The Atlas and eBird

To: Peter Shute <>
Subject: The Atlas and eBird
From: Martin Butterfield <>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2015 06:26:29 +0000
There are also errors which creep in to Atlas data.  I remember in
particular noticing a record of Black Currawong in the Goulburn NSW area
some time back.  As I type the Birdata list for postcode 2620 (some rural
parts of the ACT and Queanbeyan NSW)  contains records for Red-winged
Parrot, White-browed Treecreeper, Red-browed Pardalote, and Yellow-throated
Scrubwren .  To my knowledge all of these are just about impossible in the
COG Area of Interest (roughly Cooma to Goulburn to Yass with Canberra more
of less central).   There are also a much larger of species that I don't
recollect ever being reported to COG from postcode 2620 - although have
been recorded once or twice in other parts of the ACT - and are thus just
about possible in the area.

My point is not to dump on the Atlas but to point out that in any huge data
set there are going to be a few outliers and its up to users to approach
them with caution!

Thinking about this and others matters to do with eBird and other data
systems in Australia birding led me to compile a rather lengthy blogpost
<http://eBird and other birding data> on the topic.


Martin Butterfield

On 18 June 2015 at 10:31, Peter Shute <> wrote:

> Because the observer names are recorded, there's probably nothing stopping
> researchers from excluding records from people who have entered what they
> consider to be incorrect ids, or only using records from people they
> consider to be reliable.
> Peter Shute
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Birding-Aus
> >  On Behalf Of
> > Mick Roderick
> > Sent: Thursday, 18 June 2015 8:09 AM
> > To: Graeme Stevens; 
> > Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] The Atlas and eBird
> >
> >
> > I think you've hit the nail on the head Graeme. It is more of
> > a recreational birders' tool and not one with any scientific
> > rigour for data analysis. I mean, it just can't be really and
> > I don't know if that has ever been its intention.
> > eBird is also very attractive to 'travelling' birders and I
> > am constantly seeing erroneous records appearing in lists. I
> > assume these are most often made by birders in unfamiliar
> > territory because it is often things like Corvids that get
> > misidentified. Just this week we've seen someone reporting
> > Masked Woodswallow from Sydney's Eastlakes Golf Course
> > (single bird in winter). I've seen this many times on other
> > eBird lists where the bird was obviously a Black-faced
> > Cuckoo-shrike. The same person has entered Olive Whistler and
> > Banded Stilt from Western Sydney in the past week. Clearly
> > they are misidentifications. In the Hunter I constantly see
> > Little Ravens reported from places I know only Aussie Ravens
> > occur. It must be very difficult for the very few moderators
> > to keep on top of it all.
> > I think the duplication of data issue has been discussed here earlier.
> > Yes, the BirdLife portal is currently being developed and is
> > advancing. Funding assistance has been provided from the NSW
> > Twitchathon funds from last year. As far as I know it is
> > still being decided how the eBird data will be used.
> > Mick
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