We’re happy to announce the launch this week of eBird Centroamérica, a regional Internet portal providing birders, scientists, and the general public with open access to the worldwide eBird database. eBird is a citizen-science project collecting bird observations to document spatial and temporal patterns in bird distribution. Central America is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with about 1,160 species of birds. eBird already includes 2 million observation records for the 7 countries of Central America, submitted by eBird users since the database was created in 2002. The rapidly growing database now contains more than 138 million records for birds around the world with some records dating back to 1800.
The Central American portal is fully bilingual (Spanish and English). It features news articles and other features prepared for local birders in Central America. These articles highlight new discoveries and regional trends. Tips are provided on when and how to look for birds. The portal aims to be an online information source for the growing birding communities of Central America.
eBird has already profoundly increased knowledge of bird distributions in Central America. eBird users can examine range maps in a variety of formats for every species, at any spatial scale, and for specific time periods. This means that you can see where birds were reported this last July, or every July in the last 100 years. Unlike traditional range maps, eBird maps demonstrate frequency of occurrence, a measure of relative abundance, and are updated every day. The data are reviewed and verified by expert birders based in each country of Central America.
Users can also access species lists from hundreds of sites of interest, such as parks and protected areas throughout Central America. As with the range maps, the site lists are updated daily. Each species on one of these lists is accompanied by graphs that illustrate its seasonal occurrence (relative abundance) at the site. Users can access all of this for free.
The Central American eBird team includes Liliana Chavarría (Nicaragua), Jan Axel Cubilla (Panama), John van Dort (Honduras), Knut Eisermann (Guatemala), Lee Jones (Belize), Roselvy Juárez (El Salvador), Oliver Komar, Darién Montañez (Panama), and Jim Zook (Costa Rica).
(Image: Emerald Toucanet by Oliver Komar)