By Kathi Borgmann | March 3, 2020
What do you get when you combine what bird-watchers observe with what satellites see from space? Something spectacular.
The eBird program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology just released 500 animated maps spanning the entire Western Hemisphere. The maps show in fine detail where hundreds of species of migratory birds travel, and how their numbers vary with habitat, geography and time of year.
“Building upon more than 750 million observations submitted to eBird provides a whole new way of seeing biodiversity,” said Steve Kelling, co-director of Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab. “Now, we not only have an idea of where to find a bird, but where that bird is most abundant as well. The detail and information in the animations is breathtaking.”
eBird is the largest biodiversity citizen science project in the world.
To create these new visualizations, the eBird science team used five years of observations from 179,297 bird watchers across the Western Hemisphere. They combined human observations for 610 species with NASA satellite imagery of land cover, land use and water, along with nighttime light data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These visualizations are striking, but they’re much more than eye-candy.
“The detailed information coming from observations submitted by bird watchers around the world is a game changer,” said Amanda Rodewald, the Garvin Professor and co-director of the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab. “These new data products show week to week where species occur, and this type of spatial and temporal information helps guide more flexible conservation solutions that can more readily accommodate human and ecological needs.”