Both Alerts and Targets can be accessed from the Explore tab on the eBird website under the Species You Need section. eBird Alerts are up-to-date lists of noteworthy birds reported in the past 7 days in a specific county, state, province, or country, while Targets are lists of species that would be new for you in a region.
Rare Bird Alerts
Rare Bird Alerts are designed to notify you about any rare birds in your region. Any species that’s flagged as “Rare” during the eBird data quality process will go out on the local eBird Rare Bird Alert.
Needs Alerts are tailored specifically to your species lists. For example, a Needs Alert for Costa Rica would show you the list of birds reported in the past seven days that would be new for your all-time Costa Rica list. You could also sign up for Year Needs, which would include birds that would be new for your Costa Rica list for this year. Combining Needs Alerts with Rare Bird Alerts is a great way to paint a complete picture of the rarities in an area as well as what species you might be personally interested in seeing.
ABA Rarities Alert
The "ABA Rarities Alert" shows a list all American Birding Association (ABA)-level rarities recently reported in the US and Canada. These rarities are defined as birds with ABA Codes 3, 4, or 5 on the ABA Area Checklist. These codes are meant to describe how difficult a given bird is to find in the ABA Area. With these alerts, you'll be sure to hear quickly about hot birds turning up in the ABA Area!
Note: these alerts will not let you know about regional rarities. A Brandt's Cormorant would be first record for any state away from the immediate Pacific Coast, but the record wouldn't appear on the ABA Rarities alert since it is an expected bird in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
Subscribing to Alerts
You can "View" an Alert on the webpage at any time, but you can also choose to get daily or hourly emails about Alerts sent to your email address by clicking the green "Subscribe" button. You can change the frequency between daily and hourly or unsubscribe directly from the main Alerts page at any time. You can also use the main page to unsubscribe from any Alert by clicking the "Unsubscribe" icon to the right of each Alert.
Note: if you can't seem to unsubscribe from Alerts, it's because you're subscribed to duplicate versions of the same Alert in your email from multiple eBird accounts and will need to manage your subscriptions accordingly by logging in to each account. See here for more info on account troubleshooting.
Targets is the ultimate way to discover your target list of birds for an area. Whether you’re birding nearby for a weekend or planning a vacation, Targets can help you find everything from your next life bird to your next year bird in your home county. Just enter the region of interest, the time of year, and the type of list that you’re interested in targeting.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Colombia this winter, you could enter “Colombia,” “December,” and ask for birds that would be new for your “World Life List.” Voilà—you now have a list of the species that would be your most likely “lifers” in Colombia at that time of year. To switch to Photo or Audio Targets, click the blue gear icon in the top right corner to select the right Targets category.