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Entering Historical Data

The value of entering historical data into the eBird database cannot be overstated. These records help build historical perspective in the database, and allow us to look farther back in time when conducting analyses. In these cases it's good to have as much supporting documentation available for the old records as possible, and be prepared to field questions from our regional editors about the validity of the data. All eBird records are treated the same way, going through our data-vetting procedures, and historical data are no different. Historical data entry does have a few caveats:

Data Ownership

Any user can enter his or her old bird records into eBird by using their regular eBird account and simply changing the date on the data entry form to reflect the correct observation date. It may also be useful to enter data as a proxy for another observer, including those who do not have an account or have passed away. It is possible to have multiple accounts in eBird, so you can create a proxy account on another person's behalf. Ideally, you would use that person's name and make it clear in the checklist comments that the data are being entered by another party (or even name the account in a way that makes this clear). If the account covers records submitted by multiple observers, please use "Data" as the last name for the account (e.g., Historical Singapore Data or Quivira NWR Data"). For each record, be sure to have the observer's name in the checklist comments field. As the person responsible for entering an historical dataset, be prepared to vouch for the dataset.

Valid Contact Information

Make sure that there is a valid email address associated with the entry of any historical dataset.

Effort Information

Make sure that if effort information is available with these old data, that it is entered along with the records. The data will be more significant if there are effort data associated with the bird data. NEVER make up effort information. If you do not have effort information, and your primary purpose was not birding, report these as 'incidental' observations. If you do not have effort information, and your primary purpose was birding, report these as 'historical' observations. 

Count Information

Historical data is commonly missing count information or has only imprecise counts (e.g., 'present', 'a few', 'hundreds') to have imprecise or lacking count information, so please be careful to use an 'x' to indicate presence. If the count is an estimate, it is important to clearly indicate the number and that it is an estimate. If it is a range (e.g., '100-125'), please enter the lower number and include the full range in comments.

Supporting Details

​A real human being must be able to provide supporting details on questionable records entered into the database. Read more about eBird Data Quality.


If an historical account represents a single individual (e.g., "John James Audubon") then by all means the records should be part of the Top100. However, if the account represents records from more than one individual, we ask that you modify the "Preferences" (accessible from Explore Data or My eBird, at the top of the page) and make sure the account is opting out of the Top100.

Date Spans

​Often historical records contains spans of dates when a bird was present at a location (e.g., Streak-backed Oriole at Furnace Creek Ranch, CA, 6 November 1977 to 21 December 1977). In these cases it is appropriate only to report the bird to eBird on the dates when it was actually observed, not across the entire date span. If this information in unavailable, just use the first and last dates of its stay. Rarities are looked for and missed on many dates throughout their stays in a given area, and assuming a bird is present every day is unacceptable.
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