eBird Wins Award

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Birders at Lake Runnemede last fall. / © Cindy Crawford

eBirders at Lake Runnemede last fall. / © Cindy Crawford

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is pleased to announce that its first Leon Levy Award for Innovation in Bird Conservation has been presented to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in recognition of its eBird program, a widely-used citizen-science-driven bird database that enables sophisticated mapping and analysis of bird distributions that support conservation planning and decision-making.

“eBird is a game changer in the field. It enables site-specific and time-specific strategies to enhance bird conservation,” said American Bird Conservancy President George Fenwick who presented the award to John Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab.

“eBird was an audacious idea, the notion that humans can act as biological sensors through bird watching. Today, that idea is reality, with more than 200 million observations and data points in the biggest biological database in existence. By instantly recording trends in bird populations, eBird acts as a real-time monitor of ecosystem health around the world,” said Fitzpatrick.

“The Leon Levy Foundation is particularly pleased that ABC has chosen to recognize our contribution by naming a new conservation award in the Foundation’s honor and by awarding it to another organization that we are proud to support—the Cornell Lab of Ornithology—for the development of eBird. Though it was founded just ten years ago, eBird has already done more to foster the understanding of birds and their behavior, and to enable informed bird conservation measures, than any other single development. Its potential to do more is enormous,” said Shelby White, Trustee of the Foundation.

The Leon Levy Innovation in Bird Conservation Award will be presented occasionally by ABC and will recognize extraordinary and innovative achievements in bird conservation by groups or individuals. It was founded to recognize the significant commitment to bird conservation made by the Leon Levy Foundation and to honor the philanthropic legacy of Leon Levy.

The eBird program was launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in 2002. It is a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

A birder simply enters when and where they went birding into eBird, then fills out a checklist of all the birds seen and heard during the outing. eBird collects those observations from birders through portals managed and maintained by local partner conservation organizations. In this way, eBird targets specific audiences with the highest level of local expertise, promotion, and project ownership.

The program’s goal is to maximize the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers. It is amassing one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence. For example, in March 2012, participants reported more than 3.1 million bird observations across North America!

The Leon Levy Foundation was founded in 2004 and is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the Leon Levy estate. The Foundation endeavors to continue Leon Levy’s philanthropic legacy and to build on his vision, encouraging and supporting excellence in six broad areas: understanding the ancient world; arts and humanities; preservation of nature and gardens; brain research and science; human rights; and Jewish culture.

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