- I really want to help. What is the best way I can contribute bird observations?
- How do I get my data to you?
- I like my backyard and all, but I don’t live in a very birdy place. Can I still contribute if I only have House Sparrows and starlings?
- Birding from my yard sounds great, but I don’t really want everyone on eBird to know where my house is. What should I do?
- I do not know all the birds yet, but would really like to help. What should I do?
- I’m an independently wealthy philanthropist and I really like your idea. I know nothing about birds, but I am so impressed with your vision that I want to bury you with my love and support. How can I do this?
- I like the idea of contributing observations from my yard, but that gets boring after a while. Can I share data from other places?
- If I go off the beaten path, or even to my local hotspot, what protocol is best to use?
- What’s the end game here? What you will do with all the data?
It’s easier than you ever imagined! The best bird data are those which are: 1) gathered the same way every time; 2) gathered by the same observer every time; 3) gathered from the same place over and over; and 4) for our project, gathered from places no one else has counted. Your own backyard is probably not teeming with birders! It’s your personal space, so you have the best access and you know its avian inhabitants better than anyone else. That means your data from your backyard are your best contribution. And, it gets even better! The most valuable data are those that are gathered from a stationary position for a defined amount of time. If you stand at your usual spot (mine is perched on my back porch while drinking a nice coffee) for 5 minutes, once per week, throughout the year, and count all the birds you can see and hear, then enter those data into your eBird account, you’ve done a great job! It’s so simple! Same 5-minute count every time, same observer each time, same place over and over, and in your own yard. What an easy way to contribute to science!
We use eBird. It’s super easy to use, and it is getting easier all the time. Very few of us love entering data, even if it involves birds. We don’t love it either! But we have learned ways to make this easy. When you enter your observations into eBird, they become available to us. All we have to do is request data from eBird. Because much of the funding for eBird came from federal funds, such as the National Science Foundation, they share the data deposited there. So whenever you input your observations, we can get them when we are ready to analyze them. Super easy!
Absolutely! In fact, data from apartments in urbanized areas, suburban zones, and other less birdy locations are often very under-represented in survey data. We all like to go to the local refuge, but you know what, we are not short on data from those birding hotspots! We lack data from places off the beaten path. And if you consistently conduct counts, even in less birdy places, over a year, you will probably be really surprised at how many different kinds of birds appear.
We understand. Some people have different levels of concern about privacy than others. We recommend you do a couple of things. First, when submitting sightings in eBird, do not name the location “my home” or something similar. Just call it a name that makes sense for its general location, such as the name of the street or intersection. If you are very concerned, you can click on a location that is a couple houses away from yours, if you live in a densely populated area. But we ask you to be very careful with this approach. The value of the data depends on linking observations of bird species and numbers to the habitats where the birds were counted. If you move your location too far away from your house, you may change the information about the habitat too much.
That’s totally OK. First, we hope you will take advantage of the tutorials we will have on this page and on Cornell’s AllAboutBirds pages to learn more about bird identification. We hope you can join us for a workshop and some birding events around the state, too. But even if you only know a few birds well, your observations are still valuable for those birds that you do know. We have analysis techniques that can help us know when observers were finding most of the birds in their area or just some of them.
I’m an independently wealthy philanthropist and I really like your idea. I know nothing about birds, but I am so impressed with your vision that I want to bury you with my love and support. How can I do this?
First, we love you. Just want to publicly state this so there is no misunderstanding. Next, the easiest way to support the project is to send a donation, which is tax-deductible, to:
The OSU Foundation
850 SW 35th Street
Corvallis, Oregon 97330
In the subject line of the check write “F&W Unrestricted – Oregon 2020 Project”. The OSU Foundation is the fund raising arm of the university and can answer any questions you may have. Thanks in advance! Again, we love you. OK, enough of the gushy stuff.
Oh yeah! “Anywhere and anytime” is our motto. Well, one of our mottoes… We have particular recommendations on protocols to use, but we want to make it easy. You can contribute data from anywhere, even your local refuge where everyone and their weird Uncle Louie goes, but we sure would love it if you were to go places where you normally do not go. If we are going to leave a great legacy of data for future generations, we want to give them great coverage of the whole state, not just our favorite birding hotspots. We all will go to our favorite spots anyway, so over time we will have tons of data from those sites. But off the beaten path is a great place to go. Take a look at our app (Oregon 2020 Birds, available for both iPhone and Android) to find our Hotspot Squares. Alternatively, you can use your web browser to explore the squares on the Oregon Explorer site. We hope you will conduct some surveys in the Hotspot Squares whenever you find yourself near one.
We strongly recommend using stationary counts. When you stand at one place and count all birds you can see and hear, you can get a GPS location for that point (either with a GPS unit or by going through the mapping your location process when you enter data into eBird; if you use the eBird app for smartphones, the app will automagically do this for you), which means someone in the future can return to that exact location and repeat your survey. If you also do a good job of keeping track of how long you were at that spot, then someone can also exactly repeat the effort you invested. Stationary counts are awesome. There are times when Traveling counts make sense, such as canoeing a river or walking a long trail. But we have found that many people are not so great at figuring how far they traveled, so stationary counts remove this challenge. As far as how much time you should invest in each stationary count, you should stay as long as you like and as long as you keep finding birds you want to count and identify. But we recommend a minimum of 5 minutes.
First, a big part of this project involves the journey. We want to help current citizens learn how their birding activities improve science and to appreciate the value of being careful observers of the world around us. What we see today is of great interest to future citizens. Second, in addition to enjoying the journey to 2020 and beyond, we foresee publications that summarize the massive amount of information we are collectively going to generate. We envision these as being web-based with lots of maps of species and their numbers across the state, as well as information about how birds are associated with habitat maps and what those distributions might look like in the future as land use and climate changes our state. So in summary: better quality citizen science, summary publications, and easily accessible maps and reports.
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