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eBird Frequently Asked Questions


General questions

Entering data

Accessing submitted data

Locations


Data Privacy


Don't see your question above? 

Click the links below for more information on the following topics:

                                           Great Crested Grebe


Great Crested Grebe by Holger Teichmann/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab (ML204180821)


General Questions


Can anyone use eBird? 

Yes! eBird is for everyone interested in birds, regardless of location or previous experience. Check out our free eBird Essentials course to get started.  


How do I count birds?

Check out our article: How to count birds. Give your best conservative estimate for all individuals you found by sight and/or sound. For tougher scenarios with large flocks, mixed flocks, and moving flocks, read our resources.


How do I identify this bird?

Use Merlin Bird ID or take one of our Bird Academy identification courses! The eBird Explore page also has useful tools for bird identification. You can Explore Species, or try the Illustrated Checklist tab under "Explore Region." For North American species, All About Birds also provides a useful online guide to birds.


Entering Data


How do I submit checklists in eBird?

eBird Mobile is the fastest way to keep checklists in the field; you can also submit checklists on the eBird website. For a step-by-step guide to submitting your bird observations to eBird, take our free eBird Essentials course.


What birds should NOT be reported on my checklist?

eBird is intended for observations of wild, living birds. Please do not report dead or captive birds (e.g., do not include birds in a zoo exhibit or pheasants on a farm). 


You may report any unrestrained bird you observe in the wild. However, please indicate suspected domestic or escaped birds whenever possible. Note that domestic, exotic, and escaped birds may be marked "Rare" and/or unconfirmed by our reviewers so these birds do not get confused for wild, naturally occurring species in our public database. For more information, see our eBird Rules and Best Practices.


How do I add a bird not on the checklist? 

On eBird Mobile, type the name into the search bar and press “Click here to search full taxonomy.” On the eBird website, use the “+ Add Species” button and type in the name.


If you can’t find the species, try searching for the scientific name, or check your Common Name Display Language to ensure your bird names are displayed in your preferred language.


Can I enter data for other people or groups?

Please do not create or upload checklists from separate birding parties to the same account. Instead, set up one account for each birder, and share checklists between them.

Learn how keep a group birding account here. If you are entering someone else's historical birding notes, you can also set up an Historical eBird account.


Can I count the same bird twice?

Yes! This is part of what eBird is all about. Any time that you start a new checklist, include all birds that you see or hear for a complete checklist, even if you recorded the same birds earlier on a different checklist.


However, do not include counts of an individual bird twice within the same checklist. For example, if you see a bird at your feeder, and it flies away and comes back, do not count it twice if you're still entering the same checklist.


What do "slash" and “sp.” mean?

These are entry options for birds that couldn't be identified to species. We encourage eBirders to use them as needed; they help us know about unidentified birds that were present versus birds that weren't present. See the eBird Taxonomy article for more info.


What checklists are eligible for the eBirder of the Month challenges? 

In addition to the specific criteria for each monthly challenge, checklists must be 1) complete checklists with all species reported and 2) have counts for all species (no X's) to be eligible for the monthly challenges. Checklists shared with you and checklists you share with others count. Just make sure you submit your checklists before the end of the month to enter that month's contest!


Accessing submitted data


How do I edit my checklists in eBird? 

Click here for full step-by-step instructions: Editing eBird checklists


On eBird Mobile: tap on "My Checklists," select the “Submitted” tab, tap the checklist you want to edit, then press “Edit” in the bottom right corner.


On the eBird.org: go to Manage My Checklists and open the checklist, then click the blue "Checklist Tools" button. You can choose to edit the location, date and effort, or the species list from the dropdown menu.

However you edit your lists, make sure to save your changes when finished!


How do I delete a checklist?


On the eBird.org website: click My eBird and select "Manage My Checklists." Find the checklist you wish to delete and click on the blue "Checklist Tools" button. From the bottom of the dropdown menu, select 'Delete 

WARNING: Once you erase a checklist from your personal account on the eBird website, it is gone forever from the database. Please do this only with utmost caution!


On eBird Mobile: first go to "Checklists." Swipe left along the checklist you would like to delete, and press the red "delete" button and/or trash can icon that appears. 


 To permanently delete submitted checklists, you must delete them on eBird.orgWhen deleting checklists on eBird Mobile, "Not Submitted" checklists will be permanently deleted, whereas "Accepted" checklists will be removed from the device but still be accessible from the eBird website.



Where did my data go? 

Can't find a checklist you submitted? Log in to eBird.org, click My eBird, then "Manage My Checklists." Every checklist you've submitted to eBird can be accessed from the Manage My Checklists page. 


If you don't see a checklist on that page, you may have multiple accounts in eBird. Click here for information on how to identify and consolidate multiple eBird accounts


Why isn't my observation showing up?

First, log in to eBird.org, go to My eBird, and click "Manage My Checklists" to make sure the checklist was successfully submitted.


Next, go to the eBird Species Map and enter the name of the species that isn't appearing as expected. Zoom in to the area where you reported that species. If your observation appears on the species map, it was successfully incorporated into the eBird public database - there's nothing else you need to do! 


If your sighting was flagged as Rare when you submitted it, it needs to be confirmed by a local volunteer reviewer before it will appear publicly (read more about data quality in eBird). You can facilitate this review process by documenting flagged sightings according to our How to Document Your Sightings page.


Why isn’t my photo or recording showing up? 


Media uploaded for flagged observations also won't show up publicly until a volunteer reviewer confirms the observations. To view these media: open the Macaulay Library search page, enter your name under "Contributor", and click “Show Unconfirmed” under "More Filters". If your media is on a checklist that has been marked Not Public, it will not show up unless the checklist is fixed and marked public again. See here for more info.


Why can't I see my report on a Hotspot or Regional page?


If you used a Hotspot, make sure your checklist was submitted using that Hotspot as the location. Open your checklist on eBird.org and look at the location (under the date at the top of the page). If you selected a Hotspot, the checklist location will be a link taking you to the Hotspot page. 


Hotspots and Regional pages will only show the most recent report of a species. If you can't see your observation on a Hotspot or Region page, it's likely because someone reported that species after you did, and their observation appears instead.


Why don’t my previously submitted checklists appear on eBird Mobile?

eBird Mobile is a one-way data collection tool, so only checklists created on that version of the app are shown. At this time, there is no way to "sync" or share previously submitted checklists to another device or version of the app. eBird Mobile will only ever display the checklists entered/submitted from that device, except under the 'My eBird' tab.


All eBird checklists you have ever submitted from any platform or device will be visible on the "Manage My Checklists" page of the eBird.org website.

Locations


How do I use/choose locations in eBird?

Pick a location that represents where you went birding, whether it’s a hotspot or a personal location. Check out our article on how to select locations in eBird.


What is a Hotspot and how do I make or use one?

Hotspots are public birding locations suggested by eBird users. Learn all about Hotpots here, including when to use them and how to suggest new Hotspots.


How do I move, rename, or merge existing locations?

You can make changes to existing checklist locations on the Manage My Locations page. For step-by-step instructions on how to edit your personal locations, see our Managing Personal Locations help page.


Data Privacy


How does eBird use my data?

eBird revolves around sharing bird observations with scientists, conservationists, and other birders. We will never use or share your information for commercial purposes. Read our Privacy Policy here.


How do I adjust my privacy settings?


Since your data are displayed on maps in real time, we provide options to customize your privacy settings at My eBird Preferences. You can access your account preferences by logging in to eBird.org, clicking your username in the upper right corner, and selecting "Preferences."


How do I hide my name in eBird?


For eBird data quality and official correspondence, we strongly encourage you to use your real name in eBird. However, if you do not wish for your name to appear on public eBird output (e.g., point maps, the Location Explorer, high counts), you can set your name to appear as "Anonymous eBirder" in the Public name display section of My eBird Preferences.



What if I don't want a checklist to show publicly? 

You may wish to do this if you are submitting a list-building checklist, or if there is a potentially sensitive record on private property. You can always un-hide a record later when any risk to the sensitive species has passed (more info on reporting sensitive records).


To hide a checklist: Open a checklist, click the blue "Checklist Tools" button, and select "Hide from eBird output."


Be aware that by doing this, your checklist can no longer be used for scientific analysis. Hiding a checklist will remove its information from all eBird output tools (e.g., Alerts, maps, bar charts etc.). However, it does not hide the fact that you went birding altogether (i.e., the date and location may show up on the Recent Checklists feed, but no one will be able to see the species you saw). 


We always recommend 'unhiding' your checklist at a later date so your valuable bird observations can be used for science and conservation.


To edit a checklist you've hidden, first unhide the checklist (under "Checklist Tools"), make changes to the species list or checklist info, then re-hide the checklist afterwards if desired.


How do I report birds from my home without telling people where I live?

First, you can rename the location so your address is not visible. You can also place or move the location pin to somewhere close by along your street, or at the nearest intersection, and use the street name for the location name.


                                   

Scarlet-chested Sunbird


Scarlet-chested Sunbird by Santiago Caballero Carrera/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab (ML183677411)