Pioneering eBird Citizen-Science Program Tops 100 Million Observations

Newswise — One small bird, one small boy and one giant leap for citizen science.

Late last week, a 12-year-old boy near Vancouver, British Columbia, sighted an American Robin and submitted the 100 millionth observation to eBird. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon, eBird is an online application for birders to record their checklists, and for scientists to collect a massive database of citizen-science observations about bird abundance and distribution. Over the past 10 years, more than 93,000 observers have submitted checklists to eBird with observations on about 9,500 of the planet’s 10,157 species of birds. Altogether, eBird’s 100 million observations equal 860 years of fieldwork.

Two researchers intimately tied to eBird explain what 100 million observations means for the citizen science movement and for ornithology.

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Chris Wood is the eBird and Neotropical Birds project leader at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He says:

“I think we will look back at this as a defining moment in field ornithology and citizen science.

“Tens of thousands of observers have shown us that they have a desire to share their observations to see how their individual sightings fit into the bigger picture. With 100 million observations, we are just beginning to piece together this puzzle and are discovering some amazing new patterns about the natural world. We expect the pace of discovery to increase as we engage even more observers and share the data with more researchers around the world.” . . . . .

John Fitzpatrick, the executive director of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says:

“This is a true milestone in the history of field ornithology and citizen science. The power of so much data is only just beginning to be recognized around the world.

“I look forward to the time when even 100,000,000 observations seem like a quaint number. With eBird taking off so spectacularly now, that day is not so far off, and we are starting to discover some amazing new patterns about the natural world thanks to all these thousands of volunteer observers."

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Some additional facts about the eBird program:• Total observations (as of Aug. 13): 100,333,837• Total number of eBird checklists: 7,187,076• Total number of species: 9,479• Total number of observers: 93,040• Total number of locations sampled: 1,005,056• Total hours of effort-based eBirding: 7,537,608 (860 years)• Remaining countries with no eBird data: Bouvet Island, Equatorial Guinea, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, Heard Island and McDonald Islands.• Most reported species: Mourning Dove (almost 2 million observations)• More than 200 bird species only have been spotted once and reported to eBird, including the Burmese Yuhina, the Cook Islands Reed-Warbler and the Guadalcanal Honeyeater.

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