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eBird Contributes to Birding, Conservation, and Tourism

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s (ANHC) natural areas support many rare birds and other birds of interest to birders. But knowing what species is where can be problematic. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have an easily accessible tool that shows you the names of species and where they have been seen? Wouldn’t it be great to have something to help you find a bald eagle, painted bunting, red-cockaded woodpecker, or short-eared owl?

Voila, eBird is that tool. Developed and managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society (NAS), eBird ( documents species observations with a checklist system. Users submit their observations though a web-based interface that encourages users to participate by providing tools that maintain their personal bird records and enable them to explore observations of others anywhere across the globe. These efforts by eBird users, currently numbering 100,000 and growing about 40 percent per year, not only assist birders but also contribute to science and conservation. A NAS online article noted that The New York Times called eBird “Crowdsourcing, for the Birds,” and concluded that it is “a revelation for scientists” and gives birders “a new sense of purpose.”

The web-based interface is most easily used on a computer, though it can be accessed on most smartphones. Applications (apps) are also available for entering and exploring data. Recent upgrades of the eBird app make it easy to enter observations from any location at any time, as long as you have phone service. For example, ANHC staff member Bill Holimon has entered data while eating lunch under a shade tree at Warren Prairie Natural Area. In addition, BirdsEye is a great app that is billed as a “Bird Finding Guide” and utilizes eBird data to provide concise and easily usable information on any bird of interest. Learn more about these and other useful bird apps at the following:   

Such tools help attract birders to natural areas and other locations, contributing to tourism and the state’s economy. The most recent Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) indicates that nearly $15 billion was spent in 2011 on birding trip-related expenditures in the United States. These web-based tools also provide a way for you to contribute data about Arkansas’s natural areas, helping the ANHC learn more about the areas we manage.










































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