In 2002, The Cornell Lab or Ornithology and National Audubon Society launched the eBird project – a real-time, online checklist to collect bird observations voluntarily submitted by the general public. In ten years, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds.
eBird’s goal is to maximize the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers. It is amassing one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence. For example, in March 2012, participants reported more than 3.1 million bird observations across North America!
About the Poster
I mapped eBird lists submitted in the continental US from January 1st through December 31st, 2012 to reveal spatial patterns of list distribution across the landscape. I also quantified the number of lists submitted within each state and county to identify areas of high and low participation. This analysis shows researchers (and eBirders) where more effort could be deployed.
The data used for my analysis was obtained through the eBird online data download tool, with access granted by written request. Using the latitude and longitude coordinates associated with each list, I used ArcGIS to plot each point on my map.
These data represent sampling events (a.k.a. Bird Lists Submitted), which are different than observations. Each sampling event is made up of numerous observations (on average, there were about 14 observations per sampling event in 2012). The observations data were too numerous for mapping as a whole (23,081,382 data points), but could be used for analysis of individual bird species reported.
I designed this poster to offer a general introduction to the eBird Project, focusing on data collected in the most recent year (2012). This printed poster measures 60 x 40 inches, so the details are a bit illegible when the document is sized for the computer screen. Developing this poster helped me work through the challenges of designing a large format printed piece. Establishing a clear flow and visual hierarchy was key for designing such a large poster as this one. My goal here was to make a poster that the average viewer could wrap their head around as quickly as possible (they say you've got about 90 seconds tops). While I have included quite a few details for those who are interested, I believe it's easy to hone in on the main map and come away with everything important in no time at all.