Four Golden Eagle, two Gadwall, one Greater Yellowlegs and fourteen red-throated loon were spotted in the Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area on November 3, a small sample of the species that were seen and recorded during the Lac Deschênes Naturehood Tour earlier this month.
I didn’t spot them and the birders who joined me at Rue Houle Boat Launch – one of the Tour’s six stops – didn’t see them either. But I know they were there, scattered along the Ottawa River’s banks, because of a revolutionary tool that keeps track of bird sightings throughout the western hemisphere.
Welcome to birding 2.0.
In a world where so much of our time is spent online, birders have flocked to eBird to record and share their sightings with birders, scientists, policymakers, friends and family. eBird, developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, is a program that allows people to submit their bird observations online.
Since it launched in 2002, tens of thousands of people have added their observations to eBird. Each piece of information on its own doesn’t hold much value, but collectively, thousands of observations provide ornithologists and conservation biologists with the information they need to piece together a picture of bird health. Increases and decreases in populations over time, patterns of migration – these are examples of valuable trends that can be discerned from eBird data.
But it’s not just biologists and land managers who benefit from this rich source of information. Ever wonder what kinds of birds you might see on a family vacation? Which birds are declining in your city? eBird is a go-to source for bird questions big and small.
On November 3, Alex MacDonald, our protected areas manager, was lucky enough to spot a rare bird during the Lac Deschênes Naturehood Tour. A Cave Swallow presented itself, almost as if on cue, for tour participants gathered at Bate Island. Alex took note and added his observation to eBird – so did a handful of other birders.