The eBird Taxonomy is a hierarchical approach to creating a species list for data entry and listing purposes across the world. You can download an excel version of the eBird taxonomy at the bottom of the page. Since understanding exactly what is meant by every bird species or taxon on a given list is an essential part of reporting your sightings, we detail our approach below to help clarify any questions.
To download the eBird taxonomy, the Clements taxonomy, or a merged version, please visit the Clements/eBird checklist download page. As explained below, the eBird Taxonomy includes all taxa available in eBird; the Clements Checklist includes just species, subspecies groups, and subspecies (subspecies are not available in the eBird taxonomy), and the eBird/Clements Checklist includes both lists merged together. This last option is especially useful for determining what subspecies comprise each subspecies group, for example.
eBird Taxonomy — Categories
The eBird taxonomy is much more than a list of species. It includes every field-identifiable taxon that could be relevant for birders to report. The taxonomic categories are each dealt with differently in eBird output and the eight categories are clearly indicated in the downloadable file below (a ninth category, Clements ssp., is available only in the Clements Checklist). The eight eBird categories are as follows:
eBird Taxonomy — Species
Our species and subspecies taxonomy follows the Clements Checklist. The Clements Checklist is a global bird taxonomy which follows regional authorities. In the New World, the Clements Checklist largely defers to the two AOS committees–the North American Classification Committee (NACC) and the South American Classification Committee (SACC)–with the goal of near-complete compliance. The few departures from their taxonomy and nomenclature tend to be in the handful of the cases where the two committees are not in agreement, or where one or both committees makes a taxonomic or nomenclatural decision that is at odds with prevailing usage elsewhere in the world. In the latter case, this most often applies to very rare vagrants in North America (e.g., Siberian Stonechat, Dusky Thrush). All such departures are listed in detail in Appendix A (NACC) and Appendix B (SACC).
The eBird taxonomy (v2018) is current with Clements v2018 which is itself current with the 58th supplement to the AOS-NACC Check-List and the AOS-SACC Check-List through 21 Jun 2018 (The NACC issues updates once a year in August, whereas the SACC updates their taxonomy continually.)
Clements updates occur once a year in the late summer/autumn, and are documented in full, and can be downloaded directly here. The downloadable list is very useful since this checklist includes a description of the world range for each species and subspecies as well. eBird taxonomic updates coincide with the Clements updates in August.
eBird Taxonomy — Subspecies, Groups, and ISSFs
The Clements checklist includes identifiable groups, which we also use in eBird. Identifiable groups–which eBird refers to as ISSF (Identifiable Subspecific Form)–are taxonomic units below the species level that follow subspecific boundaries as defined by the Clements checklist. These may be a formally described subspecies,
Junco hyemalis aikeni……Dark-eyed Junco (White-winged)
a subspecies pair:
Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis…..Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
or a group of subspecies which we define:
Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group]….Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)
These groups or ISSFs allows eBirders to make note of identifiable differences (which may be helpful if the species are later split) to study the distribution and abundance of different subspecific forms where they both occur. We encourage eBirders to use these groups to report whenever possible; note that you can always add any species or group to your checklist by clicking “rare species” and using the “Add a species” box.
The Clements checklist is a work in progress. New species are described each year and new splits are justified in print almost weekly. In addition to keeping up with these rapid advances in bird taxonomy, the Clements team also endeavors to add a number of new subspecies groups to the checklist in the coming years. Assistance is welcome, especially from South America and the Old World.
In addition to the formal taxonomic concepts that are included in the Clements Checklist, the eBird taxonomy includes an expanded list of other bird taxa that birders may report. Like the Clements list, we have rules governing the nomenclature and taxonomic placement of these birds, so that they appear in predictable places on any bird list. These additional categories of bird taxa are listed below, and are identified accordingly in our eBird taxonomy.
Hybrids and intergrades
We have made an effort to include many known hybrids that occur in the wild. While this is not a list of every single hybrid combination reported, we have tried to include those that are frequent enough and distinctive enough that they might be reported by birders. These range from the common combinations like “American Black Duck x Mallard” and “Western x Glaucous-winged Gull” to considerably rarer combinations like “Magnificent x Berylline Hummingbird” and “White-throated Sparrow x Dark-eyed Junco.” Note that the hybrid names always follow phylogenetic sequence, with the first species in sequence coming first in the hybrid name. Hybrids are listed immediately following the ISSF groups in the second parent species in the sequence. All hybrids are followed by the parenthetical note “(hybrid)”–thus you can review all hybrids by searching for (hybrid) within the “Find a species” text box during checklist entry.
We also include intergrades, where hybridization between two subspecies or ISSFs produces an identifiable cross. For example, since the two forms of Green-winged Teal (American and Eurasian) are distinctive and each is treated as an ISSF in the eBird taxonomy, we consider the hybrid result of a mixed pairing to be an intergrade.
Spuhs (and slashes)
Spuhs? What is a spuh, you ask? For difficult to identify groups (like flycatchers) or distant birds (hawkwatchers regularly cope with this problem), birders will often record their identifications only to the genus level, or to some other level above species. “Spuh” is our affectionate term for birds not identified to the species level. Examples include: Empidonax sp., scoter sp., Accipiter sp., or duck sp. Many birders keep track of these sightings, and they can be tracked in eBird as well.
Note that we have two ways of tracking spuhs. Some are listed with the group name and “sp.” But when there are only two members of a species pair are possible, we instead have opted to list these with a slash. For example, we do not use “murre sp.” but instead list “Common/Thick-billed Murre.” The often-used “dowitcher sp.” is instead listed as “Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher.” Other useful listings include: Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated/Western Sandpiper, and Parasitic/Pomarine Jaeger. We refer to each of these as a slash in our taxonomy.
You can review the available spuhs by searching for “sp.” in the “Find a species” box and you can review all slash combos by searching for “/”.
Some species such as Mallard, Graylag Goose, or Wild Turkey have a long history of domestication, and their free-flying progeny are sometimes encountered in the field. We allow these birds to be reported in eBird using Mallard (Domestic type), Graylag Goose (Domestic type), and Wild Turkey (Domestic type). Note however that the domestic types in eBird are phenotypes, and thus are field identifiable as birds of domestic origin by virtue of their white plumage, large size, puffy rear ends (e.g., Mallards) or other traits that are not typical of wild populations. This option *should not* be used to report birds that are identical to wild birds but that you presume to be escapees. Importantly, our “domestic type” is a distinct lineage for these birds and not a value judgment of whether you believe it recently escaped from a cage or pen. This is often mis-used in eBird, so please try to understand this distinction before reporting domestic types in eBird. domestics are generally not counted on eBird lists, but there are two exceptions. Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) is used to represent the wild, free-flying pigeons that occur in cities worldwide, and it distinct from Rock Pigeon (Wild type), which is much rarer and of conservation status in many regions (read more here). Muscovy Duck (Established Feral) is to be used for feral type birds (white, or blotchy, often with oversized red warty protuberances on the face) that are considered established parts of the avifauna in areas such as Florida; the Muscovy Duck is unusual since it also has an option for Muscovy Duck (Domestic type) which does not count on lists but is phenotypically identical.
In some cases, there are additional bird entities that can’t be described with a formal scientific name. These may include new species (or suspected new species) that birders are already reporting and documenting. Since the Clements Checklist will not add them until the formal description has appeared in a peer-reviewed paper, it can be years (or decades) until the species would be available via that list. Collecting data on these entities is important, so we include them as a “form”, which is a catch-all for additional birds which we want birders to report, but which do not yet have a formal scientific name (some of them may never have such a name). We expect to expand this list in the future to include other yet-to-be-described species.
These forms are listed in Appendix C.
Alternate common names
We support 50+ alternate common names, including Spanish, French, Thai, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, Hebrew and many more. Please see more at Common Names Translations in eBird.
Both the Clements taxonomy and the eBird taxonomy are works in progress. If you notice any species, subspecies, hybrid, or “spuh” that is conspicuously absent, please let us know with an email to email@example.com. Furthermore, should you find any errors in spelling, nomenclature, taxonomy, or sequence, please do let us know as well.
Recent updates: The eBird taxonomy is updated once a year. To see summaries of the recent updates, you can read the stories here:
The Clements Checklist follows the two AOS committees, NACC and SACC, but there are a small number of cases where the committees are not in alignment. Since the American Birding Association (ABA) and many other groups follow the species taxonomy of the NACC, we document these departures in detail below. Note that minor differences in checklist order occur as well, but are not detailed in full. Appendix B documents departures from the SACC.
eBird/Clements departures from the AOS North American Classification Committee (NACC) Check-List are detailed in full below:
APPENDIX B — SACC DEPARTURES
The below documentation discusses inconsistencies with the SACC Check-List prior to 31 July 2011. SACC changes adopted after 31 July 2011 are not elucidated below.
APPENDIX C — eBird “forms”
The following birds, listed in the eBird taxonomy as “forms”, are not formally recognized by the Clements taxonomy and thus do not have official taxonomic status and do not have official taxonomic names. In some cases we create a name, while in others we use published names that have yet to gain formal acceptance. At least a few of these have been described and may soon be updated to species rank. These are listed in full below:
Brant (Gray-bellied) Branta bernicla (Gray-bellied)
Upland Goose (White-breasted) Chloephaga picta (White-breasted)
Upland Goose (Bar-breasted) Chloephaga picta (Bar-breasted)
Rock Pigeon (Wild type) Columba livia (Wild type)
Palawan Cuckoo-Dove (undescribed form) Macropygia [undescribed form]
Timor Nightjar (undescribed form) Caprimulgus sp. [undescribed Timor form]
Maranhao Hermit Phaethornis maranhaoensis
Crowned Woodnymph (Violet-crowned Woodnymph) Thalurania colombica (Violet-crowned Woodnymph)
Crowned Woodnymph (Green-crowned Woodnymph) Thalurania colombica (Green-crowned Woodnymph)
Hawaiian Coot (Red-shielded) Fulica alai (Red-shielded)
Hawaiian Coot (White-shielded) Fulica alai (White-shielded)
American Coot (Red-shielded) Fulica americana (Red-shielded)
American Coot (White-shielded) Fulica americana (White-shielded)
Slate-colored Coot (White-billed) Fulica ardesiaca (White-billed)
Slate-colored Coot (Yellow-billed) Fulica ardesiaca (Yellow-billed)
Great Nicobar Crake (undescribed form) Rallina [undescribed form]
Whimbrel (White-rumped) Numenius phaeopus phaeopus/alboaxillaris/variegatus
Rock Sandpiper (quarta/tschuktschorum/couesi) Calidris ptilocnemis quarta/tschuktschorum/couesi
Brown-hooded Gull (White-winged) Chroicocephalus maculipennis (White-winged)
Brown-hooded Gull (Dark-winged) Chroicocephalus maculipennis (Dark-winged)
Iceland Gull (thayeri/kumlieni) Larus glaucoides thayeri/kumlieni
Iceland Gull (glaucoides/kumlieni) Larus glaucoides glaucoides/kumlieni
Lesser Black-backed Gull (taimyrensis) Larus fuscus taimyrensis
New Caledonian Storm-Petrel (undescribed form) Fregetta [undescribed form]
Leach’s/Townsend’s Storm-Petrel (dark-rumped) Oceanodroma leucorhoa/socorroensis (dark-rumped)
Leach’s/Townsend’s Storm-Petrel (white-rumped) Oceanodroma leucorhoa/socorroensis (white-rumped)
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Madeiran) Oceanodroma castro castro
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Grant’s) Oceanodroma castro [undescribed form]
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Darwin’s) Oceanodroma castro bangsi
Black-capped Petrel (White-faced) Pterodroma hasitata (White-faced)
Black-capped Petrel (Dark-faced) Pterodroma hasitata (Dark-faced)
Gough Prion (undescribed form) Pachyptila [undescribed form]
Galapagos Shearwater (Dark-winged) Puffinus subalaris (Dark-winged)
Galapagos Shearwater (Light-winged) Puffinus subalaris (Light-winged)
Great Cormorant (Dark-breasted) Phalacrocorax carbo carbo/sinensis
Imperial Cormorant (Blue-eyed) Phalacrocorax atriceps (Blue-eyed)
Imperial Cormorant (King) Phalacrocorax atriceps (King)
Great Blue Heron (Wurdemann’s) Ardea herodias (Wurdemann’s)
Variable Hawk (Puna) Geranoaetus polyosoma (Puna)
Variable Hawk (Red-backed) Geranoaetus polyosoma (Red-backed)
Red-tailed Hawk (abieticola) Buteo jamaicensis abieticola
Red-tailed Hawk (calurus/abieticola) Buteo jamaicensis calurus/abieticola
Elgin Buzzard (undescribed form) Buteo [undescribed form]
Principe Scops-Owl (undescribed form) Otus [undescribed form]
San Isidro Owl (undescribed form) Ciccaba [undescribed form]
White-spotted Boobook (undescribed form) Ninox [undescribed form]
Inambari-Tambopata Antwren (undescribed form) Herpsilochmus [undescribed Inambari-Tambopata Antwren]
Loreto Antwren (undescribed form) Herpsilochmus [undescribed Loreto form]
Aripuana Antbird (undescribed form) Sciaphylax [undescribed form]
Lambayeque Tapaculo (undescribed form) Scytalopus [undescribed Lambayeque form]
Millpo Tapaculo (undescribed form) Scytalopus [undescribed Millpo form]
Ayacucho Tapaculo (undescribed form) Scytalopus [undescribed Ayacucho form]
Ampay Tapaculo (undescribed form) Scytalopus [undescribed Ampay form]
Yungas Woodcreeper (undescribed form) Deconychura [undescribed form]
Bahia Treehunter (undescribed form) Heliobletus [undescribed form]
Mantaro Thornbird (undescribed form) Phacellodomus [undescribed form]
Araguaia River Spinetail (undescribed form) Certhiaxis [undescribed form]
Necklaced Spinetail (undescribed form) Synallaxis stictothorax [undescribed La Libertad form]
Amazonian Spinetail (undescribed form) Synallaxis [undescribed Amazonian form]
Mantaro Spinetail (undescribed form) Synallaxis [undescribed Mantaro form]
Peruvian Tyrannulet (Amazonas) Zimmerius viridiflavus [undescribed form]
Orinoco Wagtail-Tyrant (undescribed form) Stigmatura [undescribed form]
Maranhao-Piaui Pygmy-Tyrant (undescribed form) Myiornis [undescribed form]
Alor Myzomela (undescribed form) Myzomela [undescribed Alor form]
Taliabu Myzomela (undescribed form) Myzomela [undescribed Taliabu form]
Bacan Drongo (undescribed form) Dicrurus [undescribed form]
Peleng Fantail (undescribed form) Rhipidura [undescribed form]
Bismarck Flyrobin (undescribed form) Microeca [undescribed form]
Mantaro Wren (undescribed form) Pheugopedius [undescribed form]
Rote Leaf Warbler (undescribed form) Phylloscopus [undescribed Rote form]
Taliabu Leaf Warbler (undescribed form) Phylloscopus [undescribed form 1]
Banggai Leaf Warbler (undescribed form) Phylloscopus [undescribed form 2]
Taliabu Grasshopper-Warbler (undescribed form) Locustella [undescribed form]
Kilombero Cisticola (undescribed form) Cisticola [undescribed Kilombero form]
White-tailed Cisticola (undescribed form) Cisticola [undescribed White-tailed form]
Subalpine Warbler (cantillans/inornata) Sylvia cantillans cantillans/inornata
Meratus White-eye (undescribed Meratus form) Zosterops [undescribed form]
Wangi-Wangi White-eye (undescribed form) Zosterops [undescribed Wangi-Wangi form]
Obi White-eye (undescribed form) Zosterops [undescribed Obi form]
Meratus Jungle-Flycatcher (undescribed form) Cyornis [undescribed Meratus form]
Togian Jungle-Flycatcher (undescribed form) Cyornis [undescribed Togian form]
Spectacled Flowerpecker (undescribed form) Dicaeum [undescribed form]
Western Yellow Wagtail (lutea/flavissima) Motacilla flava lutea/flavissima
Western Yellow Wagtail (flava/beema) Motacilla flava flava/beema
Western Yellow Wagtail (iberiae/cinereocapilla/pygmaea) Motacilla flava [cinereocapilla Group]
Evening Grosbeak (type 1) Coccothraustes vespertinus (type 1)
Evening Grosbeak (type 2) Coccothraustes vespertinus (type 2)
Evening Grosbeak (type 3) Coccothraustes vespertinus (type 3)
Evening Grosbeak (type 4) Coccothraustes vespertinus (type 4)
Evening Grosbeak (Mexican or type 5) Coccothraustes vespertinus (type 5)
Red Crossbill (Wandering or type A) Loxia curvirostra (type A)
Red Crossbill (Bohemian or type B) Loxia curvirostra (type B)
Red Crossbill (Glip or type C) Loxia curvirostra (type C)
Red Crossbill (Phantom or type D) Loxia curvirostra (type D)
Red Crossbill (Parakeet or type E) Loxia curvirostra (type E)
Red Crossbill (Scarce or type F) Loxia curvirostra (type F)
Red Crossbill (Parakeet or type X) Loxia curvirostra (type X)
Red Crossbill (Appalachian or type 1) Loxia curvirostra (type 1)
Red Crossbill (Ponderosa Pine or type 2) Loxia curvirostra (type 2)
Red Crossbill (Western Hemlock or type 3) Loxia curvirostra (type 3)
Red Crossbill (Douglas-fir or type 4) Loxia curvirostra (type 4)
Red Crossbill (Lodgepole Pine or type 5) Loxia curvirostra (type 5)
Red Crossbill (Sierra Madre or type 6) Loxia curvirostra (type 6)
Red Crossbill (Enigmatic or type 7) Loxia curvirostra (type 7)
Red Crossbill (Newfoundland or type 8) Loxia curvirostra (type 8)
Red Crossbill (Sitka Spruce or type 10) Loxia curvirostra (type 10)
Pine Siskin (green morph) Spinus pinus (green morph)
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored/cismontanus) Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis/cismontanus
White-crowned Sparrow (Dark-lored) Zonotrichia leucophrys leucophrys/oriantha
White-crowned Sparrow (Yellow-billed) Zonotrichia leucophrys nuttalli/pugetensis
Orange-crowned Warbler (Gray-headed) Oreothlypis celata celata/orestera
San Pedro Tanager (undescribed form) Thraupidae [undescribed form]
Ibera Seedeater (undescribed form) Sporophila [undescribed form]
Mount Mutis Parrotfinch (undescribed form) Erythrura [undescribed form]