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What is an eBird Hotspot?

Hotspots are public birding locations created by eBird users. Using Hotspots, multiple birders can enter data into the same shared location, creating aggregated results available through "View and Explore Data". When you suggest a location as a hotspot, it must first be approved by a hotspot administrator before it becomes available to the public.  The idea is to avoid the creation of duplicate hotspots, and to make sure that the location in indeed a hotspot (e.g. Point Loma) and not a personal location (e.g., My Backyard).  This process can be lengthy and involved, and our volunteer hotspot administrators sometimes can take weeks to approve requests.

To help speed this process up, it is important that you try to ensure that the hotspot you suggest does not already exist.

What locations are appropriate hotspots?

Hotspots can be any public birding location, but you should think about scale when making a suggestion. As a general rule of thumb is that the smaller or more spatially refined the location, the better. This way we can know exactly where you saw the birds and we're able to analyze landscape variables associated with the location. This becomes hard if you are reporting from large geographic areas (e.g., Yosemite National Park!). Instead try suggesting a more refined location like "Yosemite NP--Glacier Point". We are trying to avoid the inclusion of large-scale hotspots in the database (e.g., long traveling counts like cruises) that don't really represent specific locations.

Hotspot naming conventions:

1. Single Locations

Single locations are places that do not need modifiers and are generally well known or large scale birding localities (e.g., Pt. Reyes or Cape May Pt.).  Naming for single locations should follow typical grammatical structure, and use the  following abbreviations (except in Australia, where no abbreviations are used):

  • State Park – SP
  • National Wildlife Refuge – NWR
  • National Park – NP
  • Parque Nacional – PN (Latin America)
  • Road – Rd.

2. Sub-locations

Sub-locations are smaller scale birding locations found within a larger
primary location. These sub-locations are meant to allow more specific data entry for locations found within a larger area of interest. For example, one might bird Montezuma NWR in New York. But within Montezuma NWR there are several major birding locations including Towpath Rd. and Benning Marsh. Sub-locations should always follow the primary location separated by a double dash (--). These would be listed as follows:

  • Montezuma NWR--Auto Loop
  • Montezuma NWR--Benning Marsh
  • Montezuma NWR--Towpath Rd.

3. Locations needing additional modifiers

Occasionally to clarify matters locations require additional modifiers, typically county designations. For example, there might be ten different lakes called “Blue Lake” in California, each with its own set of associated sub-locations. We need to add both sub-location and the county modifier to make it clear to the user which location to choose. County modifiers should always follow the primary
location name and the sub-location name (if present), and should always appear in parentheses.

  • Blue Lake—Vista Overlook (Placer Co.)
  • Blue Lake—Boat Launch (Monterey Co.)
  • Blue Lake (San Diego Co.)

4. Stakeout Rarities

At times there is a rare bird that many people go to look for. Instead of creating dozens of separate locations to represent this location, we recommend suggesting this as a hotspot.  These should be clearly labeled using the format below. Note the LACK of capitalization in the word “stakeout”, which will bring it to the end of the location lists in eBird. This will allow users to clearly understand that these sites are not traditional hotspots, but that they still provide the advantages of aggregating observations from a single site. We recommend this practice for any and all widely twitched rarities. 

Examples:

  • stakeout Western Tanager Attitash Ave., Merrimac (2008)
  • stakeout Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Talcottville (2012)

We've recommended the year to help users. If spanning multiple years, you can go with "(2011-12)"

You can also view the bar chart for the above examples--the Massachusetts  Western Tanager or the New York Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch--to see how this looks in eBird.

 

Can I get a list of all the hotspots?

The easiest way to see where hotspots are found is to simply use the mapping tool when you submit observations. There you can move around within a state and click on the icon to see the name of each hotspot. Note, that hotspots do take 24 hours to process through our system, so even if our editors have approved a hotspot, it may not show up until the next day.

eBirders sometimes  ask us for the list of all hotspots, along with coordinates. A list of these hotspots has been made using our eBird Hotspot API and is available here:

https://confluence.cornell.edu/display/CLOISAPI/eBird-1.1-HotSpotsByRegion

Can I help with hotspot management?

If you are interested in helping administer hotspots in your state or county, or have an urgent hotspot request that requires immediate attention please email us.

ebirdhelp@gmail.com
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