Starting in May, eBird hit a big milestone: 11.8 million bird sightings in that month alone – the same amount of sightings the citizen science database collected in the first five years it existed. Participation in recent years had shot up enough to make that sort of number, and these sorts of maps, possible. Then, on June 17th, the 333,333,333th checklist was submitted to eBird from a participant in Illinois. A third of a billion records submitted by just over three-hundred thousand different people around the world since the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon partnered to make it possible for people to easily digitize their bird sighting checklists – that amounts to an average of a thousand-and-fifty checklists per eBirder!
At the end of last month, eBird saw another big number, with a million bird photos archived in the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library through the new tool allowing users to attach images to their checklists. And this week, the app Merlin got downloaded by its millionth user since it was launched for iPhones in January 2014 (and a bit later on Android phones). But eBird, Merlin, and the Macaulay Library aren’t the only ones reaching milestones this summer.
Exactly a month after that third-of-a-billionth checklist by a backyard birder from Illinois, I submitted my own thousandth checklist to eBird from Rancho Sol de Mayo in the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Those thousand checklists come from about two and a half years of contributing to eBird, sometimes frequently and others very seldom; I had also documented some sightings a couple times a year before that. The checklists are comprised of casual outings to look for birds in the garden or at a national park, but especially bolstered by the research I did in Jamaica last year, when we were conducting point counts several times an hour, each of which resulted in a checklist. Those point counts, as well as a strengthening interest in birding and finding new species, account for my thousandth checklist added to the database of bird observations to be used by scientists.
As a more purely personal achievement, earlier this year at Villa del Faro, I saw my 600th bird species, a year almost to the day after seeing my 500th species and writing a post titled, “Can a Casual Birder Have a 500+ Life List?” Re-reading those thoughts today, I find that they still hold true for my case, although I may be a little more engaged in the day-to-day checklist submissions to increase my chances at winning the eBirder of the Month challenge, and I also bought my first bird guide, so the craving for collection may have just gotten stronger:
Learn more about the milestones I mentioned earlier in the post by visiting eBird’s homepage.