eBird update pushes records in GBIF over 500 million

The annual update of the eBird Observational Dataset (EOD) has pushed the number of occurrence records published through GBIF past half a billion.

eBird, run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO) and the National Audubon Society, is a vast collection of high-quality observations collected by professional ornithologists, recreational birders and citizen scientists alike. With the addition of more than 50 million records in the latest refresh, the database now shares over 150 million bird species occurrence records through GBIF.

"The goal the Lab has always had with eBird is to provide open access to all data gathered by eBird participants," said Steve Kelling, director of information science. "We emphasize data management strategies that will ensure a persistent archive and easy access of raw data or visualizations of that data. We also recognize that both birds and eBird are just one part of the larger biodiversity landscape. The eBird team has always viewed GBIF as the leader in this endeavor to make biodiversity data accessible, and we are excited that we can play a role in contributing observations to GBIF."

CLO has worked closely with DataONE and VertNET to create an efficient process for providing open access to eBird data through GBIF and other institutions and channels. Each year, eBird developers update EOD through DataONE, providing data that identify all dates and locations where observers have recorded occurrences of birds worldwide. VertNET then generates a Darwin Core Archive version of the EOD dataset, the standard format for publishing data through GBIF.org.

Through GBIF.org, users can view the entire EOD dataset, including a map visualization, or else search, filter and download a selected subset of the records. Data can be filtered by numerous criteria including taxonomic classification, location and date, so it’s very easy to select segments of a dataset that align with research needs or interest—for example, the 3,500 eBird observations of Strigiformes (Owls) in Brazil or Argentina since 2010. All datasets published on GBIF are likewise accessible through a thoroughly documented API that supports the same kind of data search and filtering.

Noteworthy facts about eBird

  • CLO releases eBird data in the EOD format annually.

  • The time span of the EOD’s current release is from March 1810 to 31 December 2013.

  • eBird data have now been collected from all countries and have recorded the occurrence of more than 98% of the World’s species of birds. View EOD on this map from GBIF.org.

  • To date, over 120 peer-reviewed publications have used eBird data. There have been over 6500 data requests in the last 18 months.

  • Users have downloaded the EOD (or portions thereof) nearly 6,000 times through GBIF.org.

  • Data contributions have grown exponentially since eBird’s inception in 2002. Although it took ten years to gather the first 100 million records (in August 2012), the trend suggests that in two years eBird will exceed 200 million records, making it both one of the world’s largest and fastest growing biodiversity datasets.

  • eBird contributors have volunteered more than 14.5 million hours while collecting bird observations.