The Bird Wide Web™ is an independent, objective survey of birding resources available to anyone with an internet connection and an up-to-date web browser. Sites, apps, downloads, and other online offerings described here are all tested for the broadest compatibility with different devices and operating systems. Nothing on the web is perfect or guaranteed, but due diligence has been done, and suggestions for improvement to this site are always welcome.

August 2019


Part 1: The Data

Many experienced birdwatchers are familiar with the use of eBird[1] as a tool for collecting, reporting, and storing their personal sightings. Available either as a website or mobile app, designed and supported by the Cornell Lab of Orhithology, eBird has become the standard for amateurs and professionals alike. The eBird compiled data has also become an essential reference for many kinds of academic studies, both of bird behavior and of population dynamics.

Less familiar to many casual users, however, is the depth of "data-mining" which they are able achieve using the simple search tools eBird provides. For these purposes, no account, app, username, or log-in is required, just a browser and an internet connection. This is the "science" of the "citizen science" which volunteer eBird checklist reports has produced, brought to you free by Cornell. Enjoy!

A good place to start is with the Explore[2] pages. Although the first screen might seem a little daunting with all the choices, it's best to treat it like a gigantic buffet, and plan on taking a little of everything just to start. One way to not lose your place in all this wealth of info is to keep opening everything you click on in a "new tab". Browsers offer this choice with a control-click, right click, or press-hold on a mobile. This way, everywhere you've been is still there, so it's hard to get lost.

You could try the "Explore Species" option first, perhaps with a bird you recently saw for the first time. You'll not only get a photo, range map, and audio sample for the species, among other choices, but there's also a bar chart available for any region of your choosing. If you select where you saw your new bird, you'll have a good measure of how likely your sighting was at the time and place you made it. On that same page will be the opportunity to choose other regions where it might be found, or even other species.

Returning to the "Explore" page (hopefully waiting for you on another tab), you can select the region where you saw the bird, and find the most recent sighting reported of the species, with a link to the checklist submitted by that eBirder, which shows what else they saw, and how long they were there. It's from each of these millions of sightings reports that this entire scientific database is constructed!

Of course, there's much more. The eBird Science[3] (a Favorite) page lets you see in-depth anaysis of the all the data regarding your bird, from animated abundance maps to abstract habitat association charts for any given region. Although this level of study might be more suitable for trained ornithologists, it just shows us why our individual observations can be so cumulatively valuable. Plus, it's fun to try to make sense of what the experts are talking about. It helps explain why, if we do submit reports, our amateur field IDs are some times questioned. More about this issue next month when the checklist app is reviewed.


July 2019:

"Bird-friendly" Products

Description of online products which truly help birds in often unexpected ways.

June 2019:

Birding eBooks

Free eBooks on bird topics, where to get them, and how to read them.

May 2019:

ID Guides

Printable, downloadable pages and charts with bird species and families illustrated.

April 2019:

Bird Cams

Description of available online live streaming video of birds on feeders, nests and roosts around the world.

March 2019:

Naming That Song - II

Apps and online tutorials for learning bird songs at your own pace.

February 2019:

Naming That Song - I

Bird song recognition, using websites, mobile apps and searchable online audio collections.

January 2019:

Lists and "Listers"

Explanation of how birding email lists work, and how text-based "alerts" give more rapid notice of rarities.

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article each month.

Recent Favorites:

July 2019


May 2019


April 2019


March 2019


February 2019


January 2019


November 2018


See the full Collection