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Cannot find a species name in eBird

If you are trying to find a species name when entering a checklist in eBird, but can't find it, first we need to make sure you are searching in the right way. To search the entire list of birds in eBird, see this article, which describes how to use the "add a species" option. Please be aware that eBird data entry checklists have almost all expected species for an area, but you may have to click "rare species" to see the bird you saw on the list or to find it using "jump to species". Some expected options--like subspecies options, or "spuhs" like eagle sp. or ducks sp.--may not be on all filters, so need to be searched for in "add a species". Try searching for just part of the name (like "thrush" or "hawk").

Sometimes, the name you are looking for is not there because the name you are using does not exactly match.
The names of birds seem always to be changing. As new science comes out bird names may change because they are divided into two species; at other times, the names change to try to make things clearer or for other reasons (sometimes making things less clear!). First, try searching "add a species" for scientific name, if you have it. 

Below is a list of some of the most confusing bird names, organized by continent. This is not a comprehensive list. We recommend checking Avibase for anything not on this list. To use Avibase, just type the bird name you are looking for, open the species name, and look for a list that contains that bird name in some taxonomies and also contains the eBird version. Be sure to check the map link in Avibase (including the Avibase link to eBird maps) to make sure that the bird you think you saw occurs where you think you saw it. If it does not, you may not yet have found the right bird. If you are really confused, email us for help.

[Note: this is a draft article; we are working to make it more complete 18 Mar 2013]


Common Moorhen - This name is still widespread in field guides. If your notes refer to Common Moorhen, you saw either Common Gallinule (in North and South America) or Eurasian Moorhen (in Eurasia and Africa)

Common Snipe - Be very careful about entries of Common Snipe in North America. In about 2000, Common Snipe was split into Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago; Eurasia, Africa) and Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata). Almost the only place that Common Snipe has ever occurred in North America is westernmost Alaska islands (i.e., Pribilof, St. Lawrence, and Aleutian Islands). If you don't know the fine details to tell Common Snipe and Wilson's Snipe apart, you surely meant to enter Wilson's Snipe.

Xantus's Murrelet - This name is still widespread in field guides, but most guides show the differences between subspecies scrippsi and subspecies hypoleucus; in most areas, the latter is much rarer. The species were split in 2012 into Scripps's Murrelet (Synthiliboramphus scrippsii) and Guadalupe Murrelet (Synthiliboramphus hypoleucus). If you are unsure which you saw, please enter your sightings as Gaudalupe/Scripps's Murrelet.

Winter Wren - See "Europe" below.


Violaceous Trogon 
- The species formerly known as Violaceous Trogon in Central America is now the Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus); this is due to a three-way species split within the former species Violaceous Trogon.


Blue-crowned Motmot - This used to be considered a single widespread species, but has now been split into five species. Fortunately, range can be used to figure out which one you saw. Below are the ranges of the new species of motmots:
  • Trinidad Motmot (Momotus bahamensis) - Trinidad and Tobago only
  • Whooping Motmot (Momotus subrufescens) - central Panama east to w Venezuela and south (west of Andes) to nw Peru.
  • Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus coeruliceps) - Mexico to western Panama ONLY; NOTE: this species no longer occurs south/east of extreme western Panama!
  • Amazonian Motmot (Momotus momota) - Amazonian forest of South America
  • Andean Motmot (Momotus aequatorialis) - Subtropical Andes of Colombia and e Ecuador to subtropical e Peru
Thrush-like Schiffornis - Very complex division in this species, which is now split into six species.


Black Vulture - The bird sometimes known as Black Vulture in Europe is actually Cinereous Vulture in eBird.

Northern Shrike - Resident birds in southern Europe and North Africa are Southern Gray Shrike (Lanius meridionalis). This is a split from the widespread Northern Shrike, also known as Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor), which is an extremely rare winter visitor to Spain, southern France, and northern Africa where Southern Gray Shrike occurs.

Winter Wren - Split into three species in 2009, the species are Eurasian Wren (Eurasia), Winter Wren (eastern USA and Canada), and Pacific Wren (western USA and Canada). So please double-check any "Winter Wrens" in your notes from Eurasia or western North America!

Stonechat - In Europe, Asia, and Africa, make sure to check whether your Stonechats were European Stonechat (Europe mostly west of the Ural Mountains), African Stonechat (mostly sub-Saharan Africa), or Siberian Stonechat (most of Asia). Be aware that all three species overlap in parts of the Middle East.

Common Redpoll - Resident birds in mainland Europe refer to Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret); migrant Common Redpolls (Acanthis flammea flammea) may occur in winter in mainland Europe and should be carefully differentiated from Lesser Redpolls.


Black Wheatear - Be careful about entries of Black Wheatear in Africa. Another species, sometimes called White-crowned Black Wheatear, is known in eBird as White-tailed Wheatear.
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