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Public and Not Public Checklists

Every observation that is submitted to eBird is checked by our data quality process. Most eBirders understand that we check the species identification for rare species (or high counts) so that we can confidently show records of rare birds on maps, eBird Alerts, Region and Hotspot summaries, and other output. We use automated filters to identify unusual sightings and have a team of 1500+ experts from around the world who help review documentation (learn how to document your rarities) and mark the sightings either as Accepted or Unconfirmed.

However, before the species review process we check to make sure that the checklist itself meets standards for public display and scientific use. For checklists that have problems with the location, date, protocol, or effort, these may be marked as Not Public. Any checklist marked Not Public will not be shown in public eBird output and will not be used for science; however, any sightings on those lists will still appear in your personal lists and list totals.

Note also that media uploaded to your eBird checklists will not be shown in Macaulay Search tools and other media products (Illustrated Checklist, Quiz) unless they are part of a Public eBird checklist and uploaded to a species that is considered Accepted.

Any checklist marked as Not Public will have a clear message at the top that indicates what the issue is. A hyperlink to More Information will give more information on the specific issue and how future data entry can be improved. In some cases, a checklist can be corrected as re-added to the Public dataset.

Below is a summary of the messages that may appear at the top of the checklists. Some Location issues can be corrected, so that the data can be shown publicly, so we give some links to helpful articles on how to correct your checklist locations.
 

LOCATION ISSUES 


The most common issues with checklists are Location issues. These may be identified automatically by eBird (Regional Locations, Distance too long) or by eBird reviewers (Location issue). Users that find checklists that have been tagged as having a Location Issue who wish to correct it to make their data available for Public display and science use must first make sure to understand the issue. Then if the issue is corrected, the data will become public again.

To fix a Location issue with your eBird checklist please see our two articles: How do I change the location of a checklist and How do I merge a personal location with a hotspot. These articles help explain how to correct locations from the checklist page or the "Manage My Locations" page, which can be found on the right side of the My eBird page.

Specific Location issues that you may see on checklists are the ones below. For any of the below issues, checklists should not be changed to more specific locations or distances unless the entire checklist represents birding at that location for a specific date. 
 
Regional Locations. These are automatically tagged as either Country-levelState-level, or County-level when eBirders use "Select an entire city, county, state, or country" from eBird data entry on the web. It is OK to enter data in this way, but these data only appear in your personal account and are not used for Public eBird display or for scientific output. If you have an important sighting, please use a more specific location. More information.
 
Distance too long. This is applied automatically by eBird for any checklists longer than 80.47 km (50.0 miles). Long checklists should be broken down into smaller chunks of no more than 25 km (15 mi) or, ideally, no more than 8 km (5 mi). More precise locations are always more useful for eBird; long checklists are only shown publicly in eBird when they cover large areas of uniform habitat (e.g., pelagic trips, extensive grasslands or deserts) and those lists should also be more site-specific when possible and should never exceed the maximum values listed here. More information.
 
Location issue. This message will appear if a reviewer has noticed an issue with the location. Often this is because the location was not plotted correctly (for example, plotting a personal location in an incorrect place instead of using the established hotspot which is correctly plotted). Very long distance counts or locations plotted that are very imprecise can also be tagged in this way. More information.
 

OTHER CHECKLIST-LEVEL ISSUES 

 
List-building checklist. Some eBirders submit an entire life list or trip list as a single checklist and never intend these data to be used by science or eBird Public outputs. Please use the date of 1 January 1900 and follow these instructions if you submit a List-building checklist; eBird will automatically treat 1 January 1900 lists as Not Public. [If you have a legitimate Historical checklist from 1 January 1900, please email us at ebird@cornell.edu so we can mark that list as Public]. More information.
 
Multi-party checklist. eBird checklists should be collected by a single birding party that stays together during the checklist. If the birding party splits into two or more groups that are birding separately, then each group should keep its own checklist. For organized tours or pelagic trips, it is best to have one person keep the checklist and share with others. More information
 
Duplicated submission. Checklists that represent the same birding outing or same bird sighting, by the same observer, at the same date and time may be marked as a Duplicate Submission. These checklists and observations do not appear in public eBird outputs. More information.

Imprecise Date. eBird lists should include only one calendar day. Checklists that include more than one day of sightings should be separated into site-specific sightings for each day or, for life list entries, submitted following our life list building instructions. More information.

Hidden checklist. Observers have the option to Hide checklists from public view. This excludes the checklist from public view, scientific use, and eBird review. We recommend that users Unhide lists once there is no longer a concern about keeping them hidden. Once a list is Unhidden, it goes through the eBird review process and can be shown publicly and used for science again. More information.

Protocol issue. This reason may be used to identify checklists that do not properly follow an eBird protocol. Misuse of the Banding, Pelagic, and Nocturnal Flight Call Count protocols are the most common reasons for this checklist issue. More information.

Checklist issue. This rare reason may appear for issues with checklists that are not otherwise covered above or may represent checklists that have multiple issues, such as checklists with issues with Location, Date, Protocol etc.. More information.
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