Make a Local eBird Checklist
Making an eBird checklist before taking children out on a bird count is a good idea for a couple of reasons. First, you can give the checklist out ahead of time so the kids (and you) can become familiar with the species you’ll potentially see. It also makes recording observations much easier if kids don’t have to figure out how to spell the birds’ names.
Because you can find different birds at various times of the year in your local habitat, it is important not to begin this process any earlier than a week or so ahead of the date you plan to use the checklist. To make a checklist of the birds you may see in your local area, whether it’s your home, a local park, or schoolyard, follow these easy steps.
1. Go to ebird.org
As you begin to type, a drop-down menu will appear. Select your county and state from the list and click on it. We are using Tompkins County where the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is located as our example.
If you live in a county with a number of distinct habitats (lakes, wetlands, forests, open grasslands), choose the birds from the overview list that are found in the area you will be birding. For example, the first 11 species listed for Tompkins County on March 2, 2015 are all waterfowl. If you are at a school in the southeast part of Tompkins County where there are no lakes, it is not likely you would see waterfowl in your schoolyard.
To determine where the species was sighted in the county, click on the date the species was seen. This brings you to the specific checklist that reported the species and shows the location of the checklist. If you aren’t familiar with the location, you can then click on the word Map to see where in the county (and in what habitat) the species was observed. You can also look up species in a field guide to determine in which habitat you are likely to see the bird.
6. Download our Bird Count Tally Sheet
Cut and paste the species from eBird you would like to include for your students into the Bird Count Tally Sheet.
7. Now, go outside and look for birds!
Here are some additional resources to help you when you’re outside with your students so you and your kids can take your birding to the next level.
Check out our blog Using eBird with Students to prepare for your bird walk.
Go more in-depth with eBird through our Most Wanted Birds kit.
Field Trip, No Bus Required: make your schoolyard a field trip getaway!
Outdoor Teaching Tips for taking youth on nature walks.
All About Birds, the Lab of Ornithology’s online bird guide.
Inside Birding video series on basic bird identification.