Friday, May 29, 2009

Want to help with eBird hotspots???


There have been quite a few questions lately about 'eBird hotspots', most wondering why their hotspot suggestion hasn't yet been approved. Hotspots are an ongoing issue at eBird, mostly because the system we have in place is suffering from success! The concept is a great one, and we've got lots of hotspots in the database now, just over 30,000. The concept was pioneering at the time, 2002, to let eBirders create hotspots. Where we have a problem is actually finding the time to go in and approve all the hotspot suggestions. That job falls to Chris, Marshall and me, and despite trying to keep up with it we have fallen behind. Right now there are about 5,000 pending! The only reason we don't approve a hotspot request is if it already exists (a common problem) or if the place is a personal location like someone's backyard. In any case, there are many requests languishing, and that means that we have to change the process.

In some states people have stepped up to become hotspot editors, and we'd like to pursue this model nationwide and countrywide throughout the rest of the Western Hemisphere. These individuals essentially manage all the hotspot requests for the state (or country) and have the power to merge, move and rename existing hotspots. In places like California, Texas, and North Carolina we have people actively managing hotspots and the process goes smoothly. We need help elsewhere though! So, if anyone out there wants to help manage hotspots for their state, please get in touch with us. After an initial bit of work, it probably would take about 10 minutes per week/state.

Let us know if you'd like to help and we can give you the tools!


  1. I would like to help!!! At least for Chiapas which I know pretty well. Don't think I would be any good as manager for a entire country LOL. What are the basic requirements for hotspots besides lots of birds, public acessible???

  2. I live in the west central mountains of Idaho, 6 mi north of Council on 40 acres beside the Weiser River with lots of different types of wildlife (birds, animals & fish). I would love to help in any way possible if you need someone in this area. Please advise...
    Thank you, Brenda S Adams (

  3. I live in RIchmond and know most of central VA pretty well. Am am also volunteering with the Audubon Virginia Important Bird Areas to get the word out about it. I am wondering if there is an opportunity to put a link out about this if people are searching in VA or posting birding hot spots in VA. Or just posting a general link would be great.

  4. To add to what Brian said, we should say that at least the following states have active hotspot managers:

    North Carolina
    Rhode Island

  5. I have been trying to promote the use of ebird knowing it to be a great tool for conserving birds and the environment we share with them. Toward that end,I placed a post in your Flickr birdshare discussion field. Thus far no one has responded. I was wondering what you thought of the concept I suggested. This is the text of the post. " I have been using eBird for several years and have found it to be very useful for my personal birding effort. It is constantly improving and providing great end-user functionality. It certainly has great potential to provide essential data for scientist and conservationist all over the world. eBird’s introduction of the Top 100 list brought to my attention that only a small fraction of birders in my county are actually using it. What was most disturbing was that few if any members of the local Audubon Society were using it. I thought if we used the power of the internet to make more birders aware of the program it could help promote its use, utimately, help us to conserve birds and their environment.

    In doing some online research on the Red Headed Woodpecker I came across a statement at the National Audubon’s website that promoted the use of eBird to help conserve threatened species. “Help in monitoring this and other species by reporting your sightings to eBird. A project of Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, eBird is the world's first comprehensive on-line bird monitoring program:”

    I got the idea of placing this statement in the description field of each of my bird photographs that I post on my Flickr site. In this way birders in all the groups I belong to would be made aware of the program if they were not already using it.
    Then of course, the idea that if one birder could help promote its use then hundreds of birdshare participants would really have an impact, finally dawns on me. What do you think?
    I have had some success in that flickr users, that have seen my photos, have responded with a thanks for the information. Hopefully they will become users. There seems to be some resistant by members of my local Audubon society to use the system and continue with their own non computerized system of recording sightings. I would think with the project being supported by the national organization, the Audubon would reach out to these local chapters and encourage them to use the system.

  6. I already have a website listing prime birding sites aorund Montreal and am webmaster for Bird protection Quebec so if nobody else has already signed up to "manage" Quebec/Montreal hotspots I'm up for the task

  7. eBird has been a great experience and a long desired way for me to contribute. i'm very grateful for everything you do. i found eBird in the first place when i was thinking that there should be some group taking in data from "just" folks. i know many people who birdwatch. and so i googled and there you were!
    thank you for all the hard work. our part is so small by contrast.
    about hotspots, i decided, after looking at some of the local data, that there's already a few people near me who have presented several 'hot spots' and i didn't really need to add to it. i added one because i was surprised it wasn't already there. i think all the official parks that have bird sanctuaries should be listed automatically. maybe it would encourage visitors to those parks to start counting.
    thanks again,

  8. I typed up somethign earlier and apparently forgot to post it. the gist of it was:

    What makes a location a hotspot, and what doesn't? It seems like a location being private property seems to rule out a location, but what else?

    Also, One thing that might be for country/state/county/city managers of hotspots to consider is adding parks/preserves/etc so they are already listed on the map; some people may not want to add a location themselves or now how to find it.

    Another thing might be for a third area type to be added to the current list of "Personal" and "Hotspots" and that is "Parks/Reserves/Etc" (yellow perhaps?) Enough observations at one of these locations (if #s is all that matter) would make it likely to be a hotspot.

  9. I have a different suggestion for three categories of locations. Personal, Public and Hotspots. I can't locate it now but I seem to recall that somewhere on the site a hotspot is or was defined as a location accessible to the publc. Now, I have submitted reports from public locations that I would in no way classify as hotspots, such as parking lots. Technically I suppose they would qualify as a hotspot simply because they're public and it might make sense to give people the option of classifying these public sites as "Public" but I can see where that might quickly become way too complicated and burdensome.

  10. When eBird provided the means to merge personal locations with existing hotspots I did that for a couple of my locations. But it is frustrating to see that other birders did not do this. Thus for some locations there are personal locations at the same site and with the same name as an existing hotspot and there is no way to generate a report for the hotspot that will include all the sightings. Even more frustrating is to see someone post a sighting for an existing hotspot yet not post it to the hotspot, rather creating a personal location with a similar name. Perhaps eBird should re-post the topic to its home page and urge everyone to merge their sightings with hotspots when appropriate.

  11. California is a huge place, so if Hotspot managing is needed in the Central Coast I am willing to assist.

  12. I am pretty familiar with birding locations in east Tennessee but haven't done much in middle or west Tennessee. How important is it that the hotspot manager for a state be familiar with all the locations he or she is managing? I would be willing to do it for east Tennessee at least.

  13. Once again, I second Oriole's question.

  14. I'm willing to do hotspot work for NJ. I have a good knowledge of many of the birding area's and am very comfortable doing research to qualify the ones I'm not personally familiar with. reach me at

  15. oops make that

  16. I could do Hotspot managing for at least Oakland County, MI. I'm not sure that I know the state well enough to do the whole thing. I probably could do it for most of SE Michigan as well.

  17. Do you have to be familiar with all an area???

    David Rach


  18. I would love to help with hotspots in Minnesota. Also willing to help with North Dakota (lived there for over 20 years).

    spottedtowee at gmail dot com

  19. I can help with Florida, I know most of the hotspots already from doing my Big Year last year and coming in first for the year and 3rd all-time. I am approaching 400 species for Florida alone and chase just about everything that I need in the state. Listing disorder you know.

  20. All

    "Hotspots" are defined as public locations where multiple birders submit data. So it could be a relative few who use a local park, but it is still considered a "hotspot". Many of my locations are on public property, but would not make sense as "Hotspots", for example, many of my submissions are from point counts along roads that no one but me would ever visit. On the other hand, when I find a new location that is frequently birded by many people and I see that it's not in eBird, I suggest it as a 'Hotspot' so others can use it and all the data can be under one roof.


  21. All

    If you are interested in volunteering to manage hotspots for a state, or even part of a state, please email me privately at Thanks for the help!


  22. Mike

    Great idea about the Flickr/eBird connection!


  23. In TEXAS we are well over 1000 hot spots and still adding. When I started eBird at about the time it started, the location function was very difficult. So I birded by counties of which we have 254 in TEXAS. But, the new system is very quick to enter a location. I have been going back to my previous check lists and changing them from counties to hot sports or putting in personal locations with recommendations for hot spots when appropriate. The hot spot system is very helpful.

  24. Hi Brian,

    Hope you read this, but I would help with hotspots in Illinois as best I can. Feel free to contact me with what I need to learn to get started.

    Jeff Skrentny
    Cook County, IL

  25. "Hotspots" are defined as public
    locations where multiple birders
    submit data

    The trouble is the in-between stuff. Obviously, Pt. PiƱos is a hotspot. Obviously, the intersection of county roads 13 and Q in Sedgewick County, Nebraska is not. But what about, say, a random small town in Kansas? I might hit it to get House Sparrow for a county list; other people chasing county lists in KS might do the same. Or they might not-- there are half a dozen other small towns in the county. Hotspot or not?