American Birding Podcast



Help Fill the eBird Gaps

It probably goes without saying that many of the readers of the blog are active eBirders. In recent years, eBird has become the go-to site for questions of bird distribution and abundance, and as birders continue to enter their older data the historical side of the equation continues to get better and better which makes eBird a more and more robust tool. I’m an eBird evangelical these days, as are many of us at the ABA.

As of June 2014, eBird has recorded sightings of 9902 species of birds, a full 96%  of the recognized bird species on the planet. But they’re still looking for that last 4%, which is where you all come in.

The folks at Cornell have put together a list of those last few hundred species not yet entered into the database, and it’s a who’s who of the extinct, the very very rare, and the very difficult to find. Highly secretive species, endemics from dozens of islands in the south Pacific, and the recently extinct all rub alulas in what is really a fascinating list in its own right. You could say that the lack of eBird data supports the notion that these are the hardest birds in the world to find. But someone out there has certainly found them, and eBird needs those people’s checklists.


Have you seen Long-billed Partridge (left), New Guinea Wood Rail (center) or Iris Lorikeet (right)? We need your data. photos from wikipedia

Interesting, about 25% of the missing species are species from the Malay Archipelago, a region of phenomenal diversity but one in which even the more popular birding spots (like Borneo and New Guinea) are very difficult to access. Other hotspots of inactivity include, perhaps unsurprisingly, central Africa and Amazonian South America. Birders who have spent time in those locales may have old checklists that would be much desired.

So if you’re a globe-trotting birder with some data to share, or just a birder interested in the rarest and most difficult to see birds in the world, have a look at eBird’s list and pitch in if you can!