eBird: Exploring eBird Data

Even if you’re not an eBird contributor (someone who reports their birding results to the eBird data base), you can still explore much of eBird’s data, especially where to find a particular species in a given area. To see a list of birds at a birding “Hotspot” (the definition of which can be found here), you will have to register with eBird. In either case, begin at eBird.org. Then click on the “View and Explore Data” tab near the top of the page.

A. To explore an interactive range map by species or subspecies, click on Range and Point Maps.

1. A page showing a world map will then open. You have a number of view options noted along the right margin, but for our area, leave it as Terrain, the default view.

2. At the top of the world map, type in the bird species name in the “Species” box at the top of the page. You’ll notice that as you begin typing in the species name, possible bird species will start to appear in a drop-down list. When you see the species you want, you can simply click on it.

3. To the right of the Species box is a “Date” option. The default is “Year-Round, All Years” but you can choose other options by clicking the “Date” box to reveal these other options:

Year-Round, Past 10 Years

Year-Round, Current Year


Custom Date Range… where you select various month and year options.

If you’ve made one of these other date range selections, click the green “Set Date Range” button when you’re done.

4. To the right of the Date box is the “Location” box. For our area, start to type Coto Brus and the option “Coto Brus, Jabillo, Puntarenas, Costa Rica” will appear in the drop down list (only Coto Brus, Jabillo, Puntaren will be visible). Click on it. The map will then zoom in fairly closely on a terrain map showing Coto Brus and Jabillo among other place names.

5. Next you need to zoom OUT a bit to bring into view the possible places where the species you’ve chosen may have been reported; so click on the “minus” end of the vertical + (plus) – (minus) scale in the upper left corner until some blue and/or red place markers begin to appear on the map. Click on these markers to access the sightings and checklists at that particular location. (As the legend in the lower right corner of the map window indicates, RED markers are “recent”, BLUE markers are OLDER (30+ days). The larger markers with a flame in the middle are “Hotspots”.)

6. You’ll notice that when your cursor is hovering over the map it will be shaped like a hand. You can move the map around by clicking-and-holding on any part of the map that’s NOT a marker and dragging the map to whatever area you’re interested in.

7. If there are markers in a given area that overlap, simply zoom IN closer so that the markers become more distinct from one another and easier to select. (To zoom IN, click on the plus + button on the zoom scale.)

B. If you’re interested in finding a whole list of birds for a particular area rather than searching species by species, the best approach is to start back on the “View and Explore Data” page and click on All Observations under “Summary Tables” in the lower right corner. HOWEVER, to access this feature of eBird, you have to have an eBird “account”.  If you’re not already signed in, when you click on All Observations, the Sign In page will open. If you’re not registered (i.e., don’t have eBird user name and password), click on Register Now and follow the instructions. (Having an eBird “account” does not cost anything and allows you to start reporting your own bird sightings and your own personal bird lists if you want.) If you already have eBird credentials and aren’t already signed in, enter your user name and password and click the “Sign In” button. The steps below assume you have logged in to eBird.

1. After clicking All Observations, a page opens where you “Select a Report and Date”.

2. Choose the type of report you’d like to create (Week, Month, or Year) and the “starting on” date. Be aware that the default is Jan 1 of the current year.

3. Ignore the “Bird Conservation Regions that I choose” option and select Costa Rica in the list of countries (the first drop-down list), then Puntarenas in the second drop-down list.

4. Your final choice is “Entire Country or State/Province” or “Hotspots”. (The “Counties” option is greyed out and not available.) We recommend you choose Hotspots. (If you choose “Entire Country or State/Province”, the resulting data will probably not be that useful to you.)

5, When you select Hotspots, a drop-down list will appear of the “Hotspots” in Puntarenas province. The “Hotspots” in our area are as follows, with those in bold the ones we recommend most:

Bosque Rio Negro

Jardin Botanico Wilson

La Gamba

OTS Las Cruces Biological Station


San Vito–aeropuerto y lagunas San Joaquin

ZP Las Tablas–Amistad Lodge

Zona Protectora Las Tablas

6. Select one of these Hotspots and click the Continue button.

7. A page will then open after a moment of calculation with the results for the date range and place you chose. If there don’t happen to have been any reports (“Checklists”) for the period, the results will be nil and you’ll have to go back and select a different date range (see 10. below).

8. When you have a useful report, note the various tabs: “High Count”, “Abundance”, “Frequency”, Group Size”, and “Species Totals”. You can see the sighting data presented in various ways depending on the tab selected.

9. You can print a version of the report (click on “Printable version”) or “Download this report” to your computer.

10. To start over with different parameters, click your browser’s “back” button. (If you click on the “<< back” link on the results page, you’ll be taken all the way back to the “View and Explore Data” page which is rather annoying.)