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Media Upload FAQs

eBird Rich Media Upload FAQ


I have a terrible photo, should I upload it?

Is the bird marked as unusual in eBird, and can you tell what the bird is? If so, then yes! Even the worst quality photos are valuable if they can be used to establish the identification of the bird, whether it is a Rock Pigeon in a city, or the first record of a species for the country.

I want to put photos in the Checklist Comments of the habitat and a snake/deer/butterfly, why can’t I?

At this time, each photo is associated with a specific observation in a checklist. Due to the that the database is structured, we are not currently able to drag-and-drop images of habitat or non-bird fauna and flora into the checklist comments. This is something we will certainly be developing in the future. 

What about all the images I’ve embedded from other websites (e.g., Flickr)?

For now, we have no way to retrieve those images from those websites and embed them in your eBird checklists. If you want to include them in the new outputs and tools that will be developed around the Rich Media Upload, you will have to go back and personally enter them at this time. 

What is the copyright status of my media on eBird?

All your media is copyright YOU. The Cornell Lab is allowed to use media that you upload for not-for-profit uses in eBird, the Macaulay Library, and other Cornell Lab resources. Please see our licensing agreement here.  

Can I download media from the collection?

The Macaulay Library archive is primarily a data repository for research purposes. It is not an open repository of rich media available to the general public for any and all use. Assets in the collection are owned by the original author (e.g., photographer), and the copyright lies with each author unless otherwise indicated. It is not appropriate to download these assets for general third party use, without permission from the author. Red the full terms of use policy. For additional information on requesting and licensing media please visit here.

I uploaded my friend’s photo, and it has my name on it. How can I change that?

Photos are associated with the eBird account, and the rights to the photo belong to that account. If it is a photo from your friend, then you should share the checklist with them, and get them to upload it! eBird is 100% free, so there is no reason they can’t upload it on their own.

I see a photo that is inappropriate for eBird, what do I do?

Below each photo there is a “Report” button; click on that to open up the option to flag the image as “inappropriate/offensive.” This will notify eBird Central and action will be taken. This flag is meant to be used only for inappropriate content, not for photos of misidentified species. We'll be building in a process in the near future to handle the latter scenario.

Why can’t I upload more/larger files?

The limiting factor for any media hosting is the technology required to upload, process, and maintain the files that people contribute. When more than a quarter-million people have used eBird, this problem is one that we are very conscious of. The file limits of 10 per species and 10MB per image are actually quite liberal for a website that doesn’t exclusively host photos. As technology improves over the years, we may eventually increase these limits.

Why does it take so long to upload my images?

Several processes take place when you upload your photos to eBird. The first process is on your side, and the speed in which your files are transferred to eBird depends largely on your internet connection and bandwidth. If it’s taking a long time to load files, it means that there are limitations on the amount of information you can send across your internet connection. Faster connection speeds mean faster upload times. Bigger files take longer, so if your connection is slow, considering limiting the file sizes of your images/sounds to something smaller. The second process is on our end. Once we receive the file, we ingest it into the database, transcode the file to a smaller version for display, and send it back to the eBird checklist. This process usually happens instantaneously, but if there is a lot of traffic, it’s possible that your files will be put into a processing queue, which could result in minor delays. If a file isn’t uploading or the process isn’t completing in a timely manner, please let us know at

How do I upload images on shared checklists?

It’s important to understand that when someone shares a checklist with you, or you share with someone, your media will be visible to them, and theirs to you. This is a great feature, but it’s also important to understand that currently only 10 rich media files (photos or sound files) can be associated with each species on a checklist, regardless of number of observers. Therefore, if someone shares a checklist with you and a species already has 10 media files, you won’t be able to add any--at least not easily. In order to add 10 of your own files, you first have to ‘Edit’ the checklist, and then remove the media from the other observer. This won’t change the media that they see on their version of the checklist, but it will open up space for you to add your own media files to support the record. In the future we plan to make this process be more straightforward for shared lists.

Can I upload video to my eBird checklists?

The Macaulay Library currently archives selected exemplar videos from professional bird videographers, researchers, and trained Cornell Lab staff and students. eBird and the Macaulay Library are now exploring video upload capabilities to eBird checklists via the new eBird/ML Manage Media tool. During this exploratory phase, you may see video appearing on checklists from staff and users who are testing the process, as we work to determine the feasibility and functionality of video upload from additional members of the eBird community.
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