Louisiana Bird Atlas FAQ | Louisiana Bird Resource Office


Do you have to be a compiler to participate?
No. Anyone can participate as long as their identification skills allow them to produce accurate lists of bird species and estimate of numbers of individuals. Just enter the lists into the appropriate quad.


How do I get to see data gathered by other birders in "my" quad?
We'll work on getting an auto-forward to your email from eBird when someone submits data from your quad. Meanwhile, just encourage them to email you copies of their eBird report, and we will also encourage this more publicly on LABIRD. Eventually, of course, you'll get to see it all.


What if I have several short surveys within the same day, none more than 1 hour, but their sum is more than 1 hour? Do these count?
No. You have to have at least one continuous hour before anything counts; after that you can add discontinuous time periods within that day to that hour. You'll notice that eBird only has a "start" time, so if your surveys are not from different localities, just submit one survey with the earliest start time and the total time of all the surveys.


Does the quad have to have a compiler in order to be surveyed?
No. Just enter the data under that quad's name, and if that quad is never adopted, the LWBA staff will compile it.


Do quad compilers keep track of all the data from their quads?
For now, only if they really work at it. All data entered into eBird/LWBA are stored there for each quad, and the compiler will have access to this sooner or later. Meanwhile, some compilers keep track of totals for species and party-hours informally, for fun, at: Quad Stats.


How do I correct errors on data already entered?
You can do this as follows. Go to eBird site, then "My eBird", then "Manage My Observations," then click on the list you want to fix, and at the far right you'll see an "Edit" button -- this gives you your whole list, with the option to change anything, even add comments for each entry.


How do I email a quad compiler if I don't know their address?
For obvious reasons, we do not want to post email addresses on a web page. If you and the compiler are on LABIRD, you can get the address by sending the REVIEW LABIRD-L command to listserv<at>LSU.edu. If that doesn't work, contact Remsen.


What about yard counts?
As long as they fit the rules, namely at least an hour and all species recorded, then they are fine. If all counts from that quad were of that sort, then this would definitely bias the quad's data toward suburban birds, but we don't anticipate that this will be a problem.  Do not bias a quad’s data by entering too many yard lists, however – perhaps once per week is best.  Also, cut off the time at some reasonable point of diminishing returns, say 1-2 hours for most yards.  Even if you were outside for many more hours than that, adding those hours but adding virtually no new birds biases downwards the detection rates artificially.  Treat you yard list as you would a normal birding outing in terms of time investment.


What about species pairs/groups that often cannot be distinguished, such as Plegadis sp. and Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird?
The final product is unlikely to contain maps for things like "Plegadis sp.", and the eBird list doesn't have these things on their list. So, put this in the Comments section or add them as separate "species" ("add a species" in step 3; you'll get a drop down that allows you to add them). However, we think the following are safe assumptions (unless of course in each case you have good reasons to suspect they aren't):

  1. assume all "Plegadis sp." ibis west of the Mississippi are "White-faced."
  2. assume all "scaup sp." to Lesser.
  3. assume all inland "dowitcher sp." are Long-billed.


How to I add a species category that's not on the eBird menu list?
Quote from Stefan Woltmann message on this to LABIRD: "It's pretty easy to add a "/" species or a hybrid to eBird, but some editors don't put them on the actual checklists. So, here's how. On the checklist page click 'Rare species' in blue at the top. On the resulting page there is an "Add a species" window. In that window you can type in the slash symbol / to see all the slash combos that we have, of which Clapper/King Rail is one. You can then select it and add it to your checklist. You can do the same for "sp." options. In most cases if it's something where only two species are confusing (e.g., Greater/Lesser Scaup) then we'll go with that, but we also might have a broader "Aythya sp." category if that's what you need."


What about owling?
Our inclination, at least for now, is don't worry about owling. Other than Barn Owl, Louisiana owls are almost as likely to be detected during daylight, especially dawn and dusk, and even Barn Owls are regularly detected at daytime roosts. [If we were to get serious about the owl section of the atlas, a new set of methods would have to be developed that standardized moon phase, time of night, playback, and so on. It just isn't worth it, given our low owl diversity.]  Therefore, no owling, which we will define as > 30-mins before sunrise (i.e., standard Breeding Bird Survey protocol) and > 30 minutes after sunset.


What if my quad includes territory from bordering state?
Because the final product will be for within-Louisiana borders only, don't include data from adjacent states.


How is "party-hour" defined?
Party-hours are the single most important non-bird data to track because we use these to calibrate the atlas data for differences in effort among quads. All raw bird totals are divided through by party-hours (effort) to control for differences in coverage among the quads. Those familiar with CBC data need read no further.

A party-hour is an hour spent birding by 1 or more people in which they are detecting the same birds (more or less), i.e. birding together. So, if 2 or more people are birding together and producing a single list of species and individuals, that only counts as 1 party, regardless of number of people. Sure, some species and individuals are seen by only 1 person in the group but for the most part, you're looking at and hearing the same birds, therefore sampling the same populations simultaneously.

But if the group separates for a while, and thus are counting different birds, then the time spent separate counts as separate party hours.

Example: Jack and Jill spend 4 hours birding together, producing 1 composite list. That's four party-hours (NOT 8). Then, for the next four hours, they split up and go in different directions, sampling different birds. That's 4 + 4 = 8 more party hours, for a team total of 4 + 8 = 12 for that day.

By the end of the WBA sampling period, some quads will have accumulated 10 times the number of party-hours as others. So, the raw sum of all the individuals of, say, Blue Jay, will obviously be much higher in those intensively covered quads, all else being equal, even if the true density was identical throughout. So, to correct for differences in effort, the Blue Jay total will be divided through by the best measure of effort, namely party-hours, for fair inter-quad comparisons of relative abundance. [Obviously, other factors influence the Blue Jay tally as well, such as among-quad differences in birder skills, habitat coverage, weather, etc., and that's why the actual comparisons for the atlas maps will not be at a fine scale of resolution, but along the lines of orders of magnitude difference, e.g., 0.1 birds/phr, 1.0 birds/phr, 10.0 birds/phr, etc.]

Party-miles: Same as party-hours but = the total number of linear miles covered during those hours, whether by foot, car, boat, golf cart, or whatever. For some conspicuous species that have linear distributions along roads and waterways, such as Loggerhead Shrike, Red-tail, Kestrel, and Belted Kingfisher, using party-miles may be a better measure for standardizing birder effort than are party-hours.


What about weather data?
eBird format doesn't have fields for weather data (other than the Comments section). This is a big difference from CBC-style data. Because those doing WBA fieldwork can generally pick and chose days with good weather for atlasing, we don't think that the absence of weather data hurts. As long as you do most of your atlasing when the weather doesn't severely suppress detections, we should be fine. We don't really have a way to adjust counts for weather biases when we present the atlas maps anyway.


How do I count birds, especially flocks, when I know I can't be precise?
Brian Sullivan at eBird has written articles on this at eBird. See <click here> and <click here>. In general, the atlas data do not depend on precise counts but reasonable estimates. The biggest problems for assessing abundance in Louisiana in winter are (1) under-estimates of densely packed flocks of blackbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, etc., and (2) over-estimates of frequently calling, rapidly moving groups of small birds such as chickadees, kinglets, and warblers. See p. 5 of … <click here>.


What about that rare species that I saw in the quad, but not during official atlasing?
That's the way it goes! As on CBCs, species known to be present can be missed during the official survey period. Species rare state-wide will unlikely to be mapped in the Louisiana Winter Bird Atlas, so missing these won't really affect anything important. For species rare in the quad in question but found more commonly elsewhere, well, then, missing them on official atlasing is an accurate reflection of their relative abundance statewide.


What about hunting season?
Squirrel, rabbit, snipe, and quail seasons do not end until after the atlas period. Deer season extends no later than 18 January, earlier in some areas. See: LWDF. Duck season ends on 18 Jan. in the West zone and ends on 25 Jan. in the East. Goose season, however, extends through the atlas period; see LWDF for details. As with any kind of fieldwork, be aware and respectful of hunters, and of course respect laws and regulations with respect to access to private and public property.


What are the boundaries between the three regions, Coastal, Southern Interior and Northern Interior?
For the breakdown and explanation of the regions see: Louisiana Subdivisions.