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Adding Photos and Audio to eBird Checklists

Your photos and audio recordings are incredibly valuable, so in collaboration with the Macaulay Library, we developed a tool that allows you to upload your photos and recordings directly to your eBird checklists: storing your images for free, documenting sightings for decades to come, and supporting many other exciting tools including the Merlin Bird ID app, Birds of North America, Neotropical Birds, and All About Birds.

Each photo and sound added to your eBird checklists automatically becomes a part of the Macaulay Library’s valuable scientific research collection. By adding media to eBird/ML, you can make an even bigger difference for ornithology and conservation. 


Quick Links: 
General Media Guidelines
Photo Specific Guidelines
Audio Specific Guidelines
How do I upload media?

Media Upload FAQ​

Hooded Merganser by Jacob Collison/Macaulay Library (ML48676611

General Media Guidelines

  • Media you upload must be your own and adhere to the media licensing agreement.
  • Media upload must be of the actual bird(s) you're reporting, not a similar bird or someone else’ media.
  • Upload media for all birds, rare and common alike, as long as they’re identifiable.
  • Don’t add non-bird media, but nests/eggs, habitat shots, and sketches are alright.
  • Rating photos & audio helps curate the archive. Even if the media is not top quality, media of any rating has value once archived. See our guidelines for rating photos and rating audio
  • Add comments to your media to give specific info about the subject bird(s). Media comments refer to that specific asset or file, whereas the species comments refer to that entire observation, which is often not just the bird that you photographed or recorded.
  • Add age & sex info for the subject bird(s) if possible. You can search specific age/sex categories using the Media Search tool.
  • Enter additional species also present in the media whenever applicable. 
  • Add tags to your media whenever applicable. See our tagging guidelines here.
  • Upload multiple media (max 10 per species), but only if they are sufficiently different (see below).

Photo Specific Guidelines

Please see the Photo Guidelines and Best Practices page for more details. 

  • Crop and edit your images before uploading, but do not over crop or over edit them.
  • Upload full-resolution images, as long as they are JPG and under 10 MB each.
  • Don’t add watermarks or other text to images. Your media will always credit your name.
  • Don't upload composite images or back-of-camera photos.

Audio Specific Guidelines 

Please see the Audio Guidelines and Best Practices page for more details and tutorials.

  • Record and submit .WAV files, which are higher quality than .mp3 or .m4a.
  • Trim the beginning and end of the sound file to eliminate handling noise.
  • Normalize the bird sounds to -3dB and voice announcements to -10dB.
  • Group files recorded from one individual together in the same file.
  • Avoid filters and cosmetic editing; minimal editing is best.
  • Including voice announcements with information such as age, sex, and behavior.

How do I upload my media?

Manage Media allows you to quickly add media to your eBird checklists and simultaneously edit multiple photos and recordings. This enables you to rapidly add ratings, comments, behaviors, background species, and more to your media.  

  1. Record or take a picture of a bird.

  2. Download the media to your computer.

  3. Lightly edit the file as desired (see our guidelines for photo and sound editing).

  4. Go to your eBird checklist containing the record for that specific bird (any photo/sound you upload must be of the actual bird(s) you're reporting-- not a bird you saw like it or someone else's photo).

  5. Click “Manage Media” in the top right of any checklist to begin adding media.

  6. Upload media by clicking “Add Media” or drag and drop the file on the observation.

  7. Use the sidebar on the right to add ratings (see our guidelines for rating photos and rating audio), comments, behaviors and background species, and more.

  8. Repeat as desired.

  9. Click “Done” in the top right to return to the checklist once the changes are autosaved.

10. Bask in the beauty of your checklist!
Quick Tips for Faster Tagging:

  • Use the View icons in the top left to filter down to all media, only photos, or only audio.
  • To select a range of media, Click, then Shift + Click the asset at the end of the range.
  • To select/deselect individual media, use Ctrl or Command + Click. 
  • ​To select all media, use Ctrl or Command + A. 

​​**Important!** While uploading media, DO NOT edit another checklist. This will cause current media uploads to fail.

Sharing Checklists with Media

Your media will be visible on your friends' copies of shared checklists too (even if it's uploaded after sharing), so there's no need for them to try to upload the same file to their checklist. Only the person who created the media can upload it for copyright reasons. 

There is a 10 file limit for each species on a checklist. You can remove your friend’s photos/recordings from your version of the checklist to make room by clicking the "Delete" button next to one of their files. Only the owner of the media can delete their media, so when you delete media from your view, you will not be deleting the owner’s media from their checklist.   

Changing ID

To change the identification of observations and media in your checklists, open the checklist, click "Edit Species List," and use the "Change Species" button under "Show Details" to change the entire observation or just its media; use the "Change Species" button next to each photo or audio file to change that individual asset.

Multiple Images or Recordings of the Same Species

We encourage you to add multiple photos that show different individuals, parts, angles, or behaviors of the species as well as photos illustrating different individuals seen while you are out birding. However, multiple images should illustrate differences and not be nearly identical frames from the same burst of shots.  

Recordings of different vocalizations and sounds from one or more bird(s) of the same species are also extremely valuable. Group all sounds from a single individual together in the same file before adding it to your eBird checklist. In the checklist view, media will sort in the order in which they finish uploading. If the order of media in your checklist is important to you, make sure to upload files sequentially. 

Multiple Species in the Same Image or Recording

Currently each media asset must be uploaded to only one species. Use the Additional Species field to tag other species present in the media. An additional species can only be selected if it is also reported on the checklist to which you’re uploading media. If you have photos emphasizing different species in the group, upload these to different species as you see fit. Uploading identical photographs to two or more different species is not encouraged.

Media Upload FAQ

If you have any more questions, please see the list of frequently asked questions here. Thanks for reading! Now have fun uploading your images to eBird and the Macaulay Library, or get started exploring all photos from eBirders here.

help@ebird.org
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