As a volunteer eBird reviewer in Vermont I get many questions. The most
common question in the last few weeks is "Why are there so many
subspecies showing up as options when I'm creating my checklist? It
didn't used to be like that. What should I do"?
When ready to create your checklist and you are on the "What did you see
or hear?" page, which lists all the species which you might expect to
find, look for the option "Show Subspecies". Click that option on and
off and you will see the subspecies show up and disappear on the list.
Most of the time you will have no need to turn on "Show Subspecies".
eBird uses eight taxonomic categories (see below). Recently eBird
completed an upgrade of all categories other than species, and we
reviewers added them to the lists you see when making your checklists.
Many of the additions give you more choices to pick from when dealing
with birds whose identifications are causing you difficulties.
The recent addition of so many subspecies (one of the eight categories)
makes it seem like suddenly there are choices I have to make that I know
little or nothing about. When I'm entering a Red-tailed Hawk on my
checklist, do I pick "Red-tailed Hawk" or "Red-tailed Hawk (borealis)"?
----- Simply pick the species, and not the subspecies. If seeing the
subspecies on the list is bothersome, simply unselect "Show Subspecies"
on the "What did you see or hear?" page.
If you have "Show Subspecies" selected, and for a particular species
only one subspecies is shown, that means it is the only subspecies known
from or expected in the area where you were birding.
If "Show Subspecies" is not selected, the subspecies don't show, and the
list of choices much simpler. Turn it on only if you suspect there are
multiple subspecies to choose from for a species in your birding
location ... and you are interested in the subspecies.
See below for a brief overview of all eight eBird taxonomic categories.
They can be really helpful with birding ID dilemmas, and thus improve
the information on your checklists. A full explanation is found at this
eBird Help link:
The eBird Taxonomy: http://help.ebird.org/customer/portal/articles/1006825
Enjoy the migration madness!
Vermont eBird reviewer
Champlain Valley of Vermont
The eight eBird taxonomic categories ---
Species: -- e.g. Mallard
Subspecies or group of subspecies -- e.g. Mallard (Mexican)
"Spuh": Genus or identification at broad level -- e.g. dabbling duck
sp., duck sp.
"Slash": Identification to Species-pair -- e.g. American Black
Hybrid: Hybrid between two species -- e.g. American Black Duck x
Intergrade: Hybrid between two subspecies or subspecies groups -- e.g.
Mallard (Mexican intergrade)
Domestic: Distinctly-plumaged domesticated varieties that may be
free-flying (these do not count on personal lists) -- e.g. Mallard
Form: Miscellaneous other taxa, including recently-described species
yet to be accepted or distinctive forms that are not universally
accepted -- e.g. (Red-tailed Hawk (Northern), Upland Goose (Bar-breasted)