New eBird feature threatens to clog inboxes

Just today as far as I can tell, eBird launched a new feature that threatens to clog my inbox. It’s not enough that they already send out emails of recently reported ABA rarities and birds reported in Pennsylvania that I still don’t have on my life list. Now, you can also subscribe to these alerts on the county level. This is huge for me as I enjoy county listing even more than I enjoy boosting my state list. With 67 counties in Pennsylvania I could really reach email overload in no time, especially since there are about 15 counties I have yet to bird in.

Western Tanager - one of the species I'd like to see in my Needs Alert for Centre County this year. I'll be waiting...

Subscribing to the Needs Alerts to new areas is very simple. Simply start typing your state or county into the text box and your desired area should pop up. You can subscribe to as many areas as you would like, but I would highly recommend getting a Gmail account (what, you don’t have one?!) and filtering all the eBird alerts into a special label so that your productivity doesn’t grind to a halt.

Selecting a county for alerts

Once you have your areas of interest selected, you can set how frequently you want updates. The default setting is to send out an email each day, but for areas of special interest to you, you can subscribe to the hourly updates. As soon as someone reports a species that you have not yet logged, an email should be set out and bam, the chase is on.

Managing Needs Alerts

It will be interesting to see how people end up using this information. It definitely makes information available from the eBird database in a much quicker and more focussed format. It allows people to passively receive information rather than having to keep a close eye on the bar charts to find the new birds themselves. It will also be helpful to get reminders on which species you still need to find in a certain region, it’s sometimes easy to gloss over a common species that you are missing.

One addition I hope to see in the future is Needs Alerts for year lists. This would assist in boosting year lists, especially for those of use who have already built a reasonably large life list in our state or counties.