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I'm a firm believer that the vast majority of birders underestimate numbers of or even individual birds. This is something I discovered I personally had done until I began utilizing the eBird (and former BirdLog) apps *while* I was in the field.

An example, I birded Wyandotte Co. Lake on the Kansas side of Kansas City on 10 May, observed and/or heard upwards of 90! Swainson's Thrushes. Other birders birding that park either same day or very close to it recorded no more than 26-28 birds, which is a staggeringly gross misrepresentation of what was actually present.

Driving through a state park yesterday I had counts of 20-30 Red-eyed Vireos and House Wrens, almost certainly two species that are drastically underestimated in eBird tallies.

This is arguably my biggest pet peeve with the utilization of eBird, and perhaps it lies not only on issues with filter thresholds. One of two issues springs to mind, either better efforts (and practice) need to be made at estimating numbers or more attention needs to be paid *during* each individual outing or checklist, rather than waiting until *after* that outing is completed. If you wait until the end of the day to record your eBird lists, I'd argue that you're better off putting X's for everything and not even bother trying to record numbers.

My two cents.

Danny Akers
Ames, IA

_____________________________
From: Mary McCarthy <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2017 11:47 AM
Subject: Re: Reporting accurately on eBird
To: <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>


You are very right. I think the count is the hardest thing on eBird.  If there is something unusual I try to count it reasonably well, but things like red wing blackbirds and various swallows at Eagle Bluffs are impossible to count when I am looking for other birds. I am not totally accurate.  I am sure I don't see all that are there, but I try to estimate as close as possible.  What is the recommended way to do this?


Mary, Columbia

On Jul 13, 2017, at 10:22 AM, Andrew Reago <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:

We noticed that over the years many of us using eBird put down low counts on birds to avoid being flagged or having to do the work of describing how you made that count.  We have done that, too. We know about other birders doing this, too, because we all talk in the field about this issue with them. We joke about it or talk about our frustrations or our laziness or whatever.

However, we have made a commitment this year to no longer do that.

I want to encourage everyone to make this commitment, too.  If everyone starts to be diligent, accurate and have integrity to their eBird reporting, then our flagged counts will eventually get approved  -  and the data will improve.

What brought this up for us were the many trips made by birders to the Grand Tower Island area to look for the Anhinga around the same time - and all the low counts entered on the Black-necked Stilt in particular.  Chrissy and I counted 62 Black-necked Stilts on our first pass on the levee.  There were actually many more, but to avoid recounting and to keep our count conservative and as accurate as possible, we left it at 62 in our report on eBird.  This did not get approved.  Everyone who went there had to see they were numerous, everywhere and the easiest shorebird to ID with a scope out of the hundreds present.  Still, birders were reporting seriously low numbers like 1 or 3 or 6 or 12 or such on the BNST. Only one other person put down a high count besides us.  (Rhonda Rothrock reported 53 on 6/28/17 and got that approved. We reported 62 on 7/9/17 and got shot down.)

I understand folks might be looking for the Anhinga and not counting BNST, but when we put down 62 and most others put down something between 1-12, well, it seems a sort of injustice to the bird.  Also, our count, made diligently and accurately, goes unapproved and looks ridiculous, when the low counts are what are inaccurate, not ours.

This is about justice for the bird, not us.  BNST are desperate for good habitat to raise their young, as are most shorebirds.  They found a good area this year at Grand Tower Island.  That seems important to us.  (By the way, the reporting on all shorebirds in this area was equally poor and inaccurate.)

I think folks can do target birding and accurately represent bird species present.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe folks get in a hurry when they target bird or don't have time.  I am just putting a plea to those who might take the time, to do so.

We were lucky that the Anhinga flew over us right away when we got there late in the day - and again when we left - but even so, we were enchanted by this new and exciting area to bird and wanted to do justice to reporting all the birds present.

I hope all birders will consider this and not be afraid of true and accurate reporting.

Andy Reago

St. Louis MO

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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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