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A lot of birding happens in places where there is no internet connection.  Here are some of the BirdLog tricks I use to get the most out of offline checklists. Note that these same concepts apply on both Android and iPhone, but I've illustrated them below on iPhone.

The biggest pitfall to be aware of when creating offline checklists is to pay careful attention to capturing correct location information.  The reality of using GPS on an iPhone is that it often is accurate but can sometimes be off by large distances or not work at all.  See Tip #3 below for more information on this important topic.  But first ...

offline screenshotd_1

Tip 1: Use 'Recent Checklist' option

I take advantage of recent checklists A LOT!  Using recent eBird checklists can be a huge convenience when traveling out of cell coverage.  Using recent checklists allows you to use the actual eBird checklist (or something reasonably close to the actual checklist) when you have no connection rather than having to use the entire list of birds in North America (or whatever regional list appropriate for your birding expedition).  

If I know I will be traveling to a place without internet, one trick is to submit a dummy checklist for a location near there so that I can use recent checklists when I get there.   For example, on a recent trip to the eastern Mojave desert in California, I entered a dummy checklist for the "Zzyzx Interpretive Center" hotspot.   This eBird checklist is the same for all of eastern San Bernardino county, so when I created an offline checklist all I had to do was select "Use a Recent Checklist" and voila!  I was able to use the correct checklist for that location.  

Here's how to enter a dummy checklist: choose "Search for Hotspots by City" and find a hotspot near where you will be going.  Create a checklist that contains 1 common species or no species.  Set the protocol to "Incidental" and select "No" for all species reported.  Remember to go online at some point and delete this dummy checklist from you eBird account ... submitting the checklist means that it is now in BirdLog's memory on your phone!

 

offline screenshot_2

Tip 2: Use meaningful location names:

Entering place-specific names will make it easier to remember where you were and what you saw when you get home.

One example that happens a lot is that I'll be driving on a rural road and BirdLog will come up with a name for the location that is accurate (one hopes) but difficult to interpret if you happen to be a human being, such as "US-CA-Los Angeles 34.1342, -118.1435".  I try to change these locations to something that will be easier for me to remember, such as "US-CA-LA Hwy 2 mile marker 43.2"

Using good location names is also helpful to other eBird user and eBird reviewers who like to be able to know where the checklist is from without having to go look up the lat/lng.  I also find that when I'm managing my locaitons it is much easier to work with location names that are meaningful.

 

 

 

offline screenshot_3

Tip 3: Having trouble getting a GPS fix?  

Here's a trick: close BirdLog, open the maps program on your phone and give it time to find your location.  This app has sophisticated GPS software and if any app can find your location, this is it.  Note that this trick often works even when there is no internet: if the map displays a blue location dot, then it has your location.  Then switch back to BirdLog and the GPS location from the maps program will be in memory.  I use this trick a lot.

 

 

 

Tip 4: Turn on 'Airplane Mode'

Sometime when I'm in an area with spotty or very weak cell coverage BirdLog can get slow or behave inconsistently.  When this happens I switch my phone into airplane mode.  What this does is let BirdLog know that there is no signal, so it doesn't waste time looking for a weak signal or trying to download checklists.  It also saves my battery.


Article Permalink: http://www.birdseyebirding.com/index.php/blog/80-birdlog-tips-offline

BirdLog Survey Results

Thanks to all of you who contributed your time and effort to completing the BirdLog survey.  We appreciate it!

The following pages describe what we learned in more detail, and what we plan to do differently based on your feedback.

What We Hope To Learn

Our mission at Birds in the Hand is to increase the quantity and quality of data flowing into eBird especially in remote areas where there is a real data shortage.  The main goal of the BirdLog survey was to elicit feedback on how to prioritize our development to better accomplish this mission.

As an aside, we use a lot of great bird apps on our iPhones and Androids.   Sometimes we find ourselves thinking “This one aspect of the app just drives me NUTS!  Why don’t they fix it?”  We call those aspects of an app “pain points.”   Well, by conducting this survey we were hoping to learn what’s driving you nuts … so that we can fix those pain points and, we hope, help keep you out of the asylum a bit longer!

How We Did It

We wrote the survey and reviewed it with the eBird team.  We tested it on a small group and then sent it out to BirdLog users using an online tool called SurveyMonkey.   We sent a separate survey with different questions to eBird reviewers.  We received responses from over 520 BirdLog users and from about 25 eBird Reviewers, about half of whom are BirdLog users.

What We Found Out

BirdLog users as a group expressed some clear preferences for what improvements they want to see as our top development priorities:

  1. edit submitted checklists
  2. track checklist distance automatically
  3. better offline performance
  4. tools to report age, sex and other sighting details

Most BirdLog users report that they submit more checklists and that counts and effort data are more accurate as a result of using BirdLog.

Reviewers are pretty supportive of the app overall, but are concerned about two issues: 1) too few BirdLog users enter comments for flagged species; and 2) there may be a higher incidence of really whacky, super-rare and unintentional sightings submitted via BirdLog than via the eBird website presumably as a result of fat fingers and small text.  Taking steps to reduce the incidence of these errors them is important for maintaining eBird data quality.

Perhaps not surprisingly, reviewers who also use BirdLog have a significantly more positive view of the app and specifically its impact on data quality.  Over 90% of reviewers who use BirdLog have recommended it to eBirders in their area, while less than 10% of reviewers who have never used it recommend BirdLog.

What we’ll be working on

We have our work cut out for us!  We will be using the results of the survey and your ideas to guide our development efforts and as critical input to our product roadmap…er, flyway. 

The two main “pain points” where BirdLog users expressed dissatisfaction were:

  1. Choosing a location from a map
  2. Creating a new personal location

Since the survey we have been working hard to address these two main pain points.  We will be publishing an update to the iOS and Android versions of BirdLog in the next couple of weeks to provide some safeguards against erroneous reporting of super-rarities, improved offline performance and significantly better GPS accuracy.

NOTE: Two of the high-priority items raised by the survey, the editing submitted checklists and entering age/sex information, are difficult to improve because they require complex changes both to the app and also on the eBird server.  As a result, these changes will are not on our development list for this year.  However, we have some ideas for simpler changes that could at least partially address these issues.

We will also be conducting a similar survey for our BirdsEye users in the very near future.

Survey Data

iOS BirdLog User Satisfaction

iOS Users represented 70% of the survey respondents: 367 of 523 responses.

See the table below for a summary of overall satisfaction with various aspects of BirdLog.  The areas needing the most improvement are “Choosing a location from a map” and “Creating a new personal location”.  The strongest points of the app are the Entering Checklist information and Incrementing Bird Counts. 

Screen Satisfaction_Table

Here’s another way of summarizing this data:

satisfaction-chart

Action item: Since the survey, we have worked on improving location services, GPS performance and network connectivity that we hope will improve satisfaction with the two biggest areas of weakness identified in the survey: “Choosing a Location from a map” and “Creating a New Personal location”.

 

Top development priorities (iOS)

The top areas for development and new feature requests were ranked by iOS BirdLog users as follows.  As we plan our next development efforts we will use these priorities to help build our roadmap.

  1. Provide a way to edit submitted checklists through BirdLog
  2. Automatically track distance covered
  3. Better offline performance
  4. Provide a way to record age, sex, breeding information, etc.
  5. Provide a shorter "likely" lists based on actual frequency in your area

Other Suggestions from BirdLog users (combined for iOS and Android): 

Most of the people who took the survey also provided other suggestions.  We have captured all of your suggestions and included many in our development plans.  Each of these ideas is worthy of discussion, but for the sake of space I’ll just list them.  Note that we have not included all responses here, but just representative examples of the most frequently recurring comments, grouped into broad categories:

Great ideas!  We’ll get right on it:

  • The "Checked" tab is too close to Home and Cancel
  • Encourage better notes when an observer needs to confirm a sighting.
  • Newsletter with the latest updates and user tips?
  • Provide list of fixed bugs when a new version is released.
  • Better help within BirdLog; something that could be used offline.
  • The “Save" button is hidden by the keyboard. Reposition the "Save" button so that it always remains visible and accessible, and to reserve the "save confirmation" screen for when the user leaves the current list rather than at each and every save function.

Great ideas!  We will add this to our development queue, but these items will require a bit more work and/or involve trade-offs with other features, so it will take us a bit longer to figure out how to get them done.

  • Voice entry
  • Direct new users to 'how to' videos the first time they login with the app.
  • Better coordination of information between BirdLog, BirdsEye and eBird. – DB: This is obviously a pretty broad idea.  There are some quick and easy things we can and will do in this area.  Other aspects of this idea will take longer.
  • Ability to sort by time seen.
  • Synchronize BirdLog in iPhone, iPad and pc, there is no synchronizing at all with a same account.
  • Ability to change font size for bird names
  • Enable users to change location info prior to submitting.
  • View past lists by year/month
  • Ability to create a new list based on local hotspots.
  • Ability to type in a location and bring up a checklist for a certain area (e.g. for use in Airplane mode when outside US).
  • Easier off-line access to either select a location from, say, a text listing or to begin a generic listing using something like a state-wide listing.
  • Change the "time" setting from minutes to a more normal hour and minute entry.
  • Broader coverage of hotspots when searching for a location on map.
  • Ability to suggest new personal locations as hotspots.
  • How about a social/location sharing feature where you can (OPTIONALLY) see where your birding friends are currently birding (when/if they are nearby) on the Map display?
  • Add County lines to base map – DB: Wow cool idea, that would be really useful not to mention interesting!

Good ideas, but these ideas touch on eBird policy issues.  On these items we will defer to the decisions of the eBird team:

  • Use eBird for personal use, but keep my observations private and accessible only to Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Allow entry of birds without having to enter a count. Such as "x Wrentit", or even better, just "Wrentit".
  • Add unconfirmed sightings marker with notes about what was seen.
  • Ability to sort by time seen.

Other ideas that don't quite fit into any of the above categories:

  • Consider removing the auto-updating search results in BirdLog – We might be missing something here, but the Quick Entry bar is important functionality that many BirdLog users like, so we are hesitant to take it out.
  • Include banding codes after the bird name. – Bird codes are displayed if you tap on the bird and go to the comments section.
  • Ability to enter sightings at the county level – DB: we aren't sure about this one. A primary purpose of BirdLog is to make shorter and more accurate lists possible. Why not just create a checklist at your current location. The Trip Counter makes it easy (automatic, in fact) to keep a list for a day or multi-hour period from multiple checklists, so

Android BirdLog User Satisfaction

30% of our survey respondents are Android users: 158 of 523 responses

Android respondents emphasized the strength of BirdLog for Entering Checklist Information and Confirming Rarities.  Like iOS, Android users identified Choosing a Location from a map and Creating new personal locations as the biggest areas in need of improvement.

android satisfaction_table

android-satisfaction-chart

.

Top development priorities (Android)

android-dev priorities

As far as new features, priorities for the Android users are a little different, but the top 5 areas for improvement are the same, even though their rankings are different. Please note, the iOS ranking is shown in parentheses.

  1. Automatically track distance covered (2)
  2. Provide a way to record age, sex, breeding information, etc. (4)
  3. Provide a way to edit submitted checklists through BirdLog (1)
  4. Provide a shorter "likely" lists based on actual frequency in your area (5)
  5. Better offline performance (3)
  6. Automatically record GPS track during birding or record location of each sighting (7)
  7. View eBird life or year lists (6)
  8. Other (please describe) (9)
  9. Improve GPS performance (10)
  10. Link to photos and sounds
  11. Attach photos to sightings (from phone camera)
  12. Link to sightings maps
  13. Ability to share eBird checklists with others in your party (8)
  14. Add frequency bar charts for your area
  15. Provide better options for sending trip reports and/or sightings via email or Facebook

The eBird Reviewers

In addition to polling our general customers, an addition survey was sent out to a special group, the eBird Reviewers.  These are the folks who ensure the accuracy of sightings to eBird.  Since our mission for BirdLog is to support the eBird project and help to increase the number and accuracy of the sightings submitted, the feedback from this group is especially important to us.

Below is a summary of eBird reviewer's perspectives on how BirdLog checklists compare to web entry in various dimensions of data quality (Legend: 1 = clearly more errors/less accurate compared to web entry; 3 = about the same; 5 = clearly fewer errors/more accurate compared to web entry):


 

Non-users

BirdLog users

Species reported unintentionally

2.2

2.4

Location accuracy

3.1

3.3

Effort data accuracy

3.0

3.8

Species count accuracy

3.2

3.4

Species identification problems

3.3

3.6

 

Our goal is to improve in each of the data quality dimensions above over time.

Here is a summary of the responses and feedback from the eBird Reviewers:

  • How often do you use BirdLog yourself?
10 times per month or more 71.4%
I have never used it  28.6%
  • If you have used BirdLog, what platform(s) have you used it on?
iPhone 80.0%
Android 20.0%

 

reviewer accuracy_chart

    • From your perspective as a reviewer, what do you think should be the number one priority for improvement for BirdLog?
      • Location accuracy
      • Some way to help users enter a bird when the common name is not locally known
      • Encouraging comments for flagged birds
      • Online location editing and checklist editing

 

  • Is there a feature that we could add to BirdLog besides what you have already mentioned above that would make the eBird review process easier for you?
    • Ability to attach photos – “phonescoping” is used widely.
    • Default to a state or county list instead of the North American checklist when there is no/poor reception.

     

  • Either as a reviewer or as a BirdLog user, what is the biggest thing that you find irritating with BirdLog?
    • Location accuracy
    • Confirmation accuracy for offline checklist needs improvement.

BirdLog-Logo web

Today, Wednesday Aug 15, 2012, is the day that eBird and BirdLog will be performing our annual taxonomy update to reflect the new Clements/AOU taxonomy.  

This process should be essentially invisible to most North American BirdLog users, but there will be bigger changes in other parts of the world.  The change you are most likely to notice immediately is the new taxonomic order that puts Falcons and Parrots after the Woodpeckers.  You may also notice that your life list has increased by one if you have sightings for both Scripps's and Guadalupe Murrlets; and it will be reduced by one if you have only recorded sightings of Xantus's Murrelet, which is no longer considered a species by the AOU.  See our older posts for more information.

BirdLog stores a copy of the eBird taxonomy on your phone, which will be updated on our server today.  BirdLog automatically checks for new taxonomies every day, so it will automatically download the new taxonomy to your phone tomorrow morning or whenever you next use BirdLog.  If you want to check to see if the taxonomy has been updated correctly on your phone you can create an offline checklist using the full taxonomy and check to see if Guadalupe Murrelet appears in the list by typing "gumu" or "murrelet".  Note that this change will not appear on your phone until tomorrow (Thursday Aug 16).

You could see strange behavior today in eBird, so our recommendation is that you proceed with caution if you plan to be submitting checklists today ... or wait until tomorrow to submit your checklists for today.  eBird will be making a series of sequential changes today to move existing observation data to the new taxonomy. During this time, there may be times when the eBird website is not available or displays odd data.  However, don't worry, your eBird data is safe.

Note that eBird is also making substantial changes to the filters and confirmation limits this month, so it is possible that you could observe some strange behavior there.

Good Birding!

Carpodacus no longer

Although there has been much discussion of the murrelet split, there are some other changes to the eBird taxonomy that are interesting, particularly the changing understanding of the relationships of the falcons to parrots and passerines.   The new genus name for House, Cassin's and Purple Finches isn't really big news, but is a change to a familiar genus name.  

We follow the eBird taxonomy which is updated once per year in July or August. The eBird taxonomy is based on Clements, which is in turn based on the AOU for North America.  We plan to update BirdLog's taxonomy on your phone the same day that the change takes place in eBird's website.  Changing BirdsEye is a more involved process and we plan to make those changes in the next couple of months.  

Reordering of the Falconiformes and Psittaciformes:

Genetic evidence from a variety of methodologies suggests that caracaras, falcons, parrots and passerines are each other's closest relatives and, together with the extralimital Seriemas, form a clade (i.e. a monophyletic group).  (Ericson et al. 2006, Hackett et al. 2008).  

This result seems odd: falcons and caracaras bear obvious superficial resemblance to hawks, with which they were long presumed to be related.  It is now clear that those similarities are not a result of shared ancestry but rather to convergent evolution, perhaps as a result of early geographic separation of the groups.  Similarly seriemas were long thought to be related to the superficially similar cranes.  Passerines and parrots have long been considered to be unique and distinct groups, but researchers have been aware of their similar vocal aparatus and the fact that both groups often display learned vocalizations.

See Jeff Boyd's discussion of the evidence here: http://jboyd.net/Taxo/List12.html

  • The Falconiformes (caracaras and falcons) and Psittaciformes (parrots) will be inserted between the woodpeckers and the Passeriformes.

Changes in North American Genera:

Antrostomus split from Caprimulgus: Formerly merged with Caprimulgus (AOU 1983, 1998), but now treated as a separate genus on the basis of genetic data (Han et al. 2010).

  • Antrostomus carolinensis Chuck-will’s-widow, formerly Caprimulgus carolinensis
  • Antrostomus ridgwayi Buff-collared Nightjar formerly, Caprimulgus ridgwayi
  • Antrostomus vociferus Eastern Whip-poor-will formerly Caprimulgus vociferus
  • Antrostomus arizonae Mexican Whip-poor-will formerly Caprimulgus arizonae

Stellula merged into Selasphous: Formerly placed in the genus Stellula, but genetic data indicate that Selasphorus is paraphyletic if calliope is excluded (McGuire et al. 2007, 2009).

  • Selasphorus calliope Calliope Hummingbird, Stellula calliope

Thryophilus split from Thryothorus: Formerly merged with Thryothorus (AOU 1983, 1998), but now treated as separate on the basis of genetic data (Barker 2004, Mann et al. 2006), which indicate that the two genera are not closely related.

  • Thryophilus sinaloa Sinaloa Wren, formerly Thryothorus sinaloa

Artemisiospiza split from Amphispiza, formerly considered part of Amphispiza (AOU 1983, 1998), but genetic data (Klicka and Spellman 2007, DaCosta et al. 2009) indicate that the two genera are not closely related.

  • Artemisiospiza belli Sage Sparrow, formerly Amphispiza belli

Haemorhous split from Carpodacus: Formerly merged with Carpodacus (AOU 1983, 1998), but now treated as a separate genus on the basis of genetic data (Arnaiz-Villena et al. 2007, Lerner et al. 2011, Zuccon et al. 2012), which show that the two genera are not closely related.

  • Haemorhous purpureus Purple Finch, formerly Carpodacus purpureus
  • Haemorhous cassinii Cassin’s Finch, Carpodacus cassinii
  • Haemorhous mexicanus House Finch, Carpodacus mexicanus

Species-level changes:

  • Galapagos Shearwater, Puffinus subalaris, is split from Audubon's Shearwater.
  • Add Bryan's Shearwater, Puffinus bryani, based on the exciting discovery of this new species based on an old record from Hawaii.
  • Pluvialis apricaria added to the list of birds known to occur in the AOU and ABA areas.
  • Xantus's Murrelet is divied into two species: Scripps's Murrelet Synthliboramphus scrippsi and Guadalupe Murrelet Synthliboramphus hypoleucus.  
  • Gray Hawk, Buteo plagiatus, is split from extralimital Gray-lined Hawk, Buteo nitidus.

Species Name Changes:

These changes were minor this year, mostly reflecting adoption of IOC names for largely extralimital species.  There were a half-dozen other name changes for species in the Appendicies and/or outside of the ABA area.

  • The English name of Pavo cristatus changed from Common Peafowl to Indian Peafowl
  • The scientific name Porphyrio martinica corrected to Porphyrio martinicus, Purple Gallinule
  • The English name of Serinus canaria changed from Common Canary to Island Canary

http://www.aou.org/auk/content/129/3/0573-0588.pdf

What's  the Trip Summary?

Trip Summary is a new BirdLog (iOS only for now) feature that provides 3 species total counters that are updated in real time as you create your eBird checklists.  It's simple, but I'm finding it to be surprisingly useful and powerful for things like:

  • creating a summary species list for a multi-week trip to share with other trip participants
  • tracking your team's running species total in real time for a big day
  • creating a summary of the aggregate count for each species during a day of birding to print and put into my paper notebook
  • summarizing multiple eBird checklist during a pelagic trip

Some of my BirdLog-using friends were telling me, much to my chagrin, that they were hesitant to break a day of birding down into multiple checklists because they wanted to be able to track their running species total in real time.  Well, Trip Summary is intended to provide the best of both worlds by aggregating your lists into a single summary report.  This way you can create as many checklists as you want on a trip and easily keep track of your species total in real time.

The way Trip Summary works is simple: it takes all of the checklists that you have created via BirdLog (including those that have not been submitted yet) between and start time and an ending time and combines them together into a single list that you can view or share via email.  It also calculates a sum of all of the counts for each taxa.  We plan to enhance this capability over the next few months, and roll it out to Android. 

In this post I outline how to use the Trip Summary, including some less-obvious tricks like how to share a trip list via FaceBook.

BirdLog Trip Summary Basics:

BirdLog Trip Counter Options

Trip Summary is a simple but powerful tool that keeps track of three separate aggregate lists:

  • Today: a summary of all of the birds entered via BirdLog between midnight and midnight for the current date.  
  • Trip Summary: a summary all of the birds between a start and end date/times specified by you
  • All: a summary of all of the birds in all of your BirdLog checklists.

The "Trip Summary" is customizable, while the "Today" and "All" lists are automatically calculated and cannot be customized.  Note that only checklists that were created in BirdLog are included in these lists.  If you remove a checklist (by swiping across the name on the "My Sightings" page), then it will no longer be included in the counter totals.  Similarly, if you edit or delete a checklist via the eBird website these changes will not show up in your BirdLog Trip Summary.  

Note that the start time cannot be set to a time later than the end time and visa-versa!  If you want to change your start time to later time, you need to change your end time first.

If you change your end time to a time in the past, it will be fixed.  On the other hand, if you set the end time to the current time, then the end time won't be fixed, but will always be set to the current time.  This feature is useful when you want to keep running track of a trip and don't want to have to update the end time every time you check your trip list.

As a convenience, the Trip Summary total is displayed on the Home Screen next to the words "Trip Summary". Note that this value does not update automatically because doing so would slow things down too much. (We tested it ... it was irritating!)  To refresh the Trip Summary just tap on the Trip Summary or the little refresh button to the right.

 

Modifying the start and ending dates:

1) From the home screen go the "My Lists" page by tapping on "Trip Summary"

TripSummary sm 

2) On the "My Lists" page, tap in the middle section, which will be labeled "Trip Name" unless you rename it as I have below.  This action will take you to the summary page for the Trip Summary.  

Note that you can also tap on "Today" and "All" to see those summary lists.

 

BirdLog Trip Counter Options

3) On the "Trip Name" page, there are two dates at the top left and right below the "My Lists" and "Edit Title" buttons respectively, which display the start and stop times. Tap on the dates to set the start and/or stop times for the trip counter. 

Some notes on start and stop times:

The start time cannot be set to a time later than the end time and visa-versa!  If you want to change your start time to later time, you need to change your end time first and then change the start time.

If you change your end time to a time in the past, it will be fixed.  On the other hand, if you set the end time to the current time, then the end time won't be fixed, but will always be set to the current time. 

BirdLog Trip Counter Screen 

Editing the Trip Name:

If you choose you can rename the trip counter by tapping the "Edit Title" button.  This doesn't really serve much of a purpose other than to make the summary look a bit nicer and to give the list a meaningful name.  

BirdLog Trip Counter Screen Shot 2 

Emailing the Trip List to yourself or to Friends

You can email the list of birds by tapping the "Email Checklist" button at the bottom. That should bring up a window with a pre-formatted email summary of the list that you can edit and send.  Here's an example of what that page looks like on my phone:

BirdLog Trip Counter Mail List  

Emailing the Trip List to Facebook

You can use the email function to send a trip list to Facebook or to a discussion group.  All you need to do is use the right email address.  This functionality is ninja-level BirdLog / Facebook stuff, so just be aware that you'll be posting to your Facebook page and you should be careful about what you put there.  Your family and friends will see it so take a little extra time to get it right!

Facebook: see directions here: http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-20103506-285/update-facebook-status-via-e-mail/

You can use the same approach to forward reports to Yahoo or Google discussion groups: just email to the group email.  For example for the Yahoo Groups list for LA County Birds (which requires that you be a member to post);This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For me personally, I don't tent to post entire lists.  Still, this is a useful starting point for a post.  I can edit the summary to list only the more interesting birds which is a pretty convenient alternative to typing an entire email with my fat thumbs on an iPad Screen.

Enjoy!

We love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and ideas for improvement:

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Article Permalink: http://www.birdseyebirding.com/index.php/blog/61-trip-counter

BirdsEye Detail for Xantus's MurreletThis news just in from Marshall Iliff, eBird Project Leader:

Each summer the eBird taxonomy is updated to match taxonomic and nomenclatural changes made by the AOU over the past year. This update also corresponds with the Clements update, which captures many other changes around the world. The upcoming update is expected to include three species splits for North American birds:

Galapagos Shearwater is already recognized as a species as a split from Audubon's Shearwater

Gray Hawk is being split into Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus, Mexico to western Costa Rica) and Gray-lined Hawk (Buteo nitidus, central Costa Rica into South America).

Xantus's Murrelet is being split into Scripps's (how do you like that spelling?) and Guadalupe Murrelets.

Although the first two splits will be handled automatically by eBird, the Xantus's Murrelet split has the potential to cause eBird and eBirders some headaches and is described in more detail below.

Both new species, Scripps's Murrelet (S. scrippsi) and Guadalupe Murrelet (S. hypoleucus), are well covered in field guides. This split should come as no surprise as the two forms differ significantly in breeding ranges, plumage and calls. The non-breeding ranges for these two species overlap almost entirely, so eBird cannot update records automatically the way they have done in the past for splits such as Mexican vs Eastern Whip-poor-will or Pacific vs Winter Wren.

This time eBird users will need to do most of the work. Here's how it will work:

1) anything currently entered as "Xantus's Murrelet (scrippsi)" will become "Scripps's Murrelet" in August

2) anything entered as "Xantus's Murrlet (hypoleucus)" will become "Guadalupe Murrelet" in August

3) anything entered as just Xantus's Murrelet will be changed to "Scripps's/Guadalupe Murrelet" and so it will not count on eBird life lists, state lists, and county lists if it is the only entry. Ouch!

Click here to see your list of Scripps's, Guadalupe and Xantus's Murrelet sightings in eBird.  Note that if you aren't already signed in to eBird, you'll need to sign into see the results. Now is the best time for you to edit your eBird Life List for Xantus's Murrelet. If you know what you saw, please go in, open that list, and change the record to the correct subspecies. Please encourage your birding friends to do so as well. If you can post to your local listserv, please do that too.

Ideally eBird wants users to have all their records changed by early August, when our taxonomic update will take effect.

If you are interested in learning more about the distribution of these forms, check out the following links:

eBird map Scripps's/Guadalupe --http://ebird.org/ebird/map/xanmur

eBird map Scripps's --http://ebird.org/ebird/map/xanmur2

eBird map Guadalupe -- http://ebird.org/ebird/map/xanmur1 

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