When you add your photos and recordings directly to your eBird checklists they become part of the Macaulay Library—a multimedia wildlife archive that provides you with a secure way to organize and store your media. Every photo and sound added to your eBird checklists also helps build exciting tools such as the Merlin Bird ID app, Birds of the World and All About Birds.

As soon as you add a photo, audio recording, or video to your eBird checklist, the media enters the Macaulay Library archival system where it is safely stored. When you add an audio recording to your eBird checklist, the sound file also gets sent to a queue where it awaits further processing to be displayed in eBird checklists and in the Macaulay Library search results. Creating the visual representation of the audio (i.e., playable spectrogram) takes time and during the peak media contribution months of May and June this process can take longer than normal. While your recording is processing, please do not delete the file and try uploading it later. Doing so will only make the queue longer and increase processing times for everyone.

Quick Links

General media guidelines

Photo specific guidelines

Audio specific guidelines

How do I upload media?

Additional information

Media upload FAQ

General media guidelines

  • Media must be your own and adhere to the media licensing agreement.

  • Media must be of the actual bird(s) you're reporting, not a similar bird or someone else’s media.

  • Media must have been recorded during the same date/time as the checklist.

  • Upload media for all birds, rare and common alike, as long as they’re identifiable.

  • Don’t add non-bird media, but nests, eggs, and field sketches are welcome.

  • Rating photos and audio helps curate the archive. Even if the media is not top quality, media of any rating has value once archived. See our guidelines for rating photos and rating audio

  • Add notes to your media to give specific info about the bird(s). Media notes refer to that specific asset or file, whereas the observation details refer to that entire observation, which is often not just the bird that you photographed or recorded.

  • Add age and sex info for the bird(s) in the photo or recording if possible. You can search for examples of specific age/sex categories using the Media Search tool.

  • Enter additional species also present in the media whenever applicable. 

  • Add behavior and other tags whenever applicable. See our tagging guidelines for more info.

  • Upload multiple media (maximum 20 photos, 10 audio per species), but only if they are sufficiently different (see below).

Photo specific guidelines

Please see the Photo upload guidelines page for more details. 

  • Crop and edit your images before uploading, but do not over-crop or over-edit them.

  • Upload full-resolution images, as long as they are JPG and under 20 MB each.

  • Don’t add watermarks or other text to images. Your media will always be credited.

  • Don't upload composite images or back-of-camera photos.

Audio specific guidelines 

Please see the Audio preparation and upload guidelines page for more details and tutorials.

  • Record and submit .WAV files, which are higher quality than .mp3 or .m4a, up to 500 MB each.

  • Trim the beginning and end of the sound file to eliminate handling noise.

  • Normalize the bird sounds to -3 dB and voice announcements to -10 dB.

  • Group files recorded from one individual together in the same file.

  • Avoid filters and cosmetic editing; minimal editing is best.

  • Include voice announcements with additional information.


How do I upload media?

Manage Media allows you to quickly add media to your eBird checklists and simultaneously edit data for multiple photos and recordings. Manage Media also enables you to rapidly add ratings, comments, behaviors, background species, and more to your media. 

  1. Record or take a picture of a bird.

  2. Download the media to your computer.

  3. Lightly edit the file as desired (see our guidelines for photo and sound preparation).

  4. Go to your eBird checklist containing the record for that specific bird (any photo/sound you upload must be of the actual bird(s) you're reporting, not a bird you saw like it or someone else's photo).

  5. Click "Add Media" in the top right of any checklist to begin adding media, or click "Manage Media" if you already have media in that checklist.

Checklist with manage media button

  1. Upload media for a species by clicking "Add Media" next to that species name OR drag and drop the file from your computer onto the corresponding species. 

  2. Use the sidebar on the right to add ratings (see our guidelines for rating photos and rating audio), comments, behaviors and background species, and more.

Manage Media Add Media button

  1. Repeat as desired (up to 10 files per species).

  2. Click "Done" in the top right to return to the checklist once the changes are autosaved.

  3. Bask in the beauty of your checklist!

Quick tips for faster tagging: 

  • Use the View icons in the top left to filter down to all media, only photos, or only audio.
  • To select a range of media, Click, then Shift + Click the asset at the end of the range.
  • To select/deselect individual media, use Ctrl or Command + Click. 
  • To select all media, use Ctrl or Command + A.

Sharing checklists with media

Sharing eBird checklists allows your media to be visible in your friends' checklists too, even if it is uploaded after sharing. For copyright reasons, only the person who took a photo or made a recording can upload it. If you were with someone and want to have their media show up in your list, ask them to share their checklist, or share yours and ask them to upload their media!


Changing identifications

The identification of uploaded media can be changed, but this is currently done outside of the Manage Media tool. Click Edit Species on your checklist, then click Change Species next to the media to change just that media. Alternatively, click Change Species next to the species name to change the entire observation (including all media associated with it.) See full instructions about the Change Species process.

Change species


Multiple images or recordings of the same species

We encourage you to add multiple photos that show different individuals, parts, angles, or behaviors of the species as well as photos illustrating different individuals seen while you are out birding. However, multiple images should illustrate differences and not be nearly identical frames from the same burst of shots. 


Recordings of different vocalizations and sounds from one or more bird(s) of the same species are also extremely valuable. Group all recordings from a single individual together in the same file before adding it to your eBird checklist, but upload recordings of different individuals as separate files.

Note that in the checklist view, media will sort in the order in which they initialize and start uploading, which is not necessarily the order that you drop them in. If the order of media in your checklist is important to you, make sure to upload files sequentially and wait for upload to finish on each.


Multiple species in the same image or recording

Each media asset must be uploaded to only one species, but you can use the Additional Species field in Manage Media to tag other species present in the media. Note that an additional species can only be selected if it is also reported on the checklist to which you’re uploading media. If you have photos emphasizing different species in the group, upload these to different species as you see fit. Uploading identical photographs or recordings to two or more different species is not encouraged.


Media upload FAQ

If you have any more questions, please see the list of frequently asked questions