Christopher Wood

Assistant Director, Information Science; Project Leader, eBird

Expertise

eBird • Status and Trends • Migration • Species Distribution

Most of my time is focused on eBird, which has grown from a small traditional citizen-science project into a collaborative global enterprise. We have developed a novel approach to citizen science by engaging diverse communities interested in watching birds while developing partnerships with scientists in a wide variety of fields.

I work with diverse teams around the world—conservation biologists, quantitative ecologists, statisticians, computer scientists, GIS and informatics specialists, application developers, data administrators and expert birdwatchers— that has enabled eBird to reach a global audience.

eBird has become a major source of biodiversity data, increasing our knowledge of the dynamics of species distributions, and having a direct impact on the conservation of birds and their habitats.

I’m also a good point of contact for high school students interested in careers having to do with birds, and am active in the yearly Young Birders Event.

Spark Moment

After two years of carefully, if unsuccessfully, searching my 6 by 4 foot sandbox for dinosaur fossils, I put up a bird feeder in my backyard in Morrison, Colorado. Soon after, a stunning bird appeared on the feeder that I had never seen before. I looked through various bird books and found the bird: an Evening Grosbeak. I was hooked. I decided I wanted to see all the birds in the book. While I have succeeded in seeing the 200 birds in this backyard bird guide, I acquired hundreds more books and am still trying to see as many of them as I can. These days, I’m almost as interested in finding a new “patch” bird at Monkey Run in Ithaca, New York, as I am in seeing new birds. And I’ve never really given up on the dinosaurs—I just focused on their closest living relatives.

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Red-winged Blackbird photo by Ron Riley/Macaulay Library