get this script and other GIS bits here on github

The Ebird dataset is awesome. While directly handling data as a massive delimited file- as distributed by the eBird people- is cumbersome at best, the ebird api offers a fairly straightforward and efficient alternative for a few choice bits and batches of data.

  • The eBird AWK tool for filtering the actual delimited data can be found over here:


It is worth noting R + auk (or frankly any R centered filtering method) will quickly become limited by the single-threaded approach of R, and how you're managing memory as you iterate. Working and querying the data from a proper database quickly becomes necessary.

Most conveniently, the eBird API already exists- snag an key over here.

...The API package for R is over here:

...There is also a neat Python wrapper over here:
pip3 install ebird-api

Region Codes:

I'm not sure why, but some methods use normal latitude / longitude in decimal degrees while some others use "regionCode", which seems to be some kind of eBird special. Only ever seen this format in ebird data.

For example, recent observations uses regionCode:

# GET Recent observations in a region:

...But nearby recent observations uses latitude / longitude:

# GET Recent nearby observations:

Regardless, lets just write a function to convert decimal degrees to this regionCode thing. Here's mine:

#!/usr/bin/env python3
# provide latitude & longitude, return eBird "regionCode"
Written by Jess Sullivan
available at:
import requests
import json

def get_regioncode(lat, lon):

    # this municipal api is a publicly available, no keys needed afaict
    census_url = str('' +
                     str(lat) +
                     '&lon=' +
                     str(lon) +

    # send out a GET request:
    payload = {}
    get = requests.request("GET", census_url, data=payload)

    # parse the response, all api values are contained in list 'results':
    response = json.loads(get.content)['results'][0]

    # use the last three digits from the in-state fips code as the "subnational 2" identifier:
    fips = response['county_fips']

    # assemble and return the "subnational type 2" code:
    regioncode = 'US-' + response['state_code'] + '-' + fips[2] + fips[3] + fips[4]
    print('formed region code: ' + regioncode)
    return regioncode