Birding Basics: Using eBird to Find Species

Birding basics can come in a variety of forms and the use of eBird technology is a great basic to understand and make use of.

Rob Ripma

Over the weekend, I was with a beginning birder that really wanted to see a Pileated Woodpecker. We weren’t out birding at the time, and there was no way for me to take her out to show her the bird since she was heading home to Michigan before we would have that opportunity. I’m wasn’t familiar with the birding locations in her area, but I really wanted to help her know where to go close to home so that she could find this awesome woodpecker. That’s when I turned to eBird in order to make some recommendations to her.

eBird is a citizen scientist based project run by The Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University. Birders of all skill levels can enter their sightings into the system and can access the data to see what others are reporting. In addition to birders using the information to find birds they would like to see, researchers can use the data to study bird populations.

Here is a simple visual guide to finding this data on eBird.

From the eBird Homepage, www.ebird.org, select the Explore Data tab.

From the eBird Homepage, www.ebird.org, select the Explore Data tab.

From the Explore Data page, select the Range and Point Maps link.

From the Explore Data page, select the Range and Point Maps link.

Type in the species that you would like to search for in the Species box at the top of the page.

Type in the species that you would like to search for in the Species box at the top of the page.

Once you search for your species a map such as this one will appear. the darker the purple, the more reports, Begin to zoom in on your target area from here. I also like to select the Show Points Sooner option on the right toolbar.

Once you search for your species a map such as this one will appear. The darker the purple, the more reports. Begin to zoom in on your target area from here. 

Once you zoom in, blue and red points will appear. The red points are reports within the last 30 days and the blue points are all other historical reports. You can click on the points to see a list of when the species was reported as well as the name of the location.

Once you zoom in, blue and red points will appear. The red points are reports within the last 30 days and the blue points are all other historical reports. You can click on the points to see a list of when the species was reported as well as the name of the location.

  1. john schomisch says

    I saw a couple that seem to be around nesting every year. I have not seen them in a couple weeks though? I am in Houghton Lake Michigan. I wonder if possibly they get done nesting and move on? as many baby birds I see have been born already and have flown the nest? In fact one left its nest and landed right at my feet and my cat was on my lap today. My cat is mad at me black birds seem to be pretty curious right out of the nest?lol

  2. says

    I really like Ebird! I Registered for the Great Backyard Bird Count this year, and I have seen 72 Species since! I also saw a Pileated Woodpecker at the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Fl last year.

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