Explore the map above to learn how land trusts from all over the country are utilizing eBird to expand their reach, inform conservation plans, and build land trust capacity. Below you’ll find a more detailed description of how each land trust is using eBird to push their strategic conservation goals forward.
Hotspots are public birding locations created by eBird users. Hotspots allow multiple birders to enter data into the same shared location, creating aggregated results available through eBird’s “Explore” tools. Hotspots are a great tool to engage local birders on protected properties while simultaneously gathering important bird data that can help inform habitat management decisions.
One land trust using eBird Hotspots is the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust (SRLT) in Maine. SRLT has seven properties currently listed as birding hotspots. Jennifer Irving, Executive Director of SRLT, says, “As a small land trust that is not well known in the area, we use eBird to help raise awareness and garner support for our work.” Getting people involved is the first step in producing engaged members and donors, leading to further conservation and increased funding. Read more about how the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust has leveraged eBird to contribute to their success.
eBird has the potential to connect community members with land trust properties and conservation projects, which can help mobilize the community to both care for and help protect the landscape and the wildlife that inhabits it.
Central Colorado Conservancy (CCC) has a program that uses volunteer data from eBird to monitor Lewis’s Woodpecker, a bird of riparian areas that has declined by about 82% since 1966, and is listed as a species of greatest conservation need in Colorado’s State Wildlife Action Plan. CCC used eBird to help make a connection between engagement and on-the-ground conservation. Past Executive Director of CCC, Andrew Mackie, says “I really liked this program because it was a direct connection between people and conservation action. Community scientists went into the field and collected data using eBird, then our organization put that data to use. We can now use this information to make decisions and talk to landowners about protecting and managing property, which is actively contributing to the conservation of a species.” Learn more about how Central Colorado Conservancy is using eBird to advance their conservation work through community engagement.
Great Works Regional Land Trust (GWRLT) in Maine held a free community bird identification series to introduce families and individual community members to bird watching across 20 GWRLT preserves. They paired these events with eBird tutorials for volunteers and community members to ensure individuals were able to submit and share their data, not only from group outings, but also individually as they take to bird-watching on their own. eBird is helping GWRLT to foster a sound conservation ethic as well as positive stewardship values and attitudes, with the hope that community members will take their knowledge home and practice positive stewardship behaviors in their own life and backyard.
In their project, “Bird and Hike with Salem Land Trust”, Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC) proposes to provide opportunities for guided birding and hiking to communities of color on Salem Land Trust (SLT) properties. Community events include hikes that will utilize eBird checklists to introduce participants to common birds found on SLT properties and an eBird workshop aiming to empower the community in collecting data where they are. CLCC and SLT’s project recognizes the barriers to accessing the outdoors that many people and communities of color face. Their project is a recognition of the work that needs to be done and the opportunities land trusts have to create a more welcoming and inclusive conservation landscape. “We are delighted to implement this project with the vision of engaging communities of color across Connecticut and increasing the relevance of land trusts to these communities,” says CLCC’s Project Specialist, Yaw Owusu Darko. As CLCC moves forward with this project we will provide updates.
Many land trusts choose to engage the community through larger-scale events, such as Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) in Washington and Kennebec Estuary Land Trust’s (KELT) in Maine. CDLT hosted a Spring Bird Festival on two of their properties as a means of connecting with community members and gathering data used to study response to management practices. The festival’s walking routes were turned into monitoring trails with trail markers made by local high schoolers indicating count locations. KELT hosts an annual Birding Extravaganza led by local birders that explore different topics. The May 2022 Birding Extravaganza was lead by a local bird expert and focused on “modern birding”, or using birding apps like eBird, Merlin, etc.
In 2022, eBird Training mini-grants of $500 were awarded to eight Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCPs) to host workshops that train participants how to use eBird, a virtual community science platform and database for documenting bird observations. The goal of the mini-grants is to empower RCP leaders to train their partners to use eBird effectively for land conservation within their respective landscapes thereby creating an ambassador network to promote the effectiveness of this birding tool for conservation, monitoring, and community engagement. These grants were awarded through the Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative (NBHCI) as a part of a broader funding effort by the group to train RCP leaders to use eBird data and bird-friendly forestry techniques, and to support partners with effective management implementation on ecologically important forests, grasslands, and farmlands for at‐risk bird species in the Northeast. Learn more about the eBird mini-grant awardees.
Tall Timbers (TT) used eBird to fill distribution gaps of birds occupying Florida and Georgia private conservation lands for at least ten bird species listed in both states’ State Wildlife Action Plans. Audubon volunteers conducted site visits and taught landowners how to use eBird. eBird checklists and photos were used to document each of these visits to create baseline data that will inform best management practices at each unique property. eBird allowed TT to empower landowners to document what they saw on their property while quickly getting that data into the hands of ornithologists.
Monitoring and Community Science
Several land trusts have used funding from our Small Grant Program to establish a monitoring protocol and invite community members to become trained community scientists who collect bird population observations and data. Community scientists increase land trust’s monitoring capacity at their protected private properties.
At Wood River Land Trust (WRLT) professional biologists from Intermountain Bird Observatory trained community scientists and WRLT staff in how to set up biologically appropriate bird surveys, record data in eBird, and identify bird species of interest. The goal is to use community science eBird data to help strategically guide their conservation and restoration planning efforts. This past spring WRLT partnered with Boise State University (BSU) to host a Community Science Bird Surveying in which eBird-trained volunteers participated in surveys multiple times throughout migration and breeding seasons.
Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) used eBird to expand its existing community science efforts, including the creation of an ‘adopt a preserve’ program and bird monitoring events. The ‘adopt a preserve’ initiative allows volunteers to sign-up to monitor birds at a specific KELT preserve throughout the year and participate in specific conservation projects. This not only builds the capacity of KELT through long-term volunteer engagement, but also encourages community scientists to form connections with the land. In addition, the consistency of bird monitoring at adopted preserves provides KELT with a robust source of data to inform habitat management efforts and land protection projects. Learn more about how KELT is using eBird to strengthen monitoring protocols.
Assess and Evaluate Management
eBird can serve as a tool for land trusts to assess pre and post habitat management activities by monitoring which birds are present on the parcel or not.
After a 2017 wildfire swept through Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (CDLT) reserves and reduced the dense, shrubby thickets of elderberry, wild rose, and snowberry that nesting neotropical migratory songbirds rely on to stubble, CDLT decided eBird would be the best tool to monitor forest health improvement from post-fire management activities. To do this, CDLT invited volunteers to join staff on monthly eBird project surveys at two reserves affected by the fire. CDLT has a Community Science page where volunteers can find all needed field forms and maps. Using funds from our 2022 Small Grant Program, CDLT is expanding volunteer eBird monitoring to another property affected by a wildfire that decimated Sage Grouse habitat. Learn more about how CDLT utilizes eBird as a tool for post-fire adaptive management practices.
Natural Lands (NL) habitat improvement work involved a prescribed burn and other silvicultural practices such as overstory removal, shelterwood harvests, and group tree selection to create early successional habitat and a mixed-age forest for three bird species in decline: Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, and Ruffed Grouse. NL used eBird to develop a monitoring program to track the success of these management actions by assessing bird diversity and monitoring for the presence and abundance of the project’s target species. Preserve Manager Josh Saltmer says, “This grant will help us learn which silviculture methods lead to bird population increases at the preserve. We can then share that information with other land managers and conservation organizations.” Learn more about their project.
Sonoma Land Trust (SLT) will use eBird to assess woodland birds as an indicator of ecosystem health within forest treatment units on four conservation properties being managed for wildfire resiliency. Breeding season survey data will be collected and entered into eBird to help evaluate avian response to management and compare results to baseline surveys within forest treatment units to determine species richness and abundance, with a focus on special-status or indicator species. SLT will also use the eBird species profile mapping tool to determine where indicator species have been sighted in each forest treatment unit. Project findings will help land managers monitor the health of forest ecosystems under shaded fuel break, prescribed fire, and restoration forestry management for ecological goals and wildfire resilience. As fuel reduction treatments increase and proliferate across Northern California in response to the growing threat of wildfire, there may be valuable lessons to learn from this study that can help communities manage forests and maintain healthy bird populations.
Using eBird data can be a great way to prioritize the use of limited conservation dollars on the landscape. Land trusts can overlay eBird data with other strategic conservation mapping layers to discover which parcels have the highest stewardship potential.
Sierra Foothill Conservancy (SFC) is using eBird Raw Data (EBD) to inform their Working Lands Conservation Strategy. SFC writes, “eBird is an ideal tool for understanding bird species occurrences, and particularly valuable in areas such as the Sierra foothills and San Joaquin Valley where private property is more common and species survey data can be challenging to source. eBird can also provide valuable public recreation co-benefits information based on the number of users reporting data in a particular area.” Moreover, EBD provides the most comprehensive data on bird species occurrences across a range of spatial scales. SFC incorporated EBD from their service area counties (Mariposa, Madera, Merced, and Fresno) into their GIS land prioritization mapping tool. Their Landscapes Most Impactful for Co-Benefits category now includes a layer called Avian Occurrences, which allows a user to view the point count data of species within each service county. The Working Lands Conservation Strategy “serves as a tangible tool for SFC’s Land Conservation team to assist in the standardized identification and prioritization of prospective agricultural conservation easements that most embody and provide benefit to the Sierra Nevada foothill region.”
Decision Support Tool
Not sure what to write for this blurb without sounding redundant from the previous one?
The Northeast Bird Habitat Conservation Initiative has created an easy to use, interactive mapping tool using eBird data to help Regional Conservation Partnerships, land trusts, and practitioners use birds as tools to support activities such as habitat management plan and stewardship development, land prioritization and acquisition strategies, and landowner and community engagement, all through the lens of bird conservation.
This product showcases eBird Status & Trends (S&T) breeding season data for 43 bird species in five habitat types: forest, grassland, shrub/scrub and young forest, wetland/marsh, and coastal/shoreline, and projects these data as GIS layers. The target species were selected based on their high priority status or climate vulnerability. The map includes strategic land conservation data layers, such as The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Resilient and Connected Landscapes Climate data, TNC Protected Open Spaces, and Audubon Important Bird Areas that can be overlaid with eBird data to help inform land planning and bird habitat conservation efforts. A user can also download the S&T data to add into preexisting GIS and land prioritization projects to help support the best use of limited conservation dollars.