The Atlas and eBird

To: Michael Ramsey <>
Subject: The Atlas and eBird
From: Peter Shute <>
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Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2015 11:13:52 +0000
There was a thread about birdata  a few weeks ago. Apparently, a programming 
error means results are being returned from a wider area than expected in 
postcode searches. I.e the base data is actually much better than the search 
results indicate.

However, the species distribution map does show a Black Currawong near Goulburn.

If the quality of the birdata data is good, but the user interface is lacking, 
perhaps the answer is to abandon the birdata interface for eBird, and get the 
eBird programmers to add a flag that can be set by a Birdlife Australia 
representative to indicate that a survey has been checked and approved by them.

Peter Shute

Sent from my iPad

> On 18 Jun 2015, at 7:46 pm, Michael Ramsey <> wrote:
> Agree with Martin here, some comments have been all about the inaccuracies if 
> eBird data. A 2 minute search of Birdata data today revealed White-throated 
> Honeyeaters, White-browned Treecreepers and Splendid Fairy-wrens in the 
> eastern suburbs of Melbourne, completely out of range. When or will ever this 
> inaccuracies be fixed by Birdata. They have been there at least 10 years to 
> my knowledge. At least eBird has a dedicated and passionate group of 
> reviewers that are consistently trying to ensure accurate data. Sure some 
> things slip through but in large it's pretty accurate. Birdata and the atlas 
> to remain clunky and old in technology terms. EBird has just released a new 
> app that is easy to use. Birdata and Birds Australia are not using a valuable 
>  resource here by not using Ebird data. Cornell use eBIRD it in the USA, why 
> can't Birds Australia?
> Michael
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On 18 Jun 2015, at 19:22, Martin Butterfield <> wrote:
>> 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
>> 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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