Cornell Lab’s eBird team recently introduced a new class of maps that reveal where North American birds are, how they are faring, and at a finer scale than has ever been produced before.
It’s called “eBird Status and Trends,” and it uses data and models to estimate bird abundance every 1.7 miles and every week of the year across most of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. Applying sightings from more than 12 million eBird checklists and satellite data from NASA, the project covers 107 North American species, with more to be added later this year.
The eBird team summarized the change succinctly: “Suddenly, a range map doesn’t have to be based on a single expert’s knowledge, drawn with opaque ink, and printed on a map the size of a postage stamp. It can be alive: driven by millions of data points, intricately detailed down to the county level and below, and moving to show the way birds move with the seasons.”
The results go far beyond standard range maps. The new maps show abundance (not just occurrence), giving birders, conservationists, and scientists the ability to distinguish a species’ strongholds from areas where it may be scarce. The maps are created with models that include environmental data, which means eBird Status and Trends can reveal which habitats are best for finding a given species from week to week throughout the year.
All the maps, graphs, animations, and other data are free for anyone to view, and with a free eBird account you can even download them.
The free availability reflects eBird’s guiding principles: collecting data that the birdwatching public voluntarily provides and transforming it into products that benefit conservationists and scientists. This way, users can enjoy their pastime while actually making the world a better place for birds.
Maps for 107 different species are now available.