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[Solved] Results from eBird Worldwide Sightings Search


Posts: 5
Topic starter
(@rlsiebert)
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago

I have filters set for Notable Sightings Only and Species only.

Also have checked "Only Show Sightings That Would be Lifers" with my state listed for location.

But I still see a list of sightings that begin with **.  These include hybrids and birds identified according to subspecies. Only 1 'species' is appearing.

Although interesting, these would not be lifers and are certainly not "Species Only".

Not sure why I am seeing this unexpected data.

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7 Replies
Posts: 234
Admin
(@jeff)
Member
Joined: 10 months ago

Hi Randy,

Can you please attach a screenshot so I can see what settings you are using? I want to see the data eBird is returning for your settings.

Also, right after you click the Search button, the URL is copied to the Windows Paste buffer. So, right after you click Search, come back here and Paste (Ctrl+V) into your reply so I can see the URL. It will look like this...

https://ebird.org/ws2.0/data/obs/MX-NAY/recent/notable?cat=species&dist=30&back=16&hotspot=false&key=xxxxxxxx&includeProvisional=true&detail=full

This will help me answer some of your questions.

Thanks,

Jeff

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Posts: 5
Topic starter
(@rlsiebert)
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago
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Posts: 234
Admin
(@jeff)
Member
Joined: 10 months ago

Thanks Randy. Very helpful.

I can now give qualified answers.

  1. I have now tested the raw API interface with category=species and it indeed returns non-species sightings. Don't know what, but that is on eBird and their API. For example, if you expand the Common Name column you will see that this is what is returned for Northern Flicker.
    image

    You can see that the common name is not that of a species, even though the sciName does only include genus+species classification.

  2. Why the "**" in the returned list. If you do not ask for Only Lifers then you do not get this in the Name column. However, when you ask for Only Lifers, I check for a Lifer based on common name returned, Observer and Location. But, if this common name does NOT appear in your Clements list, then you get the "**" designation and it gets added to the list (err on the side of caution here; perhaps the functionality should be different).
    image

So, this answers your questions as to what you are seeing. Why the eBird API returns non-species when species are clearly designated in the call to the API, I don't know. My guess is that this is unintended behavior from the eBird API. Or maybe not. As the sciName indicates only genus+species.

Should I make adjustments to the BD-eBird interface and exclude those names returned that are not found in your Clements taxonomy. I think so now. 

More on this. I now see that eBird as changed their API. Specifying Notable no longer allows for Species Only. You get all Notable.

Let me dig into this some more and make some updates based on API changes. eBird makes changes often and does not notify anyone that I am aware of.

Stay tuned.

Jeff

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Posts: 5
Topic starter
(@rlsiebert)
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago

Jeff,

Thanks for the detailed explanation.

I always find myself laughing at what gets returned as 'Notable'. I see Red-tailed Hawks show up frequently. And currently a Rock Pigeon is on my list from a nearby city (along with the RtHa).

I would love to understand the criteria used, but I doubt that anyone can answer it.

Sort of like when I enter "1 bb" in the eBird app and get "American Pipit" as the top choice of species.

Randy

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Posts: 234
Admin
(@jeff)
Member
Joined: 10 months ago

Hi Randy,

Also, just found out that if you specify Notable then all forms get returned; e.g. hybrids, slashes, SPUHs, subspecies, etc.

I am correcting the interface so that it is obvious that when you select Notable, that the 3 option buttons for Species, etc get disabled.

So that also explains why you are getting the hybrids, slashes etc.

I don't know their definition of Notable either, however, if you are looking for possible Lifers for you being seen in CO, then don't check Notable or Hotspots Only. Then you will get a true Hit List for Lifers being seen in CO.

Update coming with a few updates/changes on this.

Jeff

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Posts: 234
Admin
(@jeff)
Member
Joined: 10 months ago

Randy et al:

Build 42 is now available - Help | Internet: Check for a program update from within the BD program. Or go to the Downloads page here.

  • If you choose Notable then the Category radio buttons (Species, etc) are disabled, as the eBird API ignores that setting when Notable is chosen and all Notable sightings that match the other criteria are returned.
  • If you choose Lifers Only, then non-matching names returned from the eBird API are removed from the list instead of adding "**" to the name and keeping them in the list. But eBird only returns the spuhs/hybrids/etc if you choose Notable. So, better off not using Notable for a Lifer check anyway.

Let me know if anything else comes up.

Jeff

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Posts: 5
Topic starter
(@rlsiebert)
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago

This feature now works much better now that I understand which setting to use. Before it was giving me far too many sightings that were not useful.

Thanks for doing the research and solving the problem.

Randy

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