To get to the Hotspot Explorer just go to eBird and then click the "explore data" tab and then click on the hotspot explorer link.
Once you get to the Hotspot Explorer you'll get a page that looks like this:
That's a grid showing species richness by colour (yellow = low, red = high). Remember, this is only as good as the data that goes into eBird, so it is far from complete, especially outside of North America. You can zoom in on particular areas, like North America or Ontario:
This view is also really cool because it shows you individual hotspots colour-coded for species richness. So you can quickly find which spots you should check out! You can also refine the date-range, so if you are interested in finding out which are the best spots in September you can do that, or maybe just for the past two months!
Clicking on an individual hotspot marker will bring up some quick info about that hotspot:
In the example above, the hotspot name is Hillman Marsh Conservation Area, it is found in Essex County (Ontario) and there are 291 species reported to eBird and 1057 checklists (not too bad!). There is also a link here to the Bar Chart, High Counts, and directions (a google map of the hotspot). Pretty handy.
But the real fun starts by clicking the View Details button:
This gives you a complete list of species for that hotspot and details of the most recent record for each species. You can sort this list taxonomically by clicking "species name" at the top of the list or you can sort by last record date by clicking the "last seen" at the top of the list. You can bring up the complete eBird checklist by clicking the date of any record. At any time we could change the output by date, too. So if we wanted to see the details for this year only, or for the month of May only, it is only a matter of changing the date settings at the top of the screen.
In addition to the species list, there is more details on the right hand side of the screen:
This shows first the "Top eBirders", the top 10 eBird users based on species or checklists submitted (just click the button to toggle between the two). This is where the real genius of eBird's deveolopers comes in...they know some birders just won't be able to resist this challenge of moving up "the rankings". Have a look at your local hotspots - are you in the top 10? If not, this is the official firing of the starting gun!
Below the Top eBirders section is a list of recent visits - this is also very handy. You can see who has been birding recently at this hotspot and how many species they saw - click the date and you'll be taken to the complete list of what they reported!
Anyways, I can attest that this is a really fun new tool, and highly addictive! Definitely give it a try (you don't have to be an eBird user) and see if you can move up the rankings on your local hotspot!
If you notice that a hotspot is missing, that means you should suggest it! Here's how to suggest a location as a hotspot:
1. If the location is already in your account, you just have to sign in to eBird, click "My eBird" then "Manage my locations" - find the location name in your list of locations and check the checkbox beside the location name. Then, at the top of the screen there is a little dropdown menu - click that and select "suggest as hotspots", finally, click the "submit" button beside the dropdown and you are done.
2. If the location is not already in your account, you just have to sign in to eBird and go to submit a checklist. When choosing your location for the checklist use the "find it on a map" option and plot the new location on the map. Give it a name and then check the "Suggest as a birding hotspot" checkbox before clicking the "Continue" button. That's it - you can just stop entering your checklist now because the location has been created and submitted as a hotspot suggestion.
In both of those scenarios the hotspot has been submitted to the hotspot reviewer team. It could take a couple days for them to approve it or they may contact you for more information. This is how we avoid having things like people's yards made into hotspots (unless they really are!).