This eBird Alert notifies you about any unusual bird that has been reported in your region of interest, and provides a link to the location and to the checklist so you can get more information about the sighting, and make the critical call as to whether it's worth calling in sick to work! You can choose to receive Rare Bird Alerts on either the county, state, or country level, and get notices for all rare birds in that region! Read on for details on how the rarities are determined.
Like all alerts, you have the option to subscribe hourly, daily, or just to visit the Alerts page and click to see the results from the past seven days. Since most Alerts will be drawing on your eBird data, you are required to log in to see them. Check out the article on subscribing and unsubscribing to Alerts for more information.
How it works
The Rare Bird Alert works in conjunction with the regional eBird checklist filters. Every time a record is entered in eBird, the location and date of the sighting is run against a list of expected maximum counts for each species in the area. If the number of birds in the sighting exceeds those expected counts, you receive the eBird confirmation message (always a sign that you have found a good bird!), asking you to confirm your entry. An Oleaginous Hemispingus at eBird HQ in Sapsucker Woods would definitely show up on these reports. These records are then confirmed by our volunteer expert reviewers, and these steps are critical to our data quality process. These checklist filters define what constitutes a "rare bird" in a region by highlighting any species (or subspecies) with the count limit set to zero, and those are the reports featured in the Rare Bird Alerts! These Alerts include not only out-of-range birds, but also unseasonal sightings. So a Curve-billed Thrasher showing up in Vermont obviously would be considered a rarity, but so would a January report of Red-eyed Vireo from the same area. As with other alerts, rarity records that have not been reviewed by an eBird editor are labeled as "UNCONFIRMED". Once records have been reviewed and approved, they are labeled as "CONFIRMED".
eBird checklist filters
Please be aware that our Rare Bird Alerts rely on the quality of the checklist filter running behind it. Although eBird is a global project, these checklist filters are still fairly coarse in many areas outside North America, and these coarse filters could miss some reports of rarities. The United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Chile, Argentina, and Costa Rica as well as the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, and scattered other countries and regions have refined, detailed filters. But for many other countries the filters are in need of refinement from experts, including most of Africa and Asia, parts of Europe, and even some areas in the New World (Guyana, Colombia, and a few others). If you are willing to help develop filters in these parts of the world, we would welcome your help (please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.). Also, if you think a bird should show up on the Rare Bird Alert and it isn't, drop us a line so we can modify the filter accordingly!
For more on Alerts, check out the All About: Alerts article.