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What Data are Appropriate?

This feature describes the kinds of data appropriate for eBird, provides some tips for data entry, and warns about the problems associated with certain kinds of birding and historic data.

Your Personal Bird Records

eBird is most interested in your personal bird observations. Every time you raise your binoculars you are collecting valuable information on bird distribution and abundance. When you tell us specifically how you went birding by associating effort information with your checklists, your data become that much more powerful for analyses. As birders, we collect vast amounts of data on a daily basis. From a daily walk in the park, to a guided bird workshop at a shorebird hotspot, just about any kind of birding event represents valuable data that should be captured in eBird.

Bird at a Specific Location

eBird uses information based on the specific location where you were birding to associate the birds you report with habitat on the ground for analysis. As such it is important that you understand the significance of being as precise as possible when plotting your location on the map. Traveling counts should be limited to homogeneous habitats (e.g., creosote desert, short-grass prairie), and ideally not be longer than 5 miles. Exceptionally long counts are not as useful for rigorous analysis, nor are traveling counts that span a broad diversity of habitats. The idea is to link the birds you report with specific habitats (which we do through our mapping tool, remote sensing, and GIS layers) and keep that in mind it's best to enter several checklists from more refined locations than it is to enter a single checklist for a very large area (e.g., Rocky Mountain National Park) or an exceptionally long traveling count (>5 miles in heterogeneous habitats). Read more about count types here.

Birds on a Specific Date

Multiple-day bird lists should not be entered into eBird for a single date. If you have a list that spans multiple days, perhaps from an old trip, enter it using our How to Upload your Life List guidelines. By ensuring that sightings are being entered from only one day, eBird data are able to inform changes in distribution and abundance throughout the year. Is one species coming back earlier in spring than it used to? Are some birds spending longer on their breeding grounds in the summer? These are some of the reasons why we require sightings to be from a specific date.

Avoid Day Lists

The "day list" is something that is well-known and historically ingrained in the birding community. It's pretty simple: you keep a single checklist for the day no matter how far you traveled, or how many places you've visited. At eBird these kinds of checklists are only valuable for the simplest analyses conducted at the largest scales. In order to make your data more meaningful you should keep individual checklists for each location visited throughout the day, and report the birds from each location to eBird separately. We know, this sounds onerous--and in truth at times it can be. But most of us don't bird 20 locations in a day, it's usually more like 2-5. Once you get used to keeping more detailed notes you'll find that it's more rewarding personally as a birder, and your data then become of the highest possible value to eBird analysts.

Avoid Trip Lists

The "trip list" is something that is well-known to most birding tour participants. While this is a good concept for listing purposes, we need more resolution for these data to be useful in eBird. eBird can only accept data from a specific date and location so trip lists must at least be broken out into single day counts. Even then, to make the most of your tour, your effort and your data, recording birds at each stop on your trip provides the greatest resolution, satisfaction, and analytical utility for your data.

No Remote Sensed Images or Video 

NestCams and FeederCams are not appropriate for eBird. The differences in detection rates between what you can see or hear over a video feed, differs greatly from what you can detect in the field. Right now eBird does not have a good way to examine these differences. Please do not enter any data from nest cameras, feeder cameras, or videos of people traveling around filming birds.

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What Counts

​Fledglings, ducklings, gosling, nestlings and baby birds of all types count. Eggs do not count.

Introduced species should be reported, but will count on your lists. In the future we plan to give the option to selectively remove these species from selected lists.

Only include living birds. In the long run we hope to gather information on dead birds, but at this point eBird is intended only for living birds.

Do not report captive birds. You may report wild birds you see at outdoor zoos, but do not include caged birds, pinioned waterfowl, or birds that are part of the collection. As a general rule, birds at zoos that are not known to be wild should not be reported.

Also see "Multi-party Counts" and entering "Historic Data" for some caveats.
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