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eBird Launches New Animated Migration Maps

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eBird is a free online tool for birders that allows you to record the birds you see and keep track of your lists anywhere around the world. Each time you submit an observation to eBird, the record is permanently archived, made available to birders, and also to researchers and conservationists. Our simple hypothesis is that data collected by birders can help scientists better understand bird population dynamics and occurrence.

Recently, we've started to reveal some of the preliminary results of our efforts to model bird distribution at large scales using eBird data. Basically, these models correlate bird occurrence (i.e., your bird observations) with a suite of remotely-sensed variables (e.g., land-cover, climate) to create predictive surfaces of bird distribution at very large scales for each day of the year. By looking at these surfaces across time, we can begin to explore patterns in how bird populations migrate. Check out the Swainson's Hawk animation for a good example of differential migration. This analysis technique, called Spatio Temporal Exploratory Modeling, was recently published in Ecological Applications, but we're also featuring new results on the eBird website.

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The image above is an estimated occurrence map for American Pipit on 25 October 2008, at the tail-end of fall migration.

Each visualization on the eBird site has a brief analysis authored primarily by Marshall Iliff. These notes help the reader interpret what's happening on the maps, and also provide some biological grounding for observed patterns. Marshall also does a great job outlining the caveats associated with these maps, and while there's no doubt that these are far from perfect in some cases, we're really excited by these results. We invite you to enjoy these new migration animations, and comment about them here or on the eBird Blog.

Your continued participation in eBird will greatly improve our ability to model bird distribution at large scales, and we appreciate all your efforts!

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Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan

Brian L. Sullivan conducts fieldwork on birds throughout North America and beyond. He is Project Leader for eBird and the Avian Knowledge Network and Photographic Editor for Birds of North America Online. Sullivan has written and consulted on various publications on North American birds. Among his numerous articles are several that have appeared recently in Birding magazine—on such topics as molt in migrating raptors, Harlan's and Krider's hawks, thrush identification, birding in hurricanes, and of course eBird. Sullivan lives in central coastal California, and birds everywhere.
  • http://www.thedrinkingbirdblog.com Nate

    This stuff is amazing, Brian. I’ve given a couple talks on eBird to local bird clubs in the hopes of encouraging its use in North Carolina, and the capper is always showing these maps.

    The people I talk to are always really impressed that the data they enter contributes to such an attractive representation of bird movements.

  • http://www.yourbirdoasis.com Chantelle Simoes

    eBird is such a great tool/resource, thank Brian!

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