EBird, however, gathers and makes available 7-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day information about bird activity in local areas and entire regions. For birdwatchers, it can immediately alert them to a rare bird in their area. For scientists, the data can help them understand, among other things, how changes in the natural world — such as climate change and habitat destruction — are affecting bird populations.
Whether bird numbers are declining or increasing in an area may reflect our own situations.
“Birds can be ‘bio-indicators’ to help assess the health of our own ecosystems,” McNeal said last weekend at the monthly meeting of the Atlanta Audubon Society.
He serves as Georgia’s eBird coordinator, whose primary duty is to help assess accuracy in reports. For instance, he said, a report of black-capped chickadees in Atlanta will raise a red flag because Georgia’s only chickadee species is the Carolina chickadee.
EBird, he said, was slow at first to catch on, but it has become immensely popular. So far, some 145 million reports, or “checklists,” of bird sightings have been compiled in 169 countries.
And it is growing by leaps and bounds. In January, some 6,000 reports were submitted from Georgia alone.
For more information, visit www.ebird.org.
IN THE SKY: The moon, now a thin crescent low in the west at dusk, will "grow" to first quarter on Thursday (Feb. 6), said David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer. Venus is low in the east about 2 hours before dawn. Mars is in the east a few hours after dark. Jupiter rises out of the east just before dark and is visible all night. Saturn rises out of the east about midnight.