All of us get stuck at some point while using eBird, and have a question that needs answering. If you are new to eBird, we strongly recommend first reading through the Getting Started page and looking at the google spreadsheet linked from there. A more comprehensive listing of resources to help you is at the eBird help pages.
Common questions and stumbling blocks are listed below. If none of these resources help you, please get in touch.
- Is there a smartphone app for eBird?
Yes, there is a free smartphone app called eBird Mobile, which can be used to document your birding anywhere in the world. eBird Mobile replaces the earlier BirdLog app, and is available for both iOS and Android. If you are using BirdLog, please submit all pending lists, download eBird Mobile and remove BirdLog from your phone. Here are some FAQs about using eBird Mobile.
- I can’t find my species on the list — how I can report it?
The first thing to ensure is that you have set your account preferences to display bird names in “English (India)”. This shows names that are more familiar to us in India. Please also choose the setting that displays scientific name together with English name, so that you can verify that you are choosing the intended species.Another possibility is that a recent taxonomic change has changed the name of the species from one you are used to. Please look at the recent taxonomic changes and at the bottom of that page is a link to a handy excel sheet of species found in India.If you still can’t find your species, it might be unusual at your location and/or time of year. To display such species, click the checkbox that says “Show rarities” while entering your list. If this doesn’t work, the issue is almost certainly one of those addressed above. You can, of course, add any species in the world to your list (click “Add Species” while entering your list), but please do so with caution. Observations reported in this way will be marked for review.
- Do I have to count all individual birds I see?
No, you don’t have to count, but counts can provide much more information than simple ‘presence’, so we encourage you to count where possible. To indicate that you saw/heard the species but did not count it, type an “X” into the box while entering your list.
- Do I need photos of all birds that I see?
Not at all! Birding is often quite a different activity from photography, although many birders will carry a camera just in case they stumble across a rare or unusual species. eBird is about your observations, not your photographs.
- What if I want to include photos anyway?
It’s often a great idea to include photos in your lists. This can serve two purposes: to create a nicely illustrated list of birds that you saw on a trip; and to provide supporting documentation for an unusual sighting. Adding a photo will help ensure that an unusual record is taken as confirmed rather than provisional — now and into the future. At the moment photos can be included by embedded them into your eBird list from a third-party site (details here), but soon you will be able to directly upload your photos, audio clips and videos to eBird.
- I can’t submit my observations as the eBird app says “Rare Birds”
Any observation that is considered potentially unusual, such as a rare species or high count of a species that is more regular, requires some comments to be added before the checklist can be submitted. These species will be indicated with a checkbox on the right hand side, which you should tick when you have entered comments. This check helps detect potential errors, such as accidentally selecting the wrong species, before the list is submitted. In addition, if the record is indeed unusual, your comments are important for a reviewer to assess and confirm it as possible, as described in the next point.
- Why has someone contacted me asking for more details of my sighting?
eBird is a scientific database, meant to further bird research and conservation. For this reason, the correctness of the sightings contained in eBird is of great importance. To help evaluate unusual observations, a large number of volunteer reviewers scrutinize records and communicate with eBird users. If you have reported an unusual bird, you will very likely to contacted by one such reviewer asking for more details. On the other hand, if you have uploaded an accompanying photo, or have provided other documentation, for example field notes, then the reviewer may mark the observation confirmed without having to contact you.If you are contacted by a reviewer, we request that you cooperate in answering his/her questions, so that the database can be as complete and accurate as possible. For more details, please see the Bird Count India description of the data quality and review process.
- I discovered a mistake in the list I submitted some time ago — can I correct it?
Yes, certainly. Just find the list through the interface at My eBird, (click on Manage My Checklists), open the list and then edit one or more the different sections of the list.
- I couldn’t identify a species with certainty — can I still report it?
Please don’t report a species if you were unsure about the identity. Adding a comment in the notes like “most likely” doesn’t help, unfortunately! If you are not sure, you can still report the observation to the taxonomic level you are sure of. For example, if you know what what you saw was a leaf-warbler, then you can you can report it as “Phylloscopus sp.”. Such a report is known as a spuh. If you know that what you saw was one of two species, you can report a slash, eg, “Common/Jungle Myna”. If you see a large number of ducks in the distance, too far to identify, please go ahead and report these as, say, “2000 duck sp.”.
- While exploring data on eBird I came across an unlikely/doubtful observation. What should I do?
Reports that are pending confirmation (eg, the documentation supplied by the observer is not conclusive) are not displayed on the aggregated output like maps; however, when you view someone’s list, all reports are displayed and it isn’t currently possible to tell which are confirmed and which not. So it’s quite possible that you see a list with an odd species and don’t know whether the record is confirmed or not.When you see something like this, the first thing to do is to check whether it shows up on other information displays in eBird. Perhaps the best way to do this it to look at the range maps, search for that species at that location and rough date and see if the record is displayed. If it is not displayed, then the sighting is still unconfirmed. If it does get displayed, and you are concerned that the record maybe in error, please contact us.
- I have compiled a list from my area over the past 3 years — can I upload it?
eBird is designed for birdlists that are associated with a specific date — ie a particular day. Lists compiled over a longer time (eg, a weeklong trip to a national park, or a list of all species you saw over one year) can’t be treated in the same way, since the lack of precision of date would ruin the seasonality charts and other output.However, many birders mantain a lifelist of sorts, spanning several years and locations; and would like to use eBird to continue to keep track of the total numbers of species they have seen. Although such lists cannot be treated as ordinary eBird lists, there is still a way to seed your lifelist, so long as you follow the instructions here.
- I have many bird lists entered on a spreadsheet — do I have to put them manually into my eBird account?
If the lists you want entered are in a notebook, it’s best to key them in manually through the eBird browser interface. But if they are already digitized, in a spreadsheet like excel, or in a dedicated bird-recording software like Avisys, then you can use the eBird bulk upload feature to quickly upload large number of lists to your account. Details are here. It can sometimes be a bit tricky getting everything exactly right for bulk upload, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help!
- How do I show my list to my friends, or post it on Facebook?
You can show anyone your list by sending them the unique link (URL) for that list. Just navigate to your list, copy the link and send it to your friends. When at your list, there are also options to send on Facebook or post on Twitter. You can also email the list to yourself and then forward that email to others.Whatever you do, don’t use the “Share W/ Others In Your Party” link unless you are sharing with people who were physically present at the birding trip. Please see the next FAQ.
- Several of us went birding together — can we pool our sightings together?
Yes, this is the situation in which you would use the option to “Share W/ Others In Your Party”. In eBird, ‘sharing’ means to make a copy of your list into the account of another person — and this should only be done if you were out birding together. You can share with as many people as were birding with you; once the recipients accept the shared list into their accounts, they can edit their copy of the list to reflect exactly what they did or did not see — and in this way each person’s list remains faithful to their birding. Details about checklist sharing are here.
- I want to tell my friends what birds I saw. Should I share my checklist with them?
Please see the two FAQs above. In short, checklists should be shared only with those who were birding with you.
- I am part of a birding group. How can we start and use a group account?
It’s very important that observations in eBird be linked to a particular person, so that reviewers can contact the original observer if they need to. This is part of the data quality process described above. However, some birding groups also like to maintain an aggregate listing of all birds seen by their members. This can be achieved by creating a group account. When creating a group account, please name it clearly and append in parenthesis “group account”, for example “Raipur Bird Club (group account)”. One or more members of the group can upload their birdlists through their personal accounts, and then ‘share’ the lists with the group account. (See above for more on sharing lists.) In this way, records from multiple observers and multiple lists can get aggregated into the group account; but each record is clearly associated with one or more individual observers too.
- I’m interested in starting a monitoring programme for birds in my area — how should I proceed?
We are in the process of putting together detailed material on different kinds of monitoring at differing degrees of simplicity and sophisticated. Until this material is available, please do contact us and we’d be happy to help.
- What is the difference between a ‘hotspot’ and a personal location?
Despite the name, a ‘hotspot’ in eBird is simply a public location — ie a location accessible to others. ‘Hotspots’ are not necessarily locations with a large number of birds. In contrast, your home would be a personal location and should not be made into a hotspot.When entering a list, please first check whether there is already a hotspot in eBird (a red marker on the map when you choose a location); and if so, add your list to the hotspot. If no hotspot exists, you have the option of suggesting the location as a hotspot. For example, say you go birding at a lake which is not yet a hotspot in eBird. Do go ahead and suggest it as a hotspot and a hotspot manager (a volunteer helping with location management in eBird) will take a look at your suggestion, update the name and location if need be, and approve the suggestion. You can also suggest locations of existing lists as hotspots through the Manage My Locations interface in My eBird.Hotspots in eBird are very useful because all lists submitted to those locations are aggregated together and collated into informative summaries, like this one for Keoladeo National Park. You can also search for hotspots to plan your birding trips, either using the hotspot explorer, or looking through the lists of top 100 hotspots at different levels: country, state (eg Maharashtra), or district (eg Agra). More information on hotspots is here.