[Lisa Kopp] Welcome to today’s webinar from the Lab of Ornithology. My name is Lisa Kopp, and I’m on the Visitor Center team at the Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York, and I’ll be facilitating today’s conversation with John Garrett and Jenna Curtis from Team eBird. Hi to you both. Thanks for joining.
We’re going to start off with some important announcements and first off, I want to read a statement acknowledging the indigenous people as the original inhabitants of the Ithaca area.
Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogoho:no, the Cayuga Nation. The Gayogoho:no are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York state and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogoho:no dispossession and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogoho:no people, past and present to these lands and waters.
And for those of you who aren’t familiar with who we are at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we’re home to a community of researchers and supporters from around the world who appreciate birds and the integral roles that they play in our ecosystems. Our mission overall is to advance leading edge research, education, and citizen science to help solve pressing conservation challenges of which we know that there are many right now.
I’m really excited to talk with John and Jenna today, but we just want to make sure everyone’s tech is working. It’s been a long time doing these Zoom programs. So hopefully you figured out a good setup for you.
We have closed captioning available through Zoom. So if you need that, you should be able to choose the closed captioning option by hitting the ‘More’ button on the desktop version of Zoom that’s at the bottom of the screen. We are also going to be having– today’s conversation is going to be interactive. So we hope that you’ll participate by asking your questions.
Use the Q&A feature on Zoom also down at the bottom of your screen on the desktop version. Some of your questions, we will be answering in the Q&A. We have some wonderful team members behind the scenes. Thank you Sarah, Marie, and Chelsea, who will be answering some of your questions that way but we’ll also be having John and Jenna answer a lot of them live.
If you are in Zoom and you like to use the chat feature, please make sure that you’re only using that for tech issues. That’s where we’ll be keeping an eye on things if you’re having sound issues or your videos cutting out. There are lots of different versions of Zoom and oftentimes if you’re having an issue that we are not seeing as an overwhelming problem with the whole audience, it’s usually a Zoom issue on your end. So try restarting Zoom, that’s always our number one recommendation. And in the future, We always recommend having the desktop version of Zoom downloaded and ready to go for these.
So just reminder. Q&A for questions related to the content, chat for any tech issues. And then we’re also live streaming on Facebook. So we are on the Cornell Lab’s page and we’re on the eBird page, and you can add your questions to the comment section there. We don’t want to leave out our Facebook viewers from the conversation, but be sure that if you’re looking– if you’re seeing any links in the Facebook comment section that they are only coming from the Cornell Lab, we’ve had some spam and bot issues. So don’t click on any links unless they’re directly from us.
So I think we are going to get started. So thank you John and Jenna again for joining us today and today is going to be a little bit different if you’ve joined in to any of our past webinars. We often start things off with sort of a conversation where we’re going back and forth, but we thought that because this is a brand new feature, it might be a little bit better for us to start out with a demonstration. So that’s how we’re going to kick things off and we hope that will give you all a chance to get a sense for this new tool and think through your questions as we have time in the rest of the hour. So I am going to turn things over to Jenna so she can start her demo.
[Jenna Curtis] Great. Thank you so much for joining us everyone today. We are so excited to start this webinar with a demonstration of eBird Trip Reports which is a brand new exciting tool for sharing birding stories and so I’m going to get started by sharing my screen.
eBird Trip Reports is a free tool that’s available on the eBird website. So head over eBird.org and tap my eBird to start creating your own reports. eBird Trip Reports bring together your eBird checklists into fun and useful summaries of your birding with some really cool new features that make sharing your birding stories easier than ever.
So you can make eBird Trip Reports for future trips and past birding trips as well. Here we’re looking at a birding trip that our birds of the world leader Brian Sullivan, took to Antarctica in 2009. And the first thing you may notice is a new interactive map of your eBird checklist locations so that you can explore exactly where you stopped along your trip and see which checklists were submitted there.
By submitting separate checklists for each location that you visit or stop, this dab really becomes a cool visualization of your travels. There’s a narrative field where members of the trip can share stories and add comments and even embed photos. There are summary stats for the entire group showing the number of species, checklists, photos, and audio recordings that you submitted during the entire trip. But there are also personalized views for each trip member as well so you can see the birding activity of each member as well as the group as a whole.
One frequently requested feature are these life first stats showing which species you’ve reported or photographed or recorded for the first time ever during that trip. So we can see here that Michael saw 82 new species of birds that he’d never seen before and photographed 14 birds that he’d never photographed before. Two other features about Trip Reports that I love are these filtered media views which are a great way to just look at the photos or audio recordings of the trip, either for an individual person or all of the trip participants. And you can just take a trip down memory lane or feel like you’re experiencing someone else’s trip just by going through all the amazing photos they’ve taken.
I love doing this for my own trips even though I took those photos. Just going back and looking at them again, it brings back all those memories. Another thing that I love are the total counts across the whole trip.
eBird Trip Reports sum year counts across all of the checklists that you’ve submitted during the trip period giving you the grand total of not just the species that you observed, but also the number of individuals counted and it really gives you a perspective of just how many birds you saw during a trip are reported when you see those numbers at the end. 160,000 penguins or 15,000 albatross that really puts it into perspective in a way that you’ve never really had a chance to do before. I think that makes counting birds worth it just to see which was your most abundant species at the end of the trip.
Two other things about eBird Trip Reports that I want to just quickly mention here. First, eBird Trip Reports is a web based tool. It works on both a computer and a mobile device. So you can make Trip Reports on your phone but you do need to head over to eBird.org to do that. It’s not currently available on a mobile app.
And if a Trip Reports do include the birds that you identify and save in Merlin, Merlin bird ID in addition to eBird checklists. We’re going to talk about Merlin a little bit more in a bit, but this could be an interesting way to summarize all the birds identified using that Merlin tool during a trip. There are some additional really cool sharing aspects about eBird Trip Reports that we’ll get into a little later in the webinar. But hopefully this gives everyone an idea of just how powerful and exciting eBird Trip Reports are for storytelling. There are just so many possibilities.
[Lisa Kopp] –for showing us. Don’t worry everybody, that was just like a preview, the trailers at the beginning of a movie and now we’re going to take things back and really break down the ways in which you can use Trip Reports and some of eBirds other tools to plan and to- prepare and plan and bird in this really amazing way so that you do have those visuals and those maps that show your show your trips in a really brand new– in a brand new way. So let’s go back to the beginning.
You’re at home, you’re planning your trip. I’m sure a lot of us are dreaming of doing this right now. And you’re trying to figure out what you need to be– what you want to see or how you should go about planning. What are the tools that are best for that when you’re at home preparing? John, could you walk us through some of that.
[John Garrett] Yeah. Thanks Lisa, I’d be happy to. Let me get screen share set up here. And so this will be familiar to many of you who use it already, but I find these tools in the eBird explore page. Really helpful and really powerful for planning a lot of my trips.
So let’s say I want to go to Oaxaca I just type in Oaxaca there on the eBird export page and suddenly I can see all of the recent sightings in Oaxaca and scroll down as far as I want. I can see recent photos and here on the left bar, I can also see links to things like bar charts and media and top 100 and this will really help me decide where I want to go.
If Oaxaca or wherever I’m going is somewhere I don’t really know the birds that well or even if I do, I just want to see nice photos and understand their bar charts, I can go to this illustrated checklist and this goes– this is a nice combination of bar charts and photos and audio. I can select to just the ones with photos if I want for that region and I find this is a really great planning tool for getting to see lots of photos of the birds I’m looking at and also understand their abundance throughout the seasons.
Another really helpful tool. I can go back to the overview here. I like to use the hotspot map. So if I click on ‘Map’ here, this shows every hot spot in the region shaded by the number of species there and I can Zoom in and let’s see– I want to go around the city of Oaxaca and I can click around and see all of the different hotspots within the city and for any one of these, I can click ‘View more details’ and it will take me to that same list but for that specific hot spot. And I can see recent sightings that can again see an illustrated checklist just for this hot spot. Here I can see recent checklists just for this location and get a really good sense of what exactly birds that I want to be looking for there.
Another– what I think is one of the most useful tools for planning a trip is targets. So I can either click on ‘Targets species’ here or from the Explore page, I can go here to target species and enter any region that I want. So let’s say I want to go to Uganda and I can see all of the species found in Uganda that will be new for my life list. I can change this to world life list or year list or anything that I want. And this is sorted by the abundance or frequency of these species from checklists so it will show the most common birds first.
If I want to go somewhere that I’m more familiar with like say New York, this is a much more limited list because it excludes the birds that I’ve already seen here. So I can really help me know what birds to focus on when I go to New York and then from here, I can click on a ‘Map’ and it will take me to a species map for this species and show me anywhere I might want to go to look for the species. So none really around here at this time of year. Yeah, and those are the main features that I like to use for planning a trip, Trip Reports just takes it to the next level.
[Lisa Kopp] And it’s always really helpful to get a refresher of those tools and eBird is just so powerful. There’s so many options so that I know that there are people who have sort of their favorite. You just showed us some really great examples of some of the top picks and I know some people really love bar charts or use certain aspects of eBird religiously and I should mention that if you are tuning in and you’re new to eBird, that probably felt a little bit overwhelming. eBird has incredible resources on their website that give all information on using each of those tools in great detail. And we’ve actually hosted a few other webinars that provide additional information on how to use some of those specific features. So we can put some links in the chat so that anyone who’s wanting to understand more about those things can do that on their own.
So you’ve planned, you’ve used all of those incredible resources that eBird has available and now you’re going to be out birding in the field. So what tools are best for when you’re out and about? Jenna, do you want to kick us off with that?
[Jenna Curtis] Yeah, thanks. I think I speak for both John and I when I say that these days we take most of our birding tools on our smartphones and that we’re huge fans of both eBird and Merlin Bird ID. I mentioned Merlin earlier, it’s another free mobile app from the Cornell Lab that provides customized identification resources for your specific location no matter where you are in the world.
It’s a great way for birders of any skill level even experienced birders to explore the birds they’re likely to encounter on a trip no matter where they’re going. Merlin is really great for discovering which birds are around you. eBird on the other hand, is great for seeing nearby reports from other eBirders even on the go. It’s also really useful for keeping birding lists when you’re familiar with all the birds around you or more or less used to keeping those complete birding lists.
They both go hand in hand and John and I can show how these two apps work together a little bit here. If you’re a beginning birder, Merlin is likely all you need to start exploring birds on the go. I’ll show you some of those resources here but first, John, do you want to talk a little bit about how you use eBird mobile on trips?
[John Garrett] Yeah, I’d love to. Let me screen share here. So here’s the eBird mobile app and this is the best way to enter data to eBird.org, which will allow you to see all of the observations– which is how people can see observations like we just went through and the species maps.
So the first thing to do with eBird mobile is to download the pack for the proper region. So you just go to more and then tap on packs and this will allow you to download a species list for any region in the world. So you can see I have New York installed here and it knows where I am, but say I’m planning a trip somewhere else, I can go to all and select any park anywhere in the world. And this will help me select– this will eBird know what species to have in an offline mode or at any time that you can use to create eBird checklists. That’s the first step and once you’re done with the pack when you’re on this view, you can just swipe and remove it if you want to save space on your phone but these are generally on the order of kilobytes. So they don’t take up very much space at all.
Now, another– that’s for helping submit checklists, but it’s good to do that before you go traveling somewhere. Say I want to use eBird mobile to explore a region. I go to eBird mobile Explorer and this is a fairly new feature. And here you can see nearby hotspots, you can tap on them, and see how many species have been found there all time, how many there are likely for this time of year, and how many have been seen recently.
You can also change any of these variables by going to edit and you can change the radius around you. You can change the time period. And you can change the radius itself to anywhere, either by typing in a city or a zip code or picking it from a map. So let’s say I want to see what birds have been found in Austin, Texas. Now I can see the same hot spot view for us in Texas on my mobile device.
Another thing, when you’re submitting checklists what I find really helpful. So this is the submission page and you start a checklist this way and here’s a list of birds near me in Ithaca. What I like to look at is these colored dots which are based on eBird data. You can see these orange semicircles and in some cases red dots. And when there’s no dot that means it’s a common bird.
And I find this really helpful for knowing what birds are common around where I am when I want to add more notes about something that’s unusual and just while entering checklists I find these dots really, really helpful. And yeah, those are the main ways I like to use, eBird mobile model and traveling.
[Jenna Curtis] Great, thanks John. I want to step in here and show some of the features of Merlin and how it links to some of the exploring and trip planning features that John just showed there. So I’m going to start up my screen sharing here and now you should see this is the Merlin app. And so the first thing that I like to do when I’m traveling with the Merlin app is to make sure that I have the right Merlin pack installed on my phone so that I have all the photos, sounds, maps, and descriptions that Merlin provides handy on my device. And that means that I can use those resources even when I don’t have reception.
Merlin and eBird packs are different. eBird packs are specific to reporting checklists and seeing a list of birds that you can create lists from. So even if you already have the eBird pack, you’ll still want to get a pack in Merlin as well. So that’s here under bird packs.
Say here I’m going to plan a trip to Ecuador someday in the future. I would love to go. I want to make sure that I have the Ecuador pack installed on my phone while I have Wi-Fi so that I can access the birds of Ecuador even when I don’t have reception out in the field and if I don’t have the space for the full pack, I can look for specific regional packs for those species as well if I’m not visiting the entire country. Once I have that pack installed on my device, what I like to do is tap Explore birds and filter my view for either likely birds for an area or bird packs. So I could select the Ecuador pack, and now I can explore the birds that I’m expecting to find in all of Ecuador.
Chances are I don’t– yeah, yes.
[Lisa Kopp] Main Merlin, there we go. Now it’s moving. It was–
[Jenna Curtis] Sorry about that.
[Lisa Kopp] It looks like it was lagging for a minute, but now we’re good, thanks.
[Jenna Curtis] Modern technology.
[Lisa Kopp] Yeah.
[Jenna Curtis] Did you have a chance to see the packs?
[Lisa Kopp] No, they didn’t show up.
[Jenna Curtis] Bird packs are here. you can see I’ve got the Ecuador pack installed and that includes all the photos species descriptions and ID resources for the birds of Ecuador and then I’ll go over here to explore and I’ve got my view filtered by Ecuador. You can see that at the top. Sometimes if you’re having trouble finding a bird in Merlin, it’s always good to check and see whether you’ve refined your list for specific species, which birds you’re limiting your view to.
The funnest way is to do likely birds and then select a location so say I’m flying into Quito. I can filter the birds that I’m likely to see in Quito when I land in Ecuador and so I’ve got it sorted taxonomic here. I’ll change it to most likely and that way I can see which birds are going to be most common.
These bar charts are so helpful to see how frequently birds are being reported by other birders. They’re pulling in eBird data. So when you submit eBird checklists, you’re helping Merlin understand better likely birds in an area and I love exploring those photos. So that’s how I like to use Merlin to get a good idea of when I’m traveling somewhere, what birds I can anticipate seeing and look forward to.
Of course, Merlin has some amazing bird ID resources. I think we’ve provided a lot of details on that online and other places that we can link to. So if you want to learn more about the bird ID side of Merlin, feel free to check those out as well. This is such a great resource.
Oh, one more thing to mention is that Merlin and eBird are linked. So if you do have both of these apps installed on your phone, you can identify a bird and Merlin and then send it to a running eBird checklist and add it to your list.
[Lisa Kopp] We were getting a couple of questions about all of the different dots and what they each represent like a red dot versus a half orange dot versus a– or even the blue check that are both in eBird and in Merlin. Could you give a little bit of–
[Jenna Curtis] Yeah, that’s a great question. These are very similar to the dots that John had mentioned earlier. The blue with the check means a bird that I’ve already reported to my life list. So Merlin is keeping track of all the birds that I’ve ever reported and it’s marking which ones I’ve already seen.
If I want to, I can choose here on the side to hide the birds on my life list. And so now I just see a bird– a list of the birds that I’ve never seen before. These are things I can look forward to and hopefully tick off when I travel.
The other dots that you see are red dots and orange dots. The easiest if I sort back by family, some of those will show up. And those indicate the frequency of a bird occurrence in an area based on reports of other birders.
So red means a bird is very infrequently reported, it’s quite rare for that location and that time of year. An orange means something is less common, it’s not a common bird but it’s a little more frequently reported than a rare bird. Those bar charts are a good indication to the thinner the bar, the less frequently something is reported, the more likely it is to be a red.
When you’re traveling, those dots can be an excellent indicator of whether something is a unique and unusual sighting that you might want to pay a little more attention to. If you’re in Merlin and you’re seeing a bird with a red dot or if you’re reporting a bird with a red dot to your eBird list, that’s a mark of an unusual thing. That’s a rare or an uncommonly reported bird for that location. Take a moment to appreciate the sighting, get a little better look, maybe take a photo or some notes to appreciate that moment a little more. That’s what I think about those dots as a way of just indicating whether something is a unique moment. That makes sense.
[Lisa Kopp] And you know it’s so helpful to see these two tools demonstrated side by side because you can really get a good understanding for how you can use either or both at the same time. How– what does it take to get and how– I know you mentioned that they’re linked. How would someone go about downloading or having these? And I know that they need an account. Can give a little background information on just the logistics of it. I think that that’s for John.
[John Garrett] Yeah, so you just need one Cornell Lab account for all of these features in both Merlin and eBird and also other Cornell Lab resources like Bird Academy and birds of the world. One account with the Cornell Lab can cover all of these things. And for eBird and Merlin, these are completely free. So you can use these anywhere in the world completely for free and you don’t need to create a new account each time.
[Lisa Kopp] It’s a really amazing tool and yes, I think it’s really important to highlight that. We often get people joining in on these webinars who have taken Bird Academy courses. It’s all a single sign on for your Cornell Lab accounts with the exception of registering for a webinar. That is through Zoom so that is a different account or that’s not necessarily the same credentials that you’ve used.
So let’s get back into some of those really unique aspects of Trip Reports. So I know I did some homework, was a new feature I needed to make sure I was ready to actually host this and so I’m curious about sharing. Obviously, people like to travel with friends and family. So how would you be able to share some of those lists in a Trip Report with others that you were traveling with?
[Jenna Curtis] I’ll take this one if that’s all right. I’m going to return to my screen share. All right, so we should be seeing my eBird Trip Report here. This is a trip to Massachusetts that John and I took with a couple of friends way back in early 2020 and I want to show some of the sharing features here.
Unlike the previous trip that we showed, on this one I’m the trip owner remaining. I created this trip so I have a few other options to share it with folks. First of all, you’ll notice there’s a share button. So if I want to put this publicly on social media or share it with my friends, I can just quickly in a single click ‘Post it somewhere’ or get a link that I could email to someone or text someone.
To share with people who are on the trip, I’ll go to here to edit and then manage people and I can select people to add to the Trip Report either from my eBird contacts or I can enter their username or email. Make sure when you enter someone to click that invite by button when you’re done to make sure that they get the invitation. Below that, you can actually see people I’ve already sent invitations to and those that have accepted my invitation, they’re now part of the Trip Report and their eBird checklist that they’ve submitted and shared can also be included in this group summary.
I can choose the roles that these people take. As an editor, they’ll be able to edit the narrative and choose to manage some of the aspects of the trip such as the date or the– which checklists are included. I could also choose to make them a commenter which means that they can add comments and manage their own personal contributions to the Trip Report but they don’t have the ability to manage the overall dates of the trip or the narrative and those overarching functions.
One other really cool feature that I want to point out about trip sharing is that once you’ve added people to your Trip Report, people who were with you on that trip who shared checklists with you or you want to share checklists with them, you can– once they’ve become a member of the trip, click ‘Share all checklists too.’ And what this is a bulk checklist sharing tool. It gives you the option to in one single click Share all of the checklists that are part of your view of the Trip Report. So any eBird checklist that you’ve chosen to include in this Trip Report will be shared with other members of the trip.
So I can copy to excrete it into their own personal eBirding activity and accounts. We have some more resources about sharing checklists online. So if you’re new to eBird and aren’t familiar with what sharing a checklist entails or what it means to have a checklist shared with you or vise versa, we can pop some resources in the chat for to help you understand that more. But for folks who are a little more familiar with eBird, this is now a really easy way to share a bunch of checklists with people who are with you on those parts of the trip at once without having to go one by one through every list.
[Lisa Kopp] And that these everyone has to have an eBird account to be able to be shared with. You can’t just input someone’s generic email address or something like that.
[Jenna Curtis] But if you’re– like John said, if you have a Merlin account if you’ve created an account for Bird Academy then you do already have an eBird account and you don’t need to create a new one as long as you’ve already got an email in the system through any Cornell Lab project.
[Lisa Kopp] Great, very helpful. So another cool detail about Trip Reports might be relevant for somebody who was just a part of a trip. So a group of people were taking a three week trip one of those weeks I happen to be able to join but I don’t necessarily want or need to see all the checklists from those other two weeks that I wasn’t able to be a part of. John is there a way to differentiate between the checklists that I would want to have versus those that I wouldn’t?
[John Garrett] Yeah, there is. So let me screen share again. So there’s a couple of things to know about this. The first is that in this view, this is the group view, which shows– here’s a trip I took last spring with some other colleagues and to Texas we worked remotely for a little while.
This shows the group view. Here it’s this group all people and I can view as Dennis showed earlier just the version of the trip for any individual person. So I can look at Ian Davies here for example or I can view the trip for just myself if I want. And the way we can– one of the ways we can edit these is by going again to edit and then manage checklists and this will bring up all of the checklists that you currently have in the Trip Report. So you can– if you feel that any of these checklists do not belong on this trip and are really a part of something else, you can select these.
Another way to do this is by setting personal dates. So if there was a trip that a bunch of people were on and you were only on it for part of the trip and you don’t want your checklist from when you were at home before you joined on the trip showing up, you can go to personal dates here on the same managed checklist page and enter a Start and end date for when you were actually there. So for me that was April 4th to 30th April. And then just set “save and view Trip Report” and you can see the Trip Report in total for the group is 1 to 30 April. But when I go to just myself it’s just 4 to 30 April.
[Lisa Kopp] So it looked like that was a long trip like almost a month. Is there a limit to Trip Reports? Where do you go– what do you consider a Trip Report versus just like life?
[John Garrett] And yeah, so a Trip Report is set to 31 days and this is partly because– well, there are many ways that one can have a trip and you can do a trip that’s just one day and it’s the Trip Reports is a super handy way to summarize all of your checklists for any range of days up to 31. Once it gets beyond 31, it can allow for some trips that have a lot of photos and take a long time to load and complications arise from that. But for now, 31 days covers most of the ways we think trips can be covered.
[Lisa Kopp] That makes a lot of sense and one more question for you John. You mention a trip can look a lot of different ways, is this– can be used for a sit spot or a single location even though you may not be traveling to Antarctica or something like that?
[John Garrett] Absolutely. I like to for example, when I’m birding my yard, I’ll often have multiple checklists throughout the day. But I still want to see how many individuals I saw for the whole day and Trip Reports are a great way to do that or sometimes at a Sea Watch, it can also be really fun to– or a Hawk Watch or something like that. When you’re sitting in one spot, you want to break– it helps eBird a lot to break your checklists up and down to the hour.
So say, there’s a lot of migrant birds passing through and then hour by hour, it can be very different what you’re seeing. But with a Trip Report, you can summarize all of those checklists into one handy view that shows all of them.
[Lisa Kopp] That’s great and do you– is there a way to have social peace? Can you make comments to your memories? I think Jenna touched on it but I can imagine that if you’re traveling with friends, it’d be nice to be able to see those alongside the photos and the checklists that you’ve got. I think John that one’s that’s Jenna I think that
[John Garrett] For everyone. I’ll take it since I’m speaking. Yeah, so the social component absolutely. You can add a narrative and describe what happened on this trip, you can also add comments. Looks like I’ve already added a comment to this one but anyone who’s on the trip can add a comment here. And you can also share the trip in to social media by clicking on the Share button with the social media icon, which is different from adding people to the trip. So if you click on that, you can share on Facebook, share on Twitter, send it as an email and they’ll receive this URL.
[Lisa Kopp] Very cool. So–
[Jenna Curtis] Hey John, while you’re at it, I’m seeing a lot of comments on how to get these tricks started. People are excited to start making these trips for themselves. Well you’ve got your screen sharing going, will you just show how to make a Trip Report?
[John Garrett] Absolutely, I’d love to. So you just go to my eBird and from my eBird, here on the left side, it says Trip Reports. Click on ‘Trip Reports’ and looks like someone’s invited me to one Trip Report already, which those will appear here when someone’s invited you to one. And to create a new one, just click on ‘Create Trip Report.’ So a hypothetical example.
Let’s just do one for the month of December. I like doing this. This isn’t really a trip, but I like to just look at my monthly summaries using Trip Reports. And note that when you’re making a Trip Report, you can go into the future. So once you make a– here when you’re selecting a date, I’m going to go to 31 December.
Any future checklist I submit for this month are going to appear in this Trip Report. There are three options here for visibility. One is limited where only you can see the Trip Report or people that you add to it. Link only where if you send the URL for the report to anyone, they can see it but no one else can. Or public and these are Google index able so that if you search for say, the report name or some people on it and eBird, it might come up in those results. And in the future that might be additional functionality on eBird that will highlight these.
So I’m going to make this one link only since this is a demo trip. I already have one for this exact time period. I’ll do one for just the first half of December and here I can see all of my checklists for that time period. And I can select or select which ones I want to be on there. Click ‘Save’ and view Trip Report and here’s where I’ve been birding so far this month.
I can filter it to just the checklist, just the photos, just the audio if I want to.
[Lisa Kopp] Questions coming up about retroactively creating a Trip Report which it looks like you just demonstrated. You chose checklists from a period of time, some of which has passed already and you click the ones that you wanted to add and you selected the ones that you didn’t want to add. Am I getting that right John and Jenna?
[John Garrett] Yes, that’s absolutely correct. You can create a Trip Report for any third– up to 31 day span at any point in time in the past or the present or the future.
[Lisa Kopp] Great, wonderful. So we’re already starting to answer some of the questions in the Q&A of course, we also got some really great pre submitted questions. So we want to dig into some of those and one of the top questions that we got pre submitted and I’m seeing come up in the chat is how can this be used for Christmas Bird Counts since these are right around the corner?
[Jenna Curtis] I’ll take that one. We’re so excited to see so many people interested in using eBird reports for Christmas Bird Counts. We’ve been working closely with Christmas Bird Count compilers to make sure that this is a useful tool for Christmas Bird Counts. If you’re not familiar with what a Christmas Bird Count or a CBC is, it’s a collaborative winter bird count organized by the National Audubon Society. These counts take place in December and January. In 15 mile diameter circles, they’re a collaborative community style winter bird count.
We can provide a link in the chat with more information about Christmas Bird Count and birding during your Christmas Bird Count. The basic idea is and I think I’ll start sharing my screen here. The basic idea is that instead of keeping a single tally of birds throughout the day as you might during a traditional Christmas Bird Count, break your Christmas Bird Count up into distinct lists, ideally one list per stop or one list per new location that visit.
You’ll also be keeping tallies of birds that you count while you’re driving in the car between sites. You can submit those as incidental lists in eBird while you’re driving. So again, the big idea there is that you’ve got an eBird list for each stop, some eBird lists that are incidental for your driving and then at the end of your day, you create a single eBird Trip Report that summarizes all those activities, which is an example that I’ve got on the screen here. Is at 2020 Christmas Bird Count that someone has made an eBird Trip Report for.
If you make this public or link shareable, you can then send the link to this Trip Report to your CBC compiler putting the information on the effort in the narrative so that your compiler has basically all the information they need from you in one single place and you don’t have to manually sum up all of your accounts. You want to make sure that you include the effort in the format that the Christmas Bird Count has requested, a double checking all of your different effort hours and distances. Another thing to note, which is a common question that we see is how to handle duplicate counts because at eBird, we want you to count all the birds that you see during that list, including the ones that individuals that you may have already counted on a previous list.
So say you see a flock of five geese that you already reported on a previous checklist. At eBird, we’d like you to report those five geese again but for Christmas Bird Counts, they request a list of unique individuals with no individual counted twice. But the narrative is a really great place to tell your compiler which numbers should be adjusted to account for individuals that may have been counted on two or more lists. And then again, you’ve got the hybrid reports count totals there already summing up your counts for you. So you don’t need to worry about that and your compilers got all that information.
And again, just a reminder. A good rule of thumb for keeping lists throughout your Christmas Bird Count is to start a new list every time you change from foot to car or bike and vise versa. And then your driving lists are typically considered incidental lists. If you’re not familiar with eBird protocols, we can provide some links there. But they’re considered incidental because it’s hard to detect birds from a moving vehicle.
But with Trip Reports, you can still keep all your types of lists. The stationary lists, the traveling lists, the incidental lists. They’re all summed together in one place. John is there anything else about Christmas Bird Counts that I may have forgotten?
[John Garrett] I think you covered it really well.
[Jenna Curtis] One, oh– another thing that I like is these Trip Reports make a great way to share your section information with other parties. Say, switch sectors from year to year or you’ve got a new sector that you’ve never heard it for the first time. If someone has an Uber Trip Report from a past year, that’s a fantastic way to see where people typically go during a Christmas Bird Count so that you can try and keep things consistent or try shaking it up and visit some new areas that may not have been checked before. All that information is right here especially with that location map.
[John Garrett] I guess I’ll add Christmas Bird Counts are a great example of a situation where you might want to deselect certain checklists because it very often happens for me. I’ll be doing a Christmas Bird Count and in my own sector and then someone will find some rare bird in a different sector and I’ll go and look for that. I don’t want that one checklist with that rare bird appearing in this Trip Report for my sector. So I can very easily just go to Manage– the go to Edit and then manage checklists and remove that one checklist with the rarity on it.
[Jenna Curtis] And I see a question in here. Can you pre create a collection data circle? That answer is yes. So if you have an upcoming Christmas Bird Count that hasn’t started yet, you can create a Trip Report for it today based on the dates of that CBC count and then as you’re submitting checklists throughout the day, they will automatically populate into the report that you created.
[Lisa Kopp] That’s great. We’re getting some questions about trips longer than 31 days or additional features or mobile versions. Do you guys have any insight or interesting tidbits that you could share about future developments or anything coming down with– I mean this is a brand new feature, but there’s a really engaged audience always looking to use your tools and new ways?
[John Garrett] Yeah, I would say that as you said this is a brand new feature, we just rolled this out and it was very important to have this feature out in time for Christmas Bird Counts. We’re always looking to make eBird better and improve on the various features that already exist in addition to creating new features. If there are features that you would really like to see in future iterations of Trip Reports, feel free to write to the Help Center with your suggestions.
We have a good list of ideas of things that we want to do already definitely, but we are very welcoming of your suggestions. We’d love to hear what you think. Yeah, so feel free to reach out.
[Lisa Kopp] That’s great, thank you. So we’re getting a couple of questions from people looking to get a demonstration of how to add photos or other media to a Trip Report which again we’ve got some great resources on past webinars and the eBird website because I think I know the answer to this, which is that it’s how you would normally add your information to a checklist. But I’ll have you guys again, you are the experts. Talk, maybe do a quick demo of that.
[John Garrett] Sure, I can do this unless you want to Jenna?
[Jenna Curtis] Go for it.
[John Garrett] So the way to do it is just the same as with checklists. So if you’re used to– and here’s a recent checklist I submitted. And the way to add media to a checklist is just go to add media and then drag and drop any photos that I have or sound recordings to this area. If this Trip Report is part of– if this checklist is part of a Trip Report already, those photos in this checklist will automatically appear in that report so you don’t go to the Trip Report and add media to that. You add the media to the checklist and all of the checklists are summarized in the Trip Report.
[Lisa Kopp] Perfect, thank you. The other thing that we’re seeing some questions on. I think we can maybe use another demo is the sharing feature. So how do you share with certain people and what are those different categories of editing owner viewer? Maybe Jenna since I feel like I’ve been asking John lots of questions but it’s up to you guys.
[Jenna Curtis] John, go for it one more time.
[John Garrett] So here let me screen share again. So let me go to a Trip Report. So go to my eBird and then Trip Reports and then I’ll pick one and that has other people on it. So how about– here’s a Christmas Bird Count. That I did with some friends. It’s a little goofy one, that’s like your name back.
[Lisa Kopp] I like your name.
[John Garrett] Yeah, it’s a tradition apparently to say this when you’re doing the sector of this Christmas Bird Count. So if I want to change the permissions that my friends Matt and James have for this Christmas Bird Count, I go to Manage people. And you can see right now Matt is an editor and James is a commenter and I can change James to an editor if I want or make Matt a comment or just through here. I can also do it when I’m inviting someone.
So say, I want to invite Abe Lincoln, I can choose– I don’t think that’s his real name but we’ll see about that. I can choose commenter or editor here and then when I invite him, he can be an editor or commenter and I can always change that later. Does that does that answer that question?
[Lisa Kopp] Yep, I think so. Thank you. And maybe Jenna you could– I don’t think this will require a demo but could you remind us of the different options and maybe even go back to some of the Merlin information about what can be used without Internet, where there’s no Wi-Fi or no mobile connection versus what needs to be done with Internet? But we’re seeing some questions about that.
[Jenna Curtis] Yeah, sure. Some of the Explorer features that we’ve shown hotspot maps exploring recent sightings of species on either the mobile device or on the eBird website do require an Internet connection. However, you can explore birds in Merlin and identify birds in Merlin and submit or create eBird checklists even without an Internet connection.
So if you’re in the field, you have no data and no cellular nothing, you can still start an eBird checklist, keep a list of the birds that you saw or heard and when you’re done, just click ‘Stop.’ That list is saved on your phone, it’s in the note submitted checklist tab. It’s stored there safely until you can return to service and submit it to your eBird account.
And so you can do this throughout the day. This keeping lists, stopping them, they’re saved and then when you’re back in service, just submit all of them at once. You won’t be able to select an exact location for your checklist while you’re in the field without a data connection. Your GPS is running, it’s logged your coordinates. But before you submit it when you return to service, just double check. Select the actual location name for your site based on the GPS coordinates, which were automatically collected.
And again, even if you can’t get an exact location for a list while you’re in the field because you don’t have a data connection, by having it the eBird pack installed on your device, you’ve already got frequency information and likely expected species lists on your phone. So you don’t need to download those, they’re already ready for you to go and keep a general list of the birds in the area. And then once you’ve selected the location, eBird will update that list even further for that specific site.
But having those packs installed, makes it a lot easier to start a list even without a Wi-Fi download to get a list of species in your area. And on Merlin, those packs contain all the photos, sounds, species descriptions, everything. So once you’ve downloaded a pack, you don’t really need to have Wi-Fi to use any of Merlin features.
[Lisa Kopp] Magic. What– so we’ve seen a couple of questions in the Q&A. How- can you reviewed how you can identify a bird in Merlin and then add it to a checklist in eBird? How are those two connected? And I actually know that’s– we’ve gotten questions about that from our past Merlin, a sound ID webinar. So I know that that’s something people are very eager to do as understand the connection between those two accounts.
[Jenna Curtis] Yeah, I can cover that one as well. So if you have both apps installed on your mobile device, you have both Merlin and eBird installed, you can choose to have eBird be the default location to save your bird identifications. Both Merlin and eBird allow you a way to save the birds that you’ve identified.
With Merlin, it’s internal. It saves it to your life list. With eBird, they go on to checklists. Both of those are great. If you’re already used to keeping eBird checklists and you’re identifying things in Merlin, you can set eBird as your default listing option. Then, whenever you go into Merlin to identify a bird, you tap This Is My Bird. It will send that species to a running eBird checklist, or start a new checklist if you don’t have one running, so that you can identify birds in Merlin and report them on your eBird checklist.
But again, you don’t need eBird on your phone to be able to identify birds in Merlin and save them to your Life List. That’s also all built into Merlin as well. So you don’t need to have eBird. But if you already are using eBird and want to link the two even further, you do have that option.
[Lisa Kopp] Great. That’s very, very helpful. Thank you. So you know, we’re getting a lot of questions about the Christmas Bird Counts. And I see Sarah’s dropping some additional links in the chat. But just so we’re saying it out loud, there are some really helpful tools on the eBird website that talk about using eBird for Christmas Bird Counts, sort of pre-Trip Reports. eBird announced there’s lots of information about that.
Anything that, John or Jenna, you want to share about just preparing for a Christmas Bird Count in general, the Reader’s Digest version, since we’ve only got a couple of minutes left?
[Jenna Curtis] I do see a lot of questions from compilers in the chat. And it’s so great that you guys are here. Thank you for joining us. Compilers, we should have shared, there are some resources that eBird and Audubon have put out for compilers. Some of those details are in the links.
If you head over to eBird.org, the top article is eBirding your CBC. There are some compiler notes there. One of the really cool things about Trip Reports is that your participants, people in your sectors can share the link to a Trip Report with you, and they don’t need to share the individual checklists with your account. So as a compiler, if you’re used to having people share individual checklists with you so that you can get their data, and then you have to delete those checklists from your account, that’s not necessary anymore. With an eBird Trip Report, you can get a summary of their activity as a link without ever having to be a member of that Trip Report or have those lists shared with you one by one.
As a compiler, it may be helpful to just tell folks, as you create a Trip Report, there’s that handy Share button. All they have to do is click Share, and they can email that Trip Report link to you the compiler via your email address. They just have to make sure that the Trip Report is public or link shareable to do that. And that way, you can get Trip Reports from all of your CBC participants without having to worry about usernames or checklists sharing, that sort of thing.
[Lisa Kopp] Wonderful. That’s great. So this has flown by. It’s been really, really interesting. Thank you both, John and Jenna, so much. Any sort of parting thoughts or words of wisdom as the folks behind this amazing new tool?
[John Garrett] Well, this is a little corny, but I’d say the most important thing is to have fun. I think this is a really fun feature. It shows fun things like your lifers and photo lifers, and just a great way to summarize your trips.
I think ultimately, birding is supposed to be fun. And it was really great to be able to help create a feature that is largely designed for it with that purpose in mind.
[Lisa Kopp] Great.
[Jenna Curtis] I wish we had more time to answer all the great questions we’ve seen. Thanks to everyone who’s written in and asked your questions. We do have some great helpful resources online for both Merlin and eBird. So if your question wasn’t answered here today, please do check out our online resources for more information.
Like John said, Trip Reports has been so much fun. We feel like it’s a fairly intuitive tool to just get started using for yourself, whether you’re creating it for a past trip or a future trip. Just get in there and try it out. We look forward to hearing how you guys use this to share your birding stories.
[Lisa Kopp] Great. And yeah, John and Jenna, thank you so much for this. For those of you who are tuning in over Zoom, you will automatically get emailed a recording of this webinar. For those of you who are viewing over Facebook, we will put in the comments the link to our archived video page. And that should– we should have the archived video posted in the next few days to be able to watch this.
I’m seeing a lot of questions requesting the chat transcript or the Q&A transcript. And unfortunately, for privacy purposes we can’t share that. We do in our Zoom, or in our follow-up email and on the archived links page, include some of the top links that we sent along in the chat. So be sure to check that information when you either receive the email or you go to our archived video page. We’ll try to figure out which ones were the most requested links and make sure that you can find those.
And again, thank you so much for tuning in. This is part of a series of webinars. And we hope to see you in the new year as we host a few more and. Thank you again, John and Jenna, for joining, and to you all for tuning in, and for all the really wonderful engaging questions.
Have a great rest of your day. Thank you all.
[John Garrett] Thank you so much.
[Lisa Kopp] Yeah, bye.
[Jenna Curtis] Thanks, everyone.End of transcript
Heading out birding? Whether it’s an afternoon roaming around your favorite spots, or a weeklong trip further afield, use NEW eBird Trip Reports to tell your birding story like never before. eBird Trip Reports are fun, easy-to-share summaries of where you went and the birds you found. Members of Team eBird will demonstrate this exciting new tool, plus additional trip-planning resources, and we’ll answer questions to help you prepare for your next birding adventure—no matter where you go.