Making sure you’re using the newest filters & an update

We are nearing a major advance in the Michigan eBird filters: the creation of about 40 new filters. Here are the existing 26 filters for MI as described in our last blogpost:

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and here are the ones that will result from our upgrade:

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This change will result in greatly fine-tuned filters for each county/group of counties, streamlining the data entry system and minimizing annoying unnecessary flagging of records. But in order to fully take advantage of this upgrade, it is important to make sure you’re not inadvertently using older, outdated versions of the filters. Here’s how it happens: If you are using BirdLog to enter your data, during data entry it asks you to tell it where you are birding with this dialog:

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When you use “Choose a Recent Location” or “Create Offline Checklist,” the app accesses a cached version of the filters from the device’s hard drive. This way the device doesn’t have to waste time communicating with the cell tower or WiFi connection. This makes the process much faster and more convenient, no doubt, but you get an outdated version of the county checklist for which to enter your data (assuming changes have been made to that filter since you last used it)! In order to avoid this, simply use one of the other categories: “Choose a Location From Map”, “Create a New Personal Location”, “Choose a Nearby Hotspot”, “Choose Hotspots by City”, or “Choose a Nearby Personal Location.” Any of these will force your device to use the cell tower or WiFi to download and display the current filter, refreshing it with the current version. *Note: this issue does not apply to data entry on ebird.org, which automatically accesses the internet to generate its checklist.*

As these new splits are implemented over the next several months, Team eBird Michigan will begin the process of tweaking each filter to most accurately represent that county’s nuances of bird distribution and abundance. As those of you with local expertise notice improper species or counts flagging, we would appreciate your suggestions for fixing the filter. Please put these comments *in the species comments section of the species that flagged*. All users are still asked to submit photos and detailed descriptions even when you think the filter is too strict. But these notes are very helpful to us reviewers who are attempting to get things just right, and often don’t have time to bird each county at the level required to understand each peculiarity of bird distribution there. Here are two examples of helpful suggestions, the first of summering Redheads at St. Clair Flats, St. Clair County, which flagged (but shouldn’t, and won’t after the split):

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and the second of post-nesting Acadian Flycatchers in Kent County, where we needed to allow for more than 2 individuals after July 10 (but were only allowing for 2 because singing behavior drops so precipitously during late summer).

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Both of these suggestions will be used to correct the local filter, and eventually all of Michigan’s filters will very tightly track the actual abundance level of each species in each area. So, please keep the species comments coming, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rollout of these souped-up new filters over the next many months!

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