Jump to content
Whatbird Community

Citizen Science Data Quality Conservation and Personal Birding Data Projects


AlexHenry

Recommended Posts

1 minute ago, IKLland said:

I submit birds Merlin picks up as long as I heard the sound myself. If Merlin picks up a Yellow Warbler, but I didn’t hear a yellow warbler myself, I don’t submit it. 

I agree as far as my personal lists go, but what about breeding surveys, Christmas counts, and other exercises with more rigorous standards for data collection?

I'm not advocating one way or another, just echoing Nate's concern that we may be sacrificing accuracy by not adapting to newer tools.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I agree as far as my personal lists go, but what about breeding surveys, Christmas counts, and other exercises with more rigorous standards for data collection?

I'm not advocating one way or another, just echoing Nate's concern that we may be sacrificing accuracy by not adapting to newer tools.

Merlin is not always accurate. If it picks up a yellow warbler chino note, or something else, how do you know it’s accurate? When I’m walking around a forest area it often picks up black crowned night heron, which I know is not there. I don’t submit those. Things like that happen a lot. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Pishing is a practical joke that long-time birders pull on newbies, so the old timers can watch a kid walk around getting spit on his shirt while they laugh behind his back.  :classic_blink:

Nate Swick on the ABA podcast has wondered about reporting Merlin detections for breeding bird surveys.  Officially Merlin is not acceptable, but what if it detects birds you didn't hear?  What's more important, the data or how it's gathered?  Merlin is only going to get more accurate; for most of us, our hearing isn't.

I must be doing something wrong then, cause I can pish out birds.  Song Sparrows are especially susceptible, as are Chickadees, Titmouse, Blue Jays, Nuthatch, Cardinals and even Bluebirds among others.  Yellow-rumped will occasionally as will Yellowthroats, and occasionally Yellow Warblers.  

I know a birder with a dead-on Screech-owl impression that does the same thing with birds.  

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If done correctly, pishing can be quite effective. I recommend this book to all birders whether you want to pish or not. 
The Art of Pishing: How to Attract Birds by Mimicking Their Calls (Book & Audio CD) https://a.co/d/50N9iVw

 

I know there’s some birders here in California that have incredible abilities when it comes to mimicking screech owls and pishing. I’m sure @Connor Cochranecan add a little to that. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Playing mob tapes can be incredibly effective as well, but they’re less ethical than pishing so don’t overuse them if you use them at all. Basically they’re minute long recordings with a screech or Pygmy owl in them, as well as a lot of other songbird calls from your region. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, IKLland said:

Was curious what peaople think about pishing. Those who don’t push or play calls are often seeing more birds. Do you think this can cause skews in the data as well? If people don’t push, don’t see as many birds, or people that do push see more birds, this can cause skewed data in my opinion. I’m not saying don’t pish, and I’m not telling anyone to change what they’re doing. Just throwing out the thought. 

I have actually never seen pishing work. I heard or read somewhere that it's related to species that don't occur here. But I don't see any evidence that it affects the number of observations, at least not here. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

51 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I agree as far as my personal lists go, but what about breeding surveys, Christmas counts, and other exercises with more rigorous standards for data collection?

I'm not advocating one way or another, just echoing Nate's concern that we may be sacrificing accuracy by not adapting to newer tools.

I would never submit birds detected by sound on Merlin; it very often returns absurd and clearly wrong IDs. I agree, if it helps me to identify a bird I don't know by sound or didn't notice, but I hear it for myself and can confirm the ID I'll list it. I've never known of anyone using birds heard and IDed by Merlin on any counts, including Christmas Bird Counts. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

59 minutes ago, chipperatl said:

I must be doing something wrong then, cause I can pish out birds.

More likely I'm doing something wrong.  I go with a group periodically, and one member frequently makes a (annoying) warble.  As far as I can tell, it doesn't attract anything.  He's not big on sharing what he sees or hears, so maybe it's incredibly effect and he's just not telling anyone.  (I don't think he's deliberately keeping info from the rest of us, just that it doesn't occur to him.)

55 minutes ago, IKLland said:

The Art of Pishing: How to Attract Birds by Mimicking Their Calls (Book & Audio CD) https://a.co/d/50N9iVw

Thanks!

54 minutes ago, IKLland said:

Playing mob tapes can be incredibly effective as well, but they’re less ethical than pishing

Why do you think so?  I tell myself that pishing isn't any more ethical than playing back calls, that the principle is the same  (although that's something I tell myself because I'm no good at pishing anyway).

Edited by Charlie Spencer
  • Haha 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Why do you think so?  I tell myself that pishing isn't any more ethical than playing back calls, that the principle is the same  (although that's something I tell myself because I'm no good at pishing anyway).

You’re playing actual species’ calls. Pishing is just a noise. Calls are communications between birds, etc. there’s also owls in the mob recordings. I’m not saying don’t play these, as a matter of fact I play them a lot, just limit how often you do it.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

The intent is the same - to draw birds away from what they'd otherwise be doing.

I'm not saying either is inherently unethical, but I don't see a degree of ethical difference between them.

No worries. Read the book-it’ll be really informative to all whether you pish, want to pish, or don’t want to pish.  

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, IKLland said:

If done correctly, pishing can be quite effective. I recommend this book to all birders whether you want to pish or not. 
The Art of Pishing: How to Attract Birds by Mimicking Their Calls (Book & Audio CD) https://a.co/d/50N9iVw

 

I know there’s some birders here in California that have incredible abilities when it comes to mimicking screech owls and pishing. I’m sure @Connor Cochranecan add a little to that. 

Yeah, I have skimmed through that book before. I have gotten really good at pishing, so if anybody wants lessons, I only charge 40 bucks an hour:classic_laugh:

I have always had great luck with pishing though. One time I started pishing, and attracted over 10 species! Those species included Carolina Wren, White-eyed Vireo, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Towhee, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, House Finch, and even a Swainson's Warbler! It gave great views too! I have never been able to successfully pish a Swainson's ever since though.

I don't you pishing techniques or playback often, but when the habitat looks good for certain species, or if there is a bird that is just out of reach for a picture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, chipperatl said:

I must be doing something wrong then, cause I can pish out birds.  Song Sparrows are especially susceptible, as are Chickadees, Titmouse, Blue Jays, Nuthatch, Cardinals and even Bluebirds among others.  Yellow-rumped will occasionally as will Yellowthroats, and occasionally Yellow Warblers.  

I know a birder with a dead-on Screech-owl impression that does the same thing with birds.  

Song Sparrows are ridiculously susceptible to pishing! Yellow-breasted Chats are another one of those species that react to pishing. My only photos of a chat are from the time when I pished it out.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My view on "moderation" - I can pish, playback, etc. in moderation; but I don't know how many other birders are doing the same. Moderation X lots of birders isn't so moderate.

Most of the CBCs here don't allow playbacks. I tend not to use them. I get especially annoyed when people use them for gratuitious reasons - like once when the tanager was right there in plain sight, everyone saw it, and someone wanted to play the call to get it to vocalize. And, with my apologies, I personally don't support the idea of using a playback to get a good photo either. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, IKLland said:

The book is fantastic. Make other sounds other than a normal pish and playback. 

I will cycle through different phishing sounds on a bird, often times certain sounds get more reaction that others. Doesn’t always work, but it’s a killer tool in fall!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, IKLland said:

Playing mob tapes can be incredibly effective as well, but they’re less ethical than pishing so don’t overuse them if you use them at all. Basically they’re minute long recordings with a screech or Pygmy owl in them, as well as a lot of other songbird calls from your region. 

Mobbing playback I created is only used during CBC.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, IKLland said:

You’re playing actual species’ calls. Pishing is just a noise.

I have a different understanding of this. Pishing, when done correctly, imitates the scolding call of a variety of species of birds. Other birds come in to investigate and/or mob the threat. 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/3/2023 at 11:02 AM, IKLland said:

Was curious what peaople think about pishing. Do you think this can cause skews in the data as well? If people don’t push, don’t see as many birds, or people that do push see more birds, this can cause skewed data in my opinion.  

Yes, pishing/playback can/will net you more birds compared to a more passive style of observation (at least in certain habitats with certain types of birds, ie songbirds in a forest).

But think even bigger and more general. There’s the issue of observer experience. Some birders know every song and call, while others may need good looks to identify a bird. This leads to vastly different detection rates even if protocol and search effort are the same.

But I don’t think this is as much of an issue as it might seem - and neither is pishing. I see eBird as having more of a shotgun approach than a rifle approach, if that makes sense - get a LOT of data, without necessarily worrying about it being super standardized. Just because different protocols or methodologies are being used does not mean the data is incompatible. By amalgamating data from so many different users, you end up with a bit of a bell curve, where some people are detecting and reporting more birds and some are detecting and reporting less. But the more users you have, the more the overall body of data converges toward reality.

In other words, it’s okay that there’s different people doing different things and detecting different amounts of birds, because there are just so many users that it all averages out.


While I understand what @DLecy is saying about the sheer volume of data being potentially problematic, especially from a reviewer’s perspective, I also see it as one of eBird’s greatest strengths, and even part of the underlying philosophy of eBird (ie, you aren’t trying to get perfect precise, perfectly standardized data - you’re trying to get a LOT of data). The sheer volume of data and the diversity of users is good and helps combat the biases that individual users or specific methodologies may have.

Everyone makes mistakes or has some bad habits - I know I certainly do - but I guess the hope is that there’s enough people, and they’re making different mistakes/have different bad habits, that those bad aspects of the data get mitigated or overwhelmed to some extent. I guess the real problem occurs when there’s a community-level tendency towards certain mistakes. And at least if it’s with rare birds it’s easier to parse out in the data. Mis-IDed Semipalmated Sandpiper vs Western Sandpiper when one of those is rare is probably a lot easier to clean up than mis-IDed House Finch vs Purple Finch when neither is rare but a lot of people make that mistake.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

Yes, pishing/playback can/will net you more birds compared to a more passive style of observation (at least in certain habitats with certain types of birds, ie songbirds in a forest).

But think even bigger and more general. There’s the issue of observer experience. Some birders know every song and call, while others may need good looks to identify a bird. This leads to vastly different detection rates even if protocol and search effort are the same.

But I don’t think this is as much of an issue as it might seem - and neither is pishing. I see eBird as having more of a shotgun approach than a rifle approach, if that makes sense - get a LOT of data, without necessarily worrying about it being super standardized. Just because different protocols or methodologies are being used does not mean the data is incompatible. By amalgamating data from so many different users, you end up with a bit of a bell curve, where some people are detecting and reporting more birds and some are detecting and reporting less. But the more users you have, the more the overall body of data converges toward reality.

In other words, it’s okay that there’s different people doing different things and detecting different amounts of birds, because there are just so many users that it all averages out.


While I understand what @DLecy is saying about the sheer volume of data being potentially problematic, especially from a reviewer’s perspective, I also see it as one of eBird’s greatest strengths, and even part of the underlying philosophy of eBird (ie, you aren’t trying to get perfect precise, perfectly standardized data - you’re trying to get a LOT of data). The sheer volume of data and the diversity of users is good and helps combat the biases that individual users or specific methodologies may have.

Everyone makes mistakes or has some bad habits - I know I certainly do - but I guess the hope is that there’s enough people, and they’re making different mistakes/have different bad habits, that those bad aspects of the data get mitigated or overwhelmed to some extent. I guess the real problem occurs when there’s a community-level tendency towards certain mistakes. And at least if it’s with rare birds it’s easier to parse out in the data. Mis-IDed Semipalmated Sandpiper vs Western Sandpiper when one of those is rare is probably a lot easier to clean up than mis-IDed House Finch vs Purple Finch when neither is rare but a lot of people make that mistake.

I agree.

I talked to somebody who was using ebird reports of Loggerhead Shrikes to try to figure out the most common nesting sites and where the birds typically hung out at. Even with the immensity of all of the ebird reports added together, him and his colleagues were only able to use several hundred reports on ebird. One of the main reasons why so little reports were used was because they only used reports with photos, or with a reliable report.(not sure how they did that). 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Zoroark said:

On the species map, check the "Explore rich media" box, and it will only show observations that have photos, audio, or video attached.

Thanks, I didn't know that! What I meant though was how they were able to figure out which observations without media were quote on quote 'reliable'. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...