eBird Tutorial- Merging personal locations to hotspots

Drew Weber|

One of the cornerstones of the whole eBird system is the idea of hotspots. Hotspots allow people to submit sightings for a common location and this combined effort results in more accurate bar charts for that location. Seasonal distribution for species at hotspots can be calculated based on hundreds or even thousands of checklists rather than the few checklists that a single person will often submit for each location.

Hotspots are continually being created as more people are using eBird. Anytime you create a checklist at a new location you have the option of suggesting that location as a hotspot. Sometimes many people are submitting new checklists for an area that is not yet a hotspot. They may all suggest it be added as a hotspot but only one of the personal locations at each birding spot can be chosen to represent the new hotspot. This leads to confusion as only one users location is now the hotspot, and everyone is still entering data for that location under a personal location.

eBird does have a way to clean up this mess and associate your sightings with the newly defined hotspot and I will walk you through the process in this tutorial.

1. Click this link. It should take you right to the My Locations page and sort them by type. If you are having problems, follow steps a and b below.

a. First find your way to the My Locations section of eBird which can be accessed from the My eBird page.

b. You are now at a list of all your locations, personal and shared. Next you will want to click on Type* two times. One time will bring all the shared hotspots to the top of the list, and the second click will reverse the ordering and bring your personal locations to the top.

2. Scroll through and find a personal hotspot that you think probably has a shared hotspot associated with it. Any spot that multiple birders visit is likely already a hotspot. Click on Edit.

3. On the edit page you will have 3 radio boxes to choose from- select the Merge button. You should see your personal locations (formerly green, now in blue) as well as any nearby shared hotspots (in red) that have been created.

4. By clicking on any of the red pins, you can see if a hotspot has been created in the same area as your personal location.

5. If you find a suitable hotspot, go ahead and click the Delete after merging box and click on Merge.

Merge hotspots page

The page will ask you to confirm the merging and then you are complete. Your sightings are now contributing to the official eBird hotspot for that site.

As always, let me know if you have any issues or questions with the process.

About the Author

Drew Weber


Drew is the founder and editor of Nemesis Bird and now works to curate some of the best content the web has to offer on birding and ornithology from an energetic crew of ornithologists, field researchers, tour leaders and photographers. Drew is originally from PA but now lives in central New York where he is enjoying the long and snowy winters. He has done various bird jobs including bird surveys for the 2nd PA Breeding Bird Atlas, tracked saw-whet owls from dusk to dawn with Scott Weidensaul and counted hawks for several years for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Drew is an avid lister, especially on smaller scales, and enjoys adding new birds to county, state and life lists. He also enjoys digiscoping and making apps for birders. He is Project Coordinator for the Merlin Project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He is also project manager for the North American Rare Bird Alert.