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Adding Photos, Videos, and Recordings to Checklists

We are excited to report that it is now possible to embed photos within checklists from photo-sharing sites such as Flickr and Picasa! This not only makes the checklists look more attractive, but also makes it easier for reviewers to review and confirm your rare sightings. These images are viewable in eBird checklists (accessed via My eBird and point maps) and in eBird Alerts online, and are accessible to eBird reviewers, making their job much easier. For example, the Lark Sparrow pictured here will be easy to confirm, and so will the other rarities seen on this day, including a local mega-vagrant at this location -- House Sparrow! View checklist.

Here are a few more fun examples:

  1. Project Leader Brian Sullivan loves raptors. This checklist is a moving tribute that shows why! View checklist
  2. Project Leader Chris Wood visited Peru for the Congreso Nacional de Ornitología in fall 2011; not surprisingly, he made some time for birding between presentations: View checklist
  3. Not a rare bird (or a particularly good photo), but a cool sight from Project Leader Marshall Iliff! View checklist
  4. eBird regional editor Jeremiah Trimble provides some tubenose eye candy in this checklist from Australia. Be forewarned, this checklist is sure to make you jealous! View checklist

Clicking on images in these lists takes you right to the image on the website where it is housed. 

Before we tell you how to do this, we'd like to clarify how and when we'd like eBirders to use this functionality.

Guidelines for Photo Embedding

Although we want the photo embedding to be fun for eBirders and think it is a great way to document your rare finds or share a day's birding with friends, we do want to make a few recommendations for how best to use this functionality.
  1. Although it is possible to paste photo code in both your Checklist Comments (i.e., from the Date and Effort page in Step 2 of data entry) and Species Comments, we would like to ask that code for photos of birds be pasted in the species comments only. This ensures that they will be useful for documentation for that species.
  2. Photos in checklist comments might be of scenery, people and friends, or non-birds seen on your trip. Please use these as you see fit.
  3. Please limit your embedded photos to one or two examples per species. We don't currently have a limit to how many photos can be shown, but remember that when the photos are embedded using code from the photo sharing websites they should link back to that site. We recommend providing representative photos that are helpful for documentation; the full suite of photos can be posted to your website.
  4. It is very important that the photos you link to be of the actual individuals observed in the field. While it is not necessary that you have photographed the bird in question (i.e., they could be photos taken by a friend), posting photos of some other individual photographed somewhere else could be very confusing for reviewers, and other viewers, who interpret it as documentation of the bird you saw. Please use this feature to post images of the bird you observed.
  5. The photos look best using medium dimensions. Most websites will give you an option of what size to display the images. We recommend using medium dimensions (about 400 x 400 pixels, or so).
  6. It's important to realize that you cannot upload photos directly from your home computer to eBird--at least not yet! For now, a third-party photo sharing site must be used, but there are plenty of great free services for that available online, such as Flickr and Picassa.

Linking from Flickr

If you use Flickr (, a free service for hosting your photos, then displaying them in eBird is quite easy. Note however that the process for this changed slightly with Flickr's updates in late May 2013:
  1. Go to any of your photos uploaded to Flickr and click on the image to get the full view with the full set of options.
  2. At the bottom right of the photo there is a box with an arrow, indicating that it can be shared. Click on this and then select "Grab the HTML/BBCode" (the third of three options in the list).
  3. Select "Medium" size for the photos and make sure the HTML radio button is selected.
  4. Then select the text (one click selects it all), copy, and then paste this string of code into the eBird species comments.
  5. Once you hit save, your photo should appear. Please note that others will only be able to see your photos if you have them set as "public" in your Flickr settings.

Fig. 1. How to embed photos from Flickr. Click the share icon (colored pink in this image; it will be white until you click it) at the bottom right of the photo and you get a drop-down menu. Select the "Grab the HTML/BBCode" option and then click to select that text block. This is what you will paste in your eBird species comments.

Other Sites

It is possible to embed pictures from other photo sharing sites that provide HTML in this fashion. Look for this similar functionality and give it a try. If all else fails, or if you have a personal website, you can paste the URL into this bit of code and paste it into your eBird comments. Be sure to replace the instances of "http://imagefileurl/" with the actual URL to the image on your website!

If you also want viewers to be able to click on the image and go directly to the page where your image is stored, use the following:
<a href="imagesiteurl"><img src="http://imagefileurl/"></a>
and replace the instance of "http://imagefileurl/" with the actual URL to the image and change "http://imagesiteurl" to the URL of the site. Perhaps link to the page that shows other images of that species.

Sound and Video

It is possible to embed sound and videos from YouTube,Vimeo, Viddler, SoundCloud, Xeno-Canto, and Macaulay Library using the embed code provided for the videos and sound files from those sites. You can also link to them using HTML code. This will take you directly to the file in an outside site.
<a href="http://soundfileurl">Audio Recording</a>
Here is an example from eBird programmer and Caribbean coordinator Jeff Gerbracht; listen to that nuthatch recording and then compare it to U.S. Brown-headed Nuthatches. The call is so different, they must be different species! View checklist

Listserv Posting

If you post your sightings to your local listserv, this functionality makes it possible to post short notes with highlight birds, provide the links to the checklists, and for people to see the photos from within the lists. Although the "email" functionality within eBird has long been the best way to share eBird posts with a listserv, we would now recommend providing direct checklist links when possible. Just select the URL from your browser and paste it in and people should be able to link to it.


We have some processes in place to try to correct for potential cut-and-paste errors and to keep excessively large photos from displaying. In many cases these will be automatically corrected and the photo will show up just fine. In other cases, the photo may not show up, but the checklist should still display normally. Please let us know if photo embedding causes any problems for you.
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