We designed eBird Mobile to be the fastest and smoothest data entry method in eBird. Besides rapid-start checklists, eBird Mobile has more features that will speed things along for you. Here are some tips and tricks to get the most convenient experience with eBird Mobile.
Learn how to...
The King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise has one of the longest names of any bird. Use eBird Quick Codes to add it to your checklist faster!
King-of-Saxony Bird-of-Paradise by Bradley Hacker/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab (ML 106931681)
Enter mobile observations faster
Several eBird Mobile features let you enter lots of species and numbers with great speed and little effort.
In most cases, you don't need to enter the full name of the bird to find it on your checklist. "Quick Entry" uses the search bar at the top of eBird Mobile, and keeps a running tally of your observations as you enter them.
To use Quick Entry: type the number of a species that you saw or heard, followed by a space, then start typing any part of the species name. eBird Mobile will filter your checklist as you type. When the species you observed appears on the list, just tap its name to add the number you typed to the running count for that species.
You don't need to know the full species name. You can type "5 goose" to pull up all the birds that have "goose" in their name, then add 5 to the tally of whichever species you tap on. You could also type "5 canada", which might pull up Canada Goose, Canada Jay, and/or Canada Warbler depending on your location and time of year.
If you see a group of Herring Gulls while eBirding, type "10 herr", and the list will filter to just the Herring Gulls.
Tap on the species name when it appears, and it will add 10 Herring Gulls to your tally. If you see 30 more Herring Gulls later, you can type "30 herr.” When you tap on the name "Herring Gull", your total will update to 40.
You can also subtract using Quick Entry. Just type a negative number before the species name in the search bar. For example, to subtract 5 Herring Gulls from your tally, type "-5 herr" in the Quick Entry bar. Tapping on the name "Herring Gull" will remove 5 individuals from your total count.
Quick Find Codes
Did you know: you can enter a species on your checklist with just four letters? Quick Find Codes are a simple set of rules to generate a four-letter code for ANY bird in the world! Here are the rules we use to generate four-letter Quick Find Codes. Please note these currently only work for scientific and English common names.
If your bird name has....
- One word: The code is the first four letters of the bird name.
Examples: Gadwall = GADW; Willet = WILL
- Two words, excluding hyphenated terms: Use the first two letters of the first word and the first two letters of the second word.
Examples: Common Tern = COTE; Spotted Redshank = SPRE; House Sparrow = HOSP
- Three words, including hyphenated terms: Treat hyphens as spaces. Use the first letter from each of the first two words, then the first two letters of the last word.
Examples: Red-winged Blackbird = RWBL; South Polar Skua = SPSK; Long-tailed Jaeger = LTJA
- Four or more words: Just type the first letter of each word, treating hyphens as spaces.
Examples: White-winged Black-Tyrant = WWBT; Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill = BAWC; King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise = KOSB
To add 30 Herring Gull to your list, you could type "30 hegu" instead of "30 herr".
Quick Find Codes can be used to enter data on eBird Mobile as well as eBird.org. These codes are similar to "traditional" Banding Codes (which also work in the Quick Entry bar), but eBird Quick Find codes simplify cases of conflict between similarly named species.
In cases where multiple species share the same code, all species with the same code will be shown as long as they are not flagged "Rare" for that location and date. For example: "NOSH" might show both Northern Shoveler and Northern Shrike. "RNPH" could pull up both Red-necked Phalarope and Ring-necked Pheasant. "GRSH" could refer to Great Shearwater, Gray Shrikethrush, or Great Shortwing - but only the expected species for your location will be shown.
Alternate English Common Names: all English common name translations are indexed as Quick Find codes, so RLHA works for Rough-legged Hawk in English (US) while RLBU works for Rough-legged Buzzard in English (UK).
Scientific Names: Quick Find codes also work for scientific names, so "TUMI" will pull up Turdus migratorius (American Robin) and "BULA" works for Buteo lagopus (Rough-legged Hawk)
Quick Codes for Other Languages: We do not yet have Quick Find Codes for non-English common names.
Sort species by what's expected in your area
Smart Sort organizes the species entry list by how often species are reported on complete checklists within a given area, so the common and expected species in your area are closer to the top of the list.
Smart Sorting works when there are at least 25 complete checklists in the last 3 weeks from a 20x20km grid square where your checklist is located. If there aren't 25 recent, complete checklists within 20km, a 60x60km grid square is used instead, and then 100x100km if necessary. If there are not 25 recent, complete checklists at 100km resolution, Smart Sort will default to the regional level.
To sort your checklist using "Smart Sort": start a checklist in eBird Mobile and tap the three stacked bars on the bottom of the screen (across from the "Review" button). Tap "Smart sort" in the pop-up window so that a check mark appears next to it, then tap "Close". To return to the default Taxonomic sorting, repeat this process but tap "Taxonomic sort" instead.
Notes on Smart Sort:
- Non-species taxa, including "spuhs" and "slashes" (e.g, 'Downy/Hairy Woodpecker' and 'woodpecker sp.') are always listed at the bottom of Smart Sort under "Unreported & Non-species Taxa"
- A well-observed rarity reported by many observers may appear more frequent than it really is; this will resolve over time as more checklists are collected
Understanding the colored circles next to species names
You may notice orange or red circles next to some species on your checklist. These indicate whether a species is infrequent or unrecorded for your location and date.
No dot: Common. Species reported on 6% or more of checklists from that grid square and time period*
Orange half-circle: Infrequent. Species reported on at least one, but fewer than 6% of all checklists in that grid square and time period*
Red dot: Unreported. Species not previously recorded on any checklist in that grid square and time period*
* The "time period" is the past 10 years of data for the 3-week period centered on the current week. The "grid square" is the fixed 20x20km square in which the checklist occurs, unless fewer than 25 complete checklists have been submitted from that square in the last 3 weeks, in which case a 60km grid is used, then 100km, and then the regional level.
Red dots vs. Rare species
Not all "red dot" species are flagged as "Rare" (marked with the letter "R" in eBird Mobile). Whether a species is "Rare" is determined by regional filters set by volunteer data editors. Click here to learn more about Rare bird filters.
Unlike the "Rare" designation, which is defined by a filter for the entire region, colored dots on eBird mobile are determined by the proportion of complete checklists containing that species at the local level. Species with red dots have not been reported on any checklists from that area and 3-week period in the last 10 years, but may not be unusual enough to be considered "Rare" by eBird's data filters.
Use and edit mobile GPS tracks
eBird Mobile uses GPS tracks to automatically record distance information for you, so you can focus on the birds instead of how far you traveled. Plus, you and anyone you share the checklist with will be able to see an exact record of where you went birding!
Editing your mobile GPS track
While you cannot change your path, you can change where the track starts and ends along your route. The eBird Science team uses GPS tracks to obtain more precise bird location information. Therefore, GPS tracks should only be edited to ensure they more accurately represent your birding route.
GPS tracks can only be edited after stopping the track and before the checklist is submitted. To edit a GPS track on eBird Mobile:
- After stopping the checklist, press the green "Review" button
- Tap the rectangular green map icon next to the distance estimate
- Tap the pencil icon in the lower corner of the map box. (If this icon is not green, the GPS track cannot be edited, either because the track is still running OR the checklist has already been submitted)
- A screen will display your route with a blue slider at the bottom. Move the circles along the bottom slider to indicate the actual start and end points of your birding trip.
- Move the filled circle on the left side of the slider to change where your track begins.
- Move the empty circle on the right side of the slider to change where the track ends.
- As you move the circles, the segment(s) of GPS track to be removed will be highlighted red, and both the duration and distance of the trip will be adjusted. Move the circles on the slider until only the the portion of your GPS track that you spent birding is blue.
Delete a GPS track
Because of the valuable location precision contained within GPS tracks, we discourage deleting tracks unless they entirely misrepresent your birding route. If only part of the route is incorrect, consider editing the track instead.
WARNING: If you delete a GPS track, the automatically calculated distance and duration of that checklist will be deleted as well. This cannot be undone!
GPS tracks can only be deleted after stopping the track and before the checklist is submitted. To delete a GPS track:
- After stopping the checklist, press the green "Review" button
- Tap the rectangular green map icon next to the distance estimate; a map with your GPS track will appear
- Tap the trash can icon in the right-hand corner (If this icon is grayed out, the GPS track cannot be deleted, either because the track is still running OR the checklist has already been submitted)
- You will be asked to confirm you really want to delete the GPS track. Again, please only do this if the entire track is inaccurate.
GPS Track FAQs
What if I 'backtracked' or repeated a portion of my route?
If you retrace your steps, "backtrack", or go out and back on the same trail - leave your GPS running the entire time, but report only the unique distance traveled in the "Distance" estimate. Learn more about reporting backtracking or out-and-back routes.
Who can see my GPS tracks?
How does eBird use my GPS tracks?
The eBird Science team uses data from eBird Mobile GPS tracks to obtain more precise location information for analyses published on the eBird Science page. This use is strictly limited to scientific research.
Do I need cell reception to use GPS tracks?
You do not! Modern smartphones include built-in GPS that operates even in "Airplane mode" or when cell reception is unavailable. This means you can still calculate your distance traveled in remote areas. Note that some tablets do not include a built-in GPS and must have reception or wifi to obtain location services.
How do I turn off the GPS track?
You can disable the eBird Mobile GPS track before starting a checklist by sliding the "RECORD TRACK" bar on the app front page to the left, so it changes from green to gray. A pop-up notification will ask you to confirm you want to turn off the GPS track for that checklist. We discourage disabling GPS tracks. Tracks help you calculate distance accurately, and each track contains valuable information about where you observed birds!
Can I permanently turn off GPS tracks on eBird Mobile?
The eBird Mobile app is designed so GPS tracks cannot be permanently turned off; you can only disable GPS tracks for individual checklists. This is because eBird Mobile GPS tracks contain the most precise information on where you went birding and provide important location data for eBird Science products.
Will using GPS tracks drain my battery?
Our extensive testing has found turning GPS tracks "On" or "Off" does not significantly impact iOS battery performance. The greatest factor in battery life on any mobile device is the amount of time the screen is on. To preserve your battery while using eBird Mobile, turn the screen off when you are not actively entering birds on your checklist. Your checklist data is safe when the screen is off, and even when the app is running in the background.
See bird names in your preferred language
eBird supports a wide variety of common name translations, making it easy to find bird species by the names you use for them. This preference is set separately on the eBird Mobile app. See here for how to set your common name preference.
Share checklists from eBird Mobile
Share your checklist with other members of your birding party in a single tap! Sharing checklists is easy with eBird Mobile. Simply increase the number of observers and tap the "Share checklist with..." option. Learn more and get step-by-step sharing instructions here.
Whether you call this a Rough-legged Hawk (RLHA) or a Rough-legged Buzzard (RLBU), you can add it to your eBird checklist with just four letters!
Rough-legged Hawk by Alex Wiebe / Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab (ML 189191031)