If you want to get started with eBird, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five key steps to help you get eBirding faster (click any step to learn more). 

Get started with eBird

  1. Create an account
  2. Take the eBird Essentials Course
  3. Submit birding checklists
  4. Explore sightings
  5. Follow eBird Best Practices

New to birding? If you’re brand new to birds, try the free Merlin Bird ID app. Merlin can help you identify birds from a photograph or description and includes images and sounds for over 7500 species. It’s a great way to build your bird identification skills anywhere in the world! 

1. Create a free account

To save your bird observations in eBird, you’ll need to create a free Cornell Lab account. This account works across Cornell Lab projects including Merlin Bird ID, Bird Academy, Project Feederwatch, and the Great Backyard Bird Count. 

If you already have an account for these other projects, you can use it for eBird, too! No need to create a separate account. 

If you can’t remember your log-in information follow our account troubleshooting steps.

2. Take the eBird Essentials Course

eBird Essentials is a free, self-paced course that will walk you step-by-step through eBird’s most popular features. You’ll learn how to keep checklists, explore data, and make your observations more valuable for science and conservation - all on your own time and all completely for free!

Online Course eBird Essentials

3. Submit birding checklists

There are two main ways to share your bird observations with eBird: submit them through the eBird.org website, or with the free eBird Mobile app

eBird Mobile is our most popular way to report birding checklists. Easily keep a running list of the birds you see and hear in the field, even without wifi. When you’re done, eBird Mobile automatically calculates your time spent birding and helps you calculate your distance - allowing you to focus on the birds. You can even explore data and share checklists with your fellow birders directly from the app! 

eBird Checklist Basics: 

Whether you submit bird observations on eBird.org or eBird Mobile, every checklist should include:

  • Where you went birding (a single map location) 

  • When you went birding (a single calendar date) 

  • How you went birding (an observation type)

  • Which birds you observed and how many individuals (counting tips)

You will also be asked whether your checklist is complete. A complete checklist is a report of all the birds you could detect and identify by sight or sound. A checklist is incomplete if you identified some birds but chose not to report them (e.g., a list of “highlights only”).  

Can I report dead birds, nests, or birds I saw on a trail cam? Learn which birds to include and not include on your eBird checklists on our Best Practices page. 

What about my existing Life List?  Many birders have a Life List - a running list of all the birds they’ve identified. These historical lists are often kept in notebooks or on Excel spreadsheets. If you want to enter these earlier lists into eBird, visit: Enter your pre-eBird life list

4. Explore sightings anywhere

eBird is a powerful resource for finding target species and discovering new places to go birding. Below are some of the ways you can explore eBird data

  • Species maps
  • eBird Hotspots - popular birding sites recommended by other birders
  • Regional summary pages with species lists, recent visits, top birders, and more
  • Bar charts of how frequently birds are reported throughout the year
  • eBird Alerts when rare species or target birds are reported nearby
  • eBird Targets lists - species you haven’t reported yet plus when and where to find them

Visit our Explore eBird Data info page for more information about these and other ways to discover birds. 

My eBird

My eBird is the place to go to manage and track your birding activity. On My eBird you can:

View your life, year, month, state, location, and any other lists

Access all the eBird checklists you’ve reported

View and edit your eBird profile

Compare your birding activity across years

World activity map and eBirding stats for a single eBird user

Make the most of My eBird and Explore pages by taking the eBird Essentials course

5. Follow eBird Best Practices

eBird gathers bird observations around the world and makes them available to researchers, educators, and conservationists working to understand and conserve birds. Your eBird observations can power cutting-edge science like eBird’s status and trend maps

Want to make your eBird observations more valuable to science? Have questions about the eBird data quality process? Not sure which birds to count, or how?

Read our eBird Rules and Best Practices for a better understanding of these concepts and more.

Estimated seasonal abundance of Barn Swallow across North and South America

Follow the 5 basic steps to eBirding above and you’ll be an eBird expert!