- Yard Lists in the UCR--The eBird Approach (modified from 2014 Blog)
One of the more charming features of eBird is the so-called Yard List, a function that enables users of eBird to report the birds that show up in their yards. A related function is known as the Patch List, which allows eBird users to report the birds located at sites larger than the typical yard and/or sites that are within the public domain. Some overlap in these functions probably takes place, depending on how large a "yard" or how small a "patch" is being surveyed by eBirders using one or the other of these listing functions.
The eBird program keeps track of users' yard (and patch) lists by month, year, and life; it also places each user within a queue of such users so that you can know where you fall within each monthly, yearly, and "lifely" queue both in terms of the number of species reported and the number of complete lists submitted. Furthermore, each user can find his or her rank within an entire country, state/province, and county (or whatever the subunits used within a given country might be).
I maintain a yard list, but so far no patch list, though I suspect I will begin to do that at some point in the near-term future. The habitat within my 2.5-acre yard is diverse, so the array of species that I can detect each day is probably fairly high compared to the average eBird yard.
My yard list is based on four types of check-lists that I have submitted. One type of check-list is a general yard survey that can entail either a complete or an incomplete list of species detected on a given day; the check-list can be for just a few minutes, for the entire day, or anywhere in between; I have been submitting this type of yard check-list occasionally for many years. Another type of check-list I submit for my yard is of more recent vintage (i.e., since November 2011); this type of check-list is for a 30-minute survey of the yard, initiated before or by 1000 CST/CDT; this survey covers a path around the periphery of my yard that is about 300 meters long; I usually do 1 to 2 loops around this path during the half-hour survey. The protocol that I choose for this type of check-list is an area survey rather than a travelling survey, but either would probably work for what I do. A third survey type I conduct in the yard is a stationary count, usually centered on the deck on the east side of the house; this survey lasts 1 hour. A fourth type of yard survey is like the 30-minute survey except that it last only 15 minutes and usually involves 1 circuit around the yard.
When I submit a check-list for a 30-minute survey of the yard, I usally include in the Comments section of the check-list several sets of information, as follows.
First, I identify each check-list by a number. My short-term goal is to have a 30-minute check-list for each day of the year, totalling 366, all numbered and all completed during a 5-year period (November 2011 to October 2016). Once that batch of 30-minute check-lists is complete, I may start a second batch, but not sure about that yet.
Next, I provide weather data for the survey; eBird does not yet, shamefully, request weather data for its check-lists, but the better birder will always provide this information.
Last, I include in the Comments section a list of all species detected during the survey and where each was located in or near the yard; other data may also be included, such as age and/or sex when such info was obtained, whether the bird was heard rather than seen and whether the acoustic i.d. was by call or song, plus any interesting behavior noted, etc.
I conducted Yard eBird 15-Minute Surveys # 398-401 this morning.