New Feature—eBird Checklist Sharing!

By jag73 October 19, 2009

Group birding at Great Pond, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

About Checklist Sharing

Checklist sharing makes
it possible to copy an eBird checklist to another user’s account. Each
user can edit the checklist to more closely match the species he or she
saw that day (but see the notes under “Editing a Shared
). This allows multiple copies of the same
checklist to be associated with a single birding event and ensures that
we do not create unnecessary duplicates for our scientific analyses. At
the same time, this gives our users the flexibility to make sure that
their personal records are accurate. We are excited about this release
for several reasons: 1) it will make data entry easier for eBirders
that bird in groups; 2) it allow us to more accurately describe your
group birding events; and 3) it provides an easy way to introduce
people to eBird.

When birding as part of
a group, we consider there to be two types of checklists: a Group
Checklist and an Individual Checklist. A Group Checklist is the
summation of the highest counts of each species seen by the group.
Thus, if one person in the group sees 8 White-Cheeked Pintails and 2
Black-necked Stilts, but the rest of the group saw 6 White-cheeked
Pintails and 3 Black-necked Stilts, then the Group Checklist would show
8 White-Cheeked Pintails and 3 Black-necked Stilts. When a shared eBird
checklist is accepted by another member of the group, a unique
Individual Checklist is created which can then be edited. In addition,
a Group Checklist is automatically created that is a summary of reports
by all members of the group, taking the highest value for each species
from each checklist. Although each user’s Individual Checklist will
remain unique within his or her personal account, the Group Checklist
that eBird uses for output (maps, graphs, bar charts) will be a
combined checklist for all individuals.

IMPORTANT: In order to
receive checklist sharing requests, it is essential to make sure that
your email address within eBird is up to date. You can edit your email
address, name, and other personal information by logging in and going
Edit my profile
(the link will not work if not logged in). Also,
check out My
eBird Preferences,
which is recently redesigned and allows you to
opt out of email alerts from Checklist Share requests and also allows
you to display species by their common name or scientific name.

How to Share a

When you submit a
checklist, you can share it immediately by clicking the “Share” link on
the top right of the final page (the page where you enter checklist

Additionally, any
checklist can be shared by clicking the “Share” link on the Manage My

Any of these links will open the Checklist Sharing page.
Simply enter the eBird usernames (preferable) or email addresses of the
friends with whom you wish to share the checklist. Write a message if
you wish, and click the send button.

This will send each
person an email and they will have the option to accept or reject your
shared checklist. If the individual does not yet have an eBird account,
eBird will prompt them to create an account where they can view and
accept the checklist.

It is preferable to use
the eBird usernames because this will automatically send the Checklist
Sharing to the correct email address and will automatically fill out
the person’s name. It will also allow you to mark this person as an
eBird “Friend”, which allows automatic checklist acceptance (this is
discussed further under the Manage My Contacts section below).

How to Accept or Reject a
Checklist Share Request

Checklist share
requests will come to you in an email from the checklist creator and
will have the subject line that contains your friend’s name, the
location, date, and start time of the checklist:

“Andrew Dobson has
shared an eBird checklist with you from McKinnon’s Pond, Antigua on Jul
21, 2009 – 8:45 AM”

Within the email will
be a link that will prompt you to sign in to your eBird account (be
careful if you have more than one eBird account!) and will import the
checklist to your eBird account. You will be brought to the My
Shared Observations
page where you will have a list of all shared
checklists that are pending or accepted. Pending checklists will have a
green button for “Accept” and a red button for “Decline”.  Note
that you may wish to accept the checklist and then delete it; this is
OK to do and accomplishes the same result as hitting the red “Decline”
button (i.e., the checklist is not imported to your account and will
not contribute to your lists.)

An alert on the My
eBird page also reminds you of pending share requests on your My
Shared Observations

It is important to
click the link in the email, because if your biridng companion did not
use your eBird username, the checklist will not be brought into your
“My Shared Observations” page unless you click on the link. However, if
your birding companion used your eBird username then the pending
request will be imported whether you click the link or not. This makes
it possible to turn of email alerts in
My eBird Preferences
if you wish not to receive these alerts from
friends who have your username.

checklist will not be brought into your account unless you click the
green “Accept” button.

Editing a Shared Checklist

It is very rare that
two birders on a bird walk together will see the exact same birds, so
please do edit the checklists so that they are a record of what you
saw. As with all eBird Checklists, it is possible to edit a shared
checklist by clicking the “View or Edit” link from Manage My
; you can also go to My Shared Observations
which provides a list of the Shared Checklists only.

If you wish to add or
change the comments, species, species count, or duration, please do so,
since you may want to personalize your records. Any species you add
that differ from other copies of the same checklist will be displayed
at the bottom under the heading “Species seen only by YOU”, while those
seen by others that are not on your list will also be shown. It is
possible to add or remove these species from your list with a single

Please make sure at least one of your friends has accepted the shared
checklist before you edit it. Otherwise, any species you delete will
not be visable to them. If you have entered species that you will later
want to delete, you might ask them in an email to let you know when the
checklist has been accepted.

IMPORTANT: If you spot
any errors in the date, location, or effort information (i.e., miles
traveled, acres covered), please ask the original checklist creator to
fix these and then re-share the list. If you alter them in your account
it will be corrected in your personal account and lists, but the master
checklist will always represent the date, location, and effort
information from the checklist owner. Obviously it is essential that we
have correct date, location, and effort information so please help to
make sure that your friends that share checklists with you also correct
these crucial fields.

Manage My

eBird maintains a list
of your contacts under the Manage My
page, which can be found on the My eBird page
on the bottom right of the page. This page shows a list of all people
with whom you have shared checklists and it is also possible to add a
contact by entering an email address or eBird username in the “Add a
Contact” box at the top of the page. Whenever possible, it is
preferable to enter an eBird username, which will be displayed in the
left column (username) and the individual’s alias (their real name)
will be displayed as well. Simply ask your friends for their eBird
username (log-in name). If you enter an email address but wish to
provide an “Alias”, please note that you can edit the “Alias” column.
Contacts can be deleted as needed.

When an eBird username
is provided, it is possible to mark an individual as a “Friend”. An
“eBird Friend” is defined as someone from whom checklist sharing
requests will be automatically accepted. Simply checking the “Friend”
checkbox will add them to your Friends list. When your eBird Friends
send you checklist sharing requests, you will not receive a sharing
request email and nor will you be required to accept them from the My
Shared Observations
page (although those checklists will still
appear there, they will have been automatically accepted.)

Birding at Gachette Reservoir, Guadeloupe

Birding at Gachette Reservoir, Guadeloupe

Share, share, share!

Field trips: Many NGOs
and nature centres around the region have regular bird walks and field
trips. If you lead or participate on one of these bird walks, consider
proposing that one person be assigned to collect email addresses (and
eBird usernames) for a checklist sharing at the end of the day. The
group could keep the bird numbers as a team and then the one volunteer
could enter the checklist and share it with all members of the bird
walk. The same approach could be applied to formal birding tours as
well. If you are birding multiple locations in a day, you can divide
the data entry among several people–one person can keep a list for the
first stop, another for the next two etc.

Your friends: If you
use and love eBird, consider going birding with a friend who does not
yet use eBird and share a checklist with her. She will be prompted to
log in and create an account and will already have the shared checklist
in her account. This may help the uninitiated to understand how eBird
can serve as a complete bird records keeping system and how they can
become part of the growing eBird Caribbean community.

It is our hope that
checklist sharing will be an easy way to introduce the uninitiated to
eBird. We still have large areas with little coverage and there are
many active birders we’d like to engage in eBird. So consider sharing a
checklist with your friends and giving them a nudge in our


Note: this article was first published on the main eBird portal on
November 11, 2008