As we get deeper into the fall we begin to say goodbye to some familiar feathers around our yards as species depart or begin preparing for their departures. Given this busy time of year, it can be difficult identifying locations to get a glimpse of either departing or arriving birds.
In the fall of 2013, eBird released their Hotspot Explorer tool that provides users with the ability to plan birding trips in a way never imagined before. This map-based tool allows you to easily navigate geographical areas across North America and quickly connects you with records from over 100,000 birders from around the world.
Simply pull up the tool (click here for access) and use the easy navigation controls by dragging the map to a particular location with the click of your mouse and then zooming in using the zoom feature on the right-hand side of the screen.
When a user zooms in, as we did in our hometown of Almonte in the above screenshot, a number of Hotspots are revealed. A simple click of these Hotspots reveals a quick pop-up summary of the information recorded for that particular region.
Take it to another level by clicking the “View Details” option within the pop-up and a new page will be revealed full of data summaries, rankings, checklists and a listing of all of the most recent sightings for that location.
As you continue to browse the results, you will notice that you can toggle between views of last seen, first seen, high counts and view a number of bar charts that quickly and accurately display the data in terms of the time of year each sighting was recorded.
The more familiar you become with the tool and the local hotspots, you can also easily search for specific locations using the handy search bar in the upper left-hand corner. Above all else, eBird was made by birders and for birders, so be sure to take part when heading out to a new location, especially one that you found using this unique tool. Top eBirders are listed for each location, can you make the list?