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". A "Hotspot" does not necessarily have to be an outstanding location for birds or birding – the goal is to have a set of public locations that people regularly visit for birding, somewhat regardless of how amazing they are for birds. If you have a small urban park that you check regularly, but you only ever see a few species there – we still want to know, and would like to have it as a hotspot! The key is that it is a public location that many birders can use, so places like your yard don't really qualify.
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 creating duplicate hotspots, and to make sure that the location is 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. If it does already exist, please merge your personal location with the existing hotspot. Note: 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.
Although hotspots are used to aggregate results in popular birding locations, you should not ALWAYS use a hotspot while eBirding. If you went birding in a location that is accurately represented by a hotspot, then you should use that hotspot. If you were birding adjacent to a hotspot, or somehow birding in a way that isn't accurately represented by that hotspot, then you should NOT use that hotspot. You can create a new location, and either suggest it as a public hotspot or keep it as a personal location. The more specifically named the hotspot is, the more the birding included in your checklist should be restricted to the named location. If it is named "Intersection of 1st Ave x Broadway Blvd" use it for birding done at that intersection. Don't use it for a 5 mile walk passing through that intersection; instead use the one named "Broadway Blvd" for that longer birding experience.
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.
Can I get a list of all the hotspots?
eBirders sometimes ask us for the list of all hotspots, along with coordinates. A list of these hotspots is available via our eBird Hotspot API and is an easily downloadable file here:
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.
For more about Hotspots, please see the All About: Hotspots article.