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eBird Review Standards

Every record entered into eBird is checked for accuracy, first by automated filters that flag the most interesting records, and then by expert reviewers who devote their personal time to ensure that your lists and the eBird database are as accurate as possible. We all owe a huge debt of thanks to these hard-working advocates for eBird. Three articles should be read by all eBird participants: We ask our reviewers to err on the conservative side: it is often better to leave a record as "possible" than to treat an erroneous record as confirmed. It is the responsibility of the individual reporting an unusual species to provide convincing documentation to the reviewer (see the elements of a bird description article for tips on how best to do this), and unusual records lacking documentation, from any observer, are unlikely to be treated as confirmed in eBird. It is very important to remember that if a sighting is not included in eBird, that doesn't necessarily mean that you didn't see the bird or that you "aren't believed"—just that there isn't sufficient supporting evidence to include the record in a global database that is used for science and conservation.

We do hold our reviewers to a high standard and expect their communications to be civil, courteous, and appropriate. Editors that are not appropriately respectful and courteous will have their review privileges removed. Please get in touch at ebird@cornell.edu if you have any experiences with the review process that do not conform to these standards. 

We also expect eBird users to treat our reviewers with respect. We know that independent parties will not always agree on how a given bird record will be treated or even on the identity of an excellent photo. This is OK: we can agree to disagree. eBird users that use abusive or threatening language in correspondence with our editors may have their accounts placed on probation. When an eBird account is placed on probation, records submitted will no longer be part of the review process, and since they cannot be vouched for, will not appear in eBird output (maps, bar charts, Top100, Yard/Patch etc.). Accounts are placed on probation if: 1) An eBird user is entirely unresponsive to reviewers; 2) An eBird user submits large volumes of problematic data and is unreceptive to reviewer recommendations to improve; 3) Abusive or threatening language is used in the course of correspondence; 4) Falsified documentation is provided to support a record, or sightings are fabricated in eBird. In all cases Team eBird will review the records and correspondence. It is extremely rare for an account to be placed on probation.

Review Tool and Filter Instructions (download below as .pdf)
All eBird reviewers are provided with our "Review Tools and Filter Editing" instructions. These teach not only the basics of how to use the eBird review tools but also state official policies on how to treat certain difficult situations. These files can be downloaded by anyone below.
Non-species recommendations for North American eBird checklist filters (download below)
Creating consistent filters across eBird is challenging because of the large array of taxa--including non-species taxa (e.g., subspecies groups, hybrids, intergrades, spuhs, slashes, domestics, and forms)--that are available in eBird. You can learn more about non-species taxa here. This document is excerpted from the "Review Tool and Filter Instructions" document and gives instructions specifically related to non-species taxa and Introduced species, as well as how to use the below files.

The below documents give regionally-specific recommendations for taxa to include on filters to strive for more consistency across eBird. These documents also give specific policies for all introduced species in North America. 

The below files are all downloadable as links at the bottom of the page.
  • Filter taxa recommendations: USA and Canada (.xlsx version) -- the "master" file
  • Filter taxa recommendations (abridged): USA and Canada (abridged .pdf version) -- code "A" taxa
    • Filter taxa recommendations: Alaska (subset of above; .xlsx)
    • Filter taxa recommendations: Coastal NW (subset of above; .xlsx)
    • Filter taxa recommendations: California (subset of above; .xlsx)
    • Filter taxa recommendations: Arizona and New Mexico (subset of above; .xlsx)
    • Filter taxa recommendations: Interior West (subset of above; .xlsx)
    • Filter taxa recommendations: East (subset of above; .xlsx)
    • Filter taxa recommendations: Texas (subset of above; .xlsx)
    • Filter taxa recommendations: Florida (subset of above; .xlsx)
    • Filter taxa recommendations: Hawaii (subset of above; .xlsx)
Outside of North America we recommend that editors attempt to follow the philosophies laid out in the "Review Tool and Filter Instructions" document and use the "Filter taxa recommendations: USA and Canada" as a general guide for taxa to include. We hope to develop policies for other regions of the world in the coming years.
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