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eBird Quick Start Guide

​Thanks for joining eBird! We welcome your participation in the project, and we hope you find it rewarding to become part of our family of thousands of birders who are providing millions of records each month from around the world. Your contributions are a critical part of the puzzle, and every record you submit is a valuable piece of information. Below are some basic data entry tips, and eBird concepts that are important to understand.

​The most effective and useful way to get your data into eBird is at the site level. Each time you go birding you should try to keep a complete checklist of birds with estimated counts of each species, and try to limit your checklists to fairly refined geographic areas (e.g., your yard, a local park, a favorite birding location). eBird has the ability to accept data at the county and state level, but these broad-scale observations are harder to work with for analysis, and eBird really thrives on site-specific bird information.

The more specific you are about your locations, the better the My eBird tools are at building your lists, so it's a nice mutually beneficial relationship. There is no limit to the number of locations you can have, and a good general rule for eBird is that the more specific you are with your site information the better. More information about this topic.

​To enter your data into eBird:

  1. Go to the 'Submit Observations' tab at the top of the page.
  2. Enter your country, state, or county into the Find it on a Map search option.
  3. On the map that opens, use the 'search' option at the top of the map to find a more specific location. You can type your address in here to zoom in on your house, or you can enter coordinates from a GPS, and you can even search for other landmarks of interest. You can also just use the controls on the map to pan, and zoom in or out. To quickly zoom in on an area hold your shift key down and then draw a box on the map with your cursor.
  4. Once you are zoomed in to the area where you made your observations, you can click on the map to create a new location, or if there is an eBird Hotspot marker very close by, choose that for data entry by clicking on it. eBird Hotspots are simply existing public locations where many birders are entering data. You can use these if they accurately represent the location where you were birding, or you can create a more specific new personal location. If you create a new location, give it a sensible name and then click 'Continue'. If your new location should be an eBird Hotspot, select the 'suggest as a birding hotspot' box, but make sure not to duplicate a hotspot that already exists on the map.
  5. The next step is a way for you to tell us 'How' you went birding. In other words, were you walking a trail, sitting in one place, etc. Most birders are performing some kind of 'traveling count'; in many cases very short ones. A walk around the block in your neighborhood could be a 'traveling count' of .5 miles. Also pay attention to duration, i.e., the time you spent birding in the field. These things matter for analysis – the importance of the details of distance and time cannot be overstated. There is a big difference between covering 10 miles in 10 hours and seeing 10 Black-capped Chickadees, or covering 1 mile in 1 hour and seeing 10! This information helps us analyze your data, and it really adds value to your observations. More information about protocols and how to make your checklists more meaningful can be found here.
  6. The next step is the checklist page. Here you can use the "Jump to Species" box to quickly type and find the birds you'd like to report. You can type in species common names, and you can even put in things like 'eagle sp.' if you were unsure of a bird's identity. If you can't find the species you're looking for on the checklist, use the 'Add a species' box to search our taxonomy. Ideally you report estimated counts for each species, but some people prefer to put 'X' to indicate 'present'. There are many reasons why counts are better, and those are elucidated here. More data entry tips can be found here.
  7. At the bottom right there is a very important question: "Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify?". We want to find out whether you are reporting all the birds you were able to identify to the best of your ability. Answer "Yes" to this question when you record every species present that you found; not just the highlights. We realize that all birds are not identifiable and user abilities vary. You should always answer 'Yes' to this question unless you are purposefully excluding some species (e.g., European Starlings) from your checklist. You do not need to count all the individuals present to answer 'Yes' to this question (you can enter 'x' for species you observed but did not count). Please do try to report all species; it improves our ability to analyze your data. More discussion about this information is here.
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