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Can I view arrivals, departures, or high counts for a species in my region?

We are pleased to announce the release of several new eBird output tools featuring Arrivals, Departures and High Counts. These tools provide birders with new ways to explore the eBird data, to learn when and where birds are being reported and to get a better sense of eBird's historic data. Are you curious about how many species birders have reported in your state or county this year? Do you want to know if your 15 March Yellow-throated Warbler was the first one seen this year, or perhaps even the earliest record ever submitted to eBird? Or do you want to know if the 137 Stilt Sandpipers you counted at your favorite shorebirding spot was the all-time high count reported to eBird? Exploring the answers to these questions is now possible within eBird. Simply log in to eBird, go to 'View and Explore Data,' and then try out the 'Arrivals and Departures' or 'High Counts' options. These new tools allow you to dig deeper into the eBird database than ever before!

The new tools provide tabular output that display species, count, date, location, and observer for a suite of new options. Selection criteria at the top allow you to refine your search by location and year, and also allow you to look at arrivals (first since January 1) and departures (closest to December 31), or all-time records (first-ever or most recent records). Each column is sortable (note the blue column headers) which allows you to explore the data in different ways. By adjusting the location and year you can easily see any of the following:

  1. Total species reported in eBird for the current year or any past year
  2. Earliest records for each species
  3. High count for your state, county, or favorite birding hotspot
  4. Number of your own records that are the earliest, latest, highest count, or all-time first records.

Note that for all the displays on these tables we exclude records submitted only at the state level. Below we discuss each type of output in more depth.

Arrivals: Click "Arrivals" option at the top of the table to display first arrivals and make sure the 'all-time records' box is unchecked. The arrivals output shows the first sighting of a species since 1 January at the selected location in a given year (or subset of years). If a single year is displayed, it will display the first sighting of that species for a given year. If multiple years are selected, it will display the earliest record, regardless of the year. Thus, in the 2006-2007 range a 13 March 2006 Yellow-throated Warbler will be displayed instead of a 15 March 2007 Yellow-throated Warbler. Try clicking the headers to sort by date, observer, location, count, or species (taxonomic order).

Departures: Click "Departures" at the top of the table to display the last sightings of a species in a given year or subset of years, and make sure the 'all-time records' box is unchecked. The departures output displays the latest sighting of a species (i.e., the nearest to 31 December). In the current year, that will always be the most recently-submitted record. This is an excellent way to check on who has most recently reported a given rarity in the state or to look for information on where to look for a species you'd like to see.

All-time first sightings: To see this output, make sure the 'all-time records' box is checked and then click 'firsts'. This all-time first sightings output displays the oldest record in the eBird database. One might think of these as first state records based on the eBird database. For example, in California, the first state record of Lesser Frigatebird was found by a team of eBirders on 15 July 2007, and so this sighting is displayed as the 'all-time first sighting' in the eBird database and it is in fact the first state record. However, the first Magnificent Frigatebird is currently displayed as having occurred 16 July 1977, even though the real first record for California came in the form of a skull found on Southeast Farallon Island in 1861! With dozens of records between 1861 and 1977, this display will be updated as soon as someone enters a Magnificent Frigatebird from California from a date prior to 16 July 1977.

All-time last sightings: To see this output, make sure the 'all-time records' box is checked and then click 'last'. This all-time last sightings output displays the most recent record in the eBird database. In many cases, this will show the same value as the departures output for the current year (i.e., an American Crow seen yesterday will show up as both the all-time last and departure). However, if the species has not been seen this year, or has not been seen for many years, this will display the most recent sighting reported to eBird. Thus, for Red-footed Falcon in Massachusetts, the last sighting was 24 August 2004--we don't expect a much more recent one anytime soon!

High Counts: Choose the High Counts output to view the highest single species report for a location in eBird. As of now, all observations are included in this output. However, users are encouraged to be as precise as possible when plotting locations and please don't start performing long traveling counts and huge area counts to boost your totals! A 100 mile long traveling count is of little value when analysts are trying to link birds with habitats, so please keep the science in mind when considering long traveling counts!

Tie break: It is obviously possible to have two people see the first returning Yellow-throated Warbler on the same date. How then does eBird decide which record to display? For arrivals, departures, all-time firsts, and all-time lasts, we give credit to the person who submitted their eBird list first. For high counts, we take the checklists with the latest start time, and then break any remaining ties by giving credit to the person who submitted their eBird list first.

LocationsLocations names are exposed on all records, but only eBird hotspots are available for mapping. Thus, if a record or location is sensitive, please do not suggest the location as an eBird hotspot.

Record validation and these new tables: At eBird we take great pride in our data quality--each eBird record is vetted by a process that involves both automated filters and dedicated volunteer reviewers. Your personal lists will always reflect exactly the birds you report to eBird--we never delete anyone's sightings no matter if they report a flock of Passenger Pigeons visiting their backyard feeder or Torrent Ducks swimming in their St. Louis park pond. In cases like these the records are set to 'invalid' and hidden from public view, but still available to the original observer. However, we do subject unlikely sightings to expert review and we do require documentation before such sightings are validated in our master database (read more about data quality here). This means that for certain types of output, such as the eBird Google Gadget and this new eBird Summary Tool, we do not display the invalid records.

How often is it updated? These tables are not update immediately, but instead are updated nightly.

How do I find it? Point your browser to the eBird webpage and click on the 'View and Explore Data' tab. Then click either 'arrivals and departures', 'first and last records' or 'high counts'.

We hope you enjoy this new window into the data that are submitted to eBird. We hope to continue to provide new ways of visualizing and exploring the eBird database. Remember, that your records will only show up if you submit them to eBird! And please always remember, that every single sighting you submit serves a larger purpose and informs our understanding of bird distribution and occurrence throughout the hemisphere.

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