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Using the eBird Range Maps

eBird has always specialized in showing bird sightings with state-of-the-art maps. As mapping services have improved, eBird has continually evolved to better serve this information. Our latest revision to the "Range and point maps" allows you to view global maps for any species or subspecies, refine the data to a specific season or date range, and then drill down to the individual sightings that make up the map.

With eBird point maps now fully integrated with grid maps, instead of dense clusters of points we now show grid cells at the wide scale and points at the fine scale. This provides an integrated way to explore bird occurrence at very broad and very fine scales, and with a new ability to refine these maps by date range, it is now possible to explore the full richness of the eBird dataset -- all species, anywhere in the world, at any season, and in any year.

Please read on for a summary of the latest improvements to the eBird maps:

New features

  • Integrated maps: Grid maps and point maps are now fully integrated: point maps are most useful at fine scales, while grid maps better convey information on frequency of occurrence at the wide scales. Now it is possible to zoom and navigate through the entire eBird database from the global range maps. Be sure to read below for tips on how to zoom and navigate.
  • Set date range: For the first time, it is now possible to refine global grid maps to a specific date range. This allows you to search for winter records of Western Yellow Wagtail, for recent reports of Sooty Tern, or to compare Eurasian Collared-Dove occurrence for 2000-2011 to that from 1900-1990 (they have colonized fast!!)
  • Click on points for more info: When you zoom in to the point level you can click on any point for more information. New with this release is the ability to see the original checklist from this view. Often the species comments can provide helpful information on exactly where to find a given rarity or can give context or additional details for rare sightings. Note that checklist comments are displayed for your checklists only (see "privacy in checklists" below).
  • Point map icons: The points shown in the point maps now give two pieces of information at the same time. Hotspots and Personal Locations each have different icons (helping you to find new birding sites to visit), and each is color-coded so that recent sightings are shown in red-orange while older records are shown in blue.
  • Explore subspecies: You can explore range maps and specific records for subspecies as well as species (this has not always been possible within eBird). Try comparing Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) and Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's).
  • Street view: In the image below (with the yellow arrow), notice the little man standing at the top left of the picture. This allows you to see street view for portions of the google map interface where it is available. To use it, just drag the little man on top of a point and you will get a "non birds-eye" view (!) of the habitat. This is really fun to play with!

Using the new maps to find birds

The new maps are a powerful tool for finding a species that you want to see. If you are traveling to a new area, trying making a bar chart for the area you are visiting, such as San Diego County, California. Then refine the date range to show only birds seen in San Diego County in September 2011.

From this bar chart, you can simply scroll through and look for species you'd like to find. To get more details on a species--such as Surfbird--just click the 'MAP' link. Zoom in and pan around as needed to find out exactly where Surfbirds have been seen recently. Then just use the back button in your browser to go back to the bar chart and explore the next species, be it Lawrence's Goldfinch or something else!

This makes it really quick and easy to view both the seasonal and geographic patterns with ease, as well as to zoom in on areas of high occurrence and see the relevant details by clicking on the points.

Navigating and Zooming the maps

eBird range maps may be just fine to look at when you first open them, but to feel their real power you need to learn how to navigate them. To move the map center just click and drag the map to the left or right. You also can use the magnifying glass (see below) to quickly enlarge a portion of the map, or double-click the map to zoom and recenter the map on a new area.

Please take note of the "zoom to" box in the top right. Here you can type any location (including towns, states, and counties) and the map will automatically zoom and center on that location. At any point you can click the "Full species range" button to get back to the wide-scale view showing all records.

To zoom in you have several options:

  • The best way to zoom is to use the little magnifying glass on the left side (just below to zoom bar) and use it to draw a box. To draw a box just click the magnifying glass, then left click on the map, drag to create a box, and release to zoom in on the box. Many eBirders don't know of this feature, but it is really helpful.
  • The same functionality can be accomplished by holding the Shift key and then using your mouse to draw a box.
  • You can also double-click anywhere on the map to zoom in one level
  • Finally, you can use the slider bar (just above the magnifying glass) to zoom in or out (clicking near the '+' zooms in)


Privacy in checklists

Please be aware that while your checklist comments will appear when you click on your checklists from the point maps, checklist comments will not be available to other birders. Try clicking on someone else's checklist to see that checklist comments remain private.

Data submitted to eBird is available to other birders, as well as to scientists and conservationists. Original eBird checklists are valuable in that they allow others to see the full assemblage of species at a location as well as the effort expended to find them. While all data are made available to science and conservation interests, checklist comments will remain private in eBird. Please read "Data privacy issues" for more information.
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