surveys at Ganondagan SHS, NY

Grassland Bird Surveys at Ganondagan SHS south of Victor, NY (southeast of Rochester) will expand in 2017. Two primary goals of the surveys are to support the designation of Ganondagan as a NYS Bird Conservation Area (BCA) in 2017 and to aid in assessing conservation and habitat-restoration efforts going forward.  Help will be needed and greatly appreciated. Data will be collected using eBird, a free program. ("About eBird" and data-entry instructions for both the free website and free Mobile App are linked at the bottom.*) While grassland birds are emphasized, it's important to record ALL the bird species detected along with their counts or estimated counts. For conservation purposes, we need to know population trends.

For general information on NYS BCA's, go to This is a state-level program on state lands, but otherwise it's similar to Audubon's Important Bird Areas (IBA) initiative.

The first 9 survey points (out of 61 planned) are active and can be used by any ebirder. Go to Hotspot Explorer - - and type in "Ganondagan SHS" and you'll see a list of all the locations. The two general hotspots are always available for any sort of birding at Ganondagan or for birds detected between survey points.

The protocol for the Ganondagan SHS grassland bird surveys, along with maps and sample data sheets, has been revised and can be emailed as a 4-page PDF. Stationary point counts will be 5-7 minutes long depending on habitat. Essentially it's five minutes in open habitat and seven in the more wooded settings. A series or sequence of two or more of the 5-7 minute counts at one point would aid detectability studies for each species reported.

eBird Hotsops (red markers) at Ganondagan SHS (satellite view)
There are five annual target surveys for each point: spring and fall migrations, breeding start and end, and one winter comparison. There is, however, no limit to the number of visits you can make, and ongoing, year-round coverage [weather permitting] would provide the greatest benefit for ornithological research and conservation. Please check the protocol PDF for all reporting details including weather notes and other information to include when using survey points. Non-ebirders can use paper forms or email their results to me at and I will forward them to Alexis VanWinkle, Supervising Conservation Steward, Ganondagan State Historic Site, 1488 Rt. 444, Victor, NY, 14564. She is headquartered at the Environmental Field Office, a.k.a. the old visitor center at the top of the hill near the blinking red light. Alexis is "more than willing to host introductory 'meetings' with anyone interested in helping on this project!" You can also contact Dave Spier or Alexis VanWinkle by facebook message.

Eastern Meadowlark, a grassland nesting species (© Dave Spier)

List of eBird hotspots at Ganondagan SHS with links and GPS coordinates
Ganondagan SHS    42.9635518, -77.4154615   
Ganondagan SHS--Fort Hill site    42.9615576, -77.4322844
survey pt. (Bluestem Unit, 4.7) 42.964159, -77.426105
survey pt. (Bluestem Unit, 4.8) 42.961625, -77.427503  
survey pt. (Bobolink Unit, 8.13) 42.95462, -77.42846  
survey pt. (Dogwood Unit, 3.6) 42.96454, -77.42163  
survey pt. (Farmhouse, 7.12) 42.95934, -77.42494   
survey pt. (Fort Hill, 5.10) 42.96411, -77.43416   
survey pt. (Fort Hill, 5.9) 42.96125, -77.43361   
survey pt. (Hickory Unit, 6.11)   42.959052, -77.429034
survey pt. (Pollinator Grassland, 2.5)  42.96364, -77.41364

*List of eBird links:
About eBird:
Entering data in eBird (website):
Entering data in eBird (Mobile App):