Annual eBird refresh adds more than 85 million observation records

Update to world’s largest citizen science dataset puts on the cusp of 1 billion species occurrences

Siberian Rubythroat (Calliope calliope) by Ian Davies
Siberian Rubythroat (Calliope calliope) © 2016 Ian Davies, used with permission, via eBird, the Macaulay Library and

Volunteer birders contributing data through Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird platform, have added nearly 85.6 million new observations, increasing the size of the eBird Observational Dataset (EOD) available through to more than 361 million records. The late-December publication of the annual EOD update also brought an emphatic close to 2017 for, as the global index of species occurrences edged closer to surpassing 1 billion records.

Alongside this year’s update, changes implemented by eBird and the GBIF Secretariat enable records to be attributed to the country of observation rather than including all eBird records in data publishing metrics from the United States, addressing an earlier anomaly. The enhancement gives users ready access to national totals and helps credit the in-country efforts to mobilize data by numerous members of the eBird network.

With this update, eBird now holds more than 1 million records for each of 17 countries—seven more than in the previous refresh (see table below). Observations from the United States, Canada and Australia remain at the top of the chart for national contributions. However, India has increased the number of available records by 50% over the previous year, topping 5 million observations thanks to the efforts of the Bird Count India initiative. This nudges India past Mexico as the fourth-largest national contribution to the global eBird dataset. Among these ‘millionaires’, only Spain (59%) surpassed India’s breakneck pace, though the growth of observations in Brazil (44.2%), Taiwan (43.6%) and Colombia (42.9%) trail by only a small margin.

Seasonally, April and May—springtime in the Northern Hemisphere—remain the peak time for eBird recorders and account for 22% of the total annual observations. But while North American totals still comprise 83% of the global dataset, the annual growth trends signal the increasing adoption of eBird outside North America.

Region Annual percentage increase (2017) Total number of records
Latin America & the Caribbean 72.3% 23,874,586
Asia 44.1% 9,578,490
Europe & Central Asia 37.2% 11,187,920
Africa 35.3% 3,212,017
Antarctica 32.5% 36,976
Oceania 26.6% 11,117,380
North America 18.5% 302,309,809

eBird is the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project. To date, it has enabled more than 360,000 volunteers—including professional ornithologists, recreational birders and citizen scientists—to submit sightings on more than ten thousand bird species. This update includes observations dated between March 1810 and 31 December 2016.

Countries, islands and territories with more than 1 million eBird records

Country Number of records in eBird Annual percentage increase (2017)
United States 267,173,895 20.34%
Canada 35,134,882 31.37%
Australia 10,128,363 26.55%
India 5,094,457 50.19%
Mexico 4,354,856 26.90%
Costa Rica 2,960,765 30.06%
United Kingdom 2,920,737 32.90%
Portugal 2,191,739 29.49%
Brazil 1,901,096 44.21%
Ecuador 1,678,546 26.63%
Spain 1,497,097 59.03%
Colombia 1,461,103 42.94%
Peru 1,416,993 30.66%
Argentina 1,387,689 39.84%
Panama 1,345,452 36.11%
Taiwan 1,038,002 43.64%
Chile 1,001,168 24.86%