eBird Alerts and Targets Frequently Asked Questions

How do I access eBird Alerts?

How do I subscribe/unsubscribe to email Alerts?

Why am I no longer receiving Alerts?

Why wasn't my observation included in the Alerts? 

What does confirmed vs. unconfirmed mean on Alerts?


What are the different types of eBird Alerts?

  • Rare Bird Alerts are recent reports of unusual birds in a specific county, state, province, or country. Best for: unusual species in your region

  • ABA Alerts are lists of American Birding Association (ABA) Code 3 rarities or higher reported from the US and Canadain the past 7 days. Best for: reports of national rarities for the US and Canada

  • Needs Alerts provide you with recent reports of species you have not yet observed in a region. Best for: finding news birds for your personal bird lists.

  • Target species are not an email Alert, but provide another way to find new species you have yet to observe in an area. Photo and Audio Targets are a special type of target list for species that you have yet to take a photo or recording of.


Combining Needs Alerts with Rare Bird Alerts is a great way to paint a complete picture of the rarities in an area as well as what species you might be personally interested in seeing.




Alerts and Targets Frequently Asked Questions


How do I access eBird Alerts?


Both Alerts and Targets can be accessed from the Explore tab of eBird.org under the "Species You Need" section. On these pages you can see all reports of noteworthy species in a region from the past 7 days.


eBird Alerts options

How do I subscribe/unsubscribe to email Alerts?


You can "View" an Alert on the Alerts webpage at any time. You can also choose to get daily or hourly Alert emails sent to your email address by clicking the green "Subscribe" button. 

How do I change my Alert preferences?

You can change the frequency between daily and hourly or unsubscribe directly from the main Alerts page at any time. You can also use the main page to unsubscribe from any Alert by clicking the "Unsubscribe" icon to the right of each Alert. 


Note: if you can't seem to unsubscribe from Alerts, it's because you're subscribed to duplicate versions of the same Alert through multiple eBird accounts. You will need to manage your subscriptions by logging in to each separate account. See here for more info on account troubleshooting.


Why am I no longer receiving Alerts?


If you unexpectedly stop receiving eBird Alerts:

  • Check to see if they are going to your Spam or Junk mail folder. You may need to mark our Alerts as "Not Spam" to receive them again. 
  • Verify the email address associated with your Cornell Lab account is up to date: My Account Settings
  • Check the Alerts and Targets pages (see "How do I access email Alerts" above) to ensure you are still subscribed under "My Alerts"


Remember that email Alerts are only sent out when NEW reports of rare or target species are submitted from the region(s) you signed up to receive Alerts for.


Why wasn't my observation included on Alerts?


See Rare Bird Alerts and ABA Alerts below for descriptions of which species are included on each type of Alert. In general, only recently reported species that are marked with a "Rare" icon - indicating they are unusual for that date and location - are included on Alerts. Learn more about how "Rare" species are flagged. Note that only species for which the filter limit is set to 0 will appear on alerts - flagged high counts will not.


If you're certain that your observation should appear on a Rare Bird Alert, but doesn't, please check your eBird preferences, and make sure that "Hide my data from eBird Alerts" is unchecked.


What does "Confirmed" vs "Unconfirmed" mean on Alerts?


To ensure timely notification of potentially exciting species, Alerts may be sent before observations have been reviewed by a local volunteer data reviewer. In other words, eBird Alerts will include both "Accepted" AND unreviewed observations.

Accepted records have "CONFIRMED" written next to the species name. If you do not see "CONFIRMED" next to a species in an email Alert (and/or an orange "Unconfirmed" on the Alerts page), the observation has not yet been reviewed by a local volunteer data editor.

Species that have been reviewed and unconfirmed by a reviewer are not included on Alerts.




Rare Bird Alerts


What species are included? eBird's Rare Bird Alerts notify you when any species flagged as “Rare” is reported in your region of interest for the past 7 days.


A bird that did not have a "Rare" icon next to it when it was reported will not appear on any Rare Bird Alerts. Learn more about how species are flagged "Rare".

eBird mobile rare


eBird website rare


When you sign up for state, province, or country-wide Rare Bird Alerts, you will be notified whenever a flagged "Rare" bird is reported anywhere within that state, province, or country. Species are considered "Rare" for their location and date. This means you may receive Alerts for birds that would not be considered rare elsewhere in that state/country, or at a different time of year.



ABA Rarities Alert


What species are included? The "ABA Rarities Alert" shows all American Birding Association (ABA)-level rarities recently reported in the US and Canada. "ABA Rarities" are defined as birds with ABA Codes 3, 4, or 5 on the ABA Area Checklist. Birds with these codes represent nationwide rarities for the ABA Area.


ABA Rarity Alerts are limited to species that are very difficult to find in the US and Canada. Local or regional rarities will NOT appear on the ABA Rarities Alert. For example, a Brandt's Cormorant may be very rare across most of North America, but the record wouldn't appear on the ABA Rarities alert since it is an expected bird in the Pacific Northwest.


Needs Alerts


What species are included? A "Needs" species is any bird you have not yet reported to eBird for that region. This could be a species you haven't found in your home county, or even species you still need for the entire country.


For example, a Needs Alert for Costa Rica would show you birds reported in the past 7 days that would be new for your all-time Costa Rica species list (i.e., birds you've never reported in Costa Rica - even if you've reported them elsewhere).


You could also sign up for Year Needs, which would include birds that would be new for your Costa Rica list this year - even if you reported that species in previous years. 

NOTE: Needs Alerts are region-specific, and may include birds you have already reported from other areas. It is not possible to get Needs Alerts for reports of species from one region that you need for a different region. For example, you cannot receive Alerts for birds reported in California that you need for the entire US. For these types of custom lists, see "eBird Targets" below.


Why can't I get Needs Alerts for some countries?

It is not possible to get country-wide Needs Alerts for the United States, Canada, or Mexico. This is because of database performance reasons related to high submission volumes from these countries. If you would like Needs Alerts in the US, Canada, or Mexico, please sign up for multiple state/province Alerts instead.


eBird Targets

Targets is the ultimate way to discover new birds in an area. Whether you’re birding nearby for a weekend or planning a vacation, Targets can help you find everything from your next year bird in your county to your next world life bird.


"Targets" creates a prioritized list of county, state, or life birds that you can expect to find in a region. Enter a region, range of months, and then select which of your personal life lists you'd like to compare against. eBird compares your selected list against the full species list for the selected region and months. 

The results can be sorted taxonomically or by frequency (the percentage of complete checklists that have reported the species). The higher the frequency, the more checklists contain that species, and the better your chances of finding it in that region!


Photo and audio targets are species you may have already reported, but have never uploaded a picture or sound recording of. To switch to Photo or Audio Targets, click the blue gear icon in the top right corner of the Target Species page.


Say you're traveling to Colombia this winter. You want to know what birds have been reported in Colombia that you've never observed anywhere before ("Life Birds"). Go to the eBird Targest page, enter "Colombia" for the region, "December" for the Time of year, and ask for birds that you need for your "World" "Life List". Voilà—you now have a list of the species that would be your most likely “lifers” in Colombia at that time of year. 



If you wanted to look closer to home, you could change the Region and "For your:" fields to match, and select "Life List" to "Month list" or even "Day list" to get a personalized list of species in your region that you've never before reported in that month or day. What new species can you add to your list of November birds? How many bird in your home state do you need for your May 1st species list? The possibilites are endless!