eBird Media Frequently Asked Questions

Adding photos and audio recordings

Types of media allowed

Rights and access to uploaded media

Additional questions

                                           Band-winged Nightjar chick

Band-winged Nightjar by Jhonathan Miranda/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab (ML28987481)

Adding photos and audio recordings

How do I add a photo or sound recording to my eBird checklist?

You can find our complete set of instructions on how to add photos and audio to an eBird checklist here

How do I add a photo or sound recording on eBird Mobile?

At this time, there is no way to add a photo or recording to your checklist through eBird Mobile. If you would like to upload a photo to your checklist using your phone:

1. Open eBird Mobile and tap Checklists (at the bottom of the screen) then select "Submitted"

2. Tap the checklist you want to add photos to

3. Tap "eBird.org" at the bottom of the screen

4. Select the green "Add media" button and follow our Add Photos and Audio instructions to upload your photos. You will be able to access and upload images from your phone's photo gallery.

If you don't see the green "Add media" button, make sure you are logged in to eBird; you should see your username in the upper right corner of the checklist page. 

Why can't I accept the media licensing agreement on my smartphone?

If you're uploading media for the first time on your phone, you will be asked to accept our Media Licensing Agreement. Some phone browsers may hide the "Accept" button when the phone is held vertically (portrait orientation). Try rotating the phone 90 sideways so your browser displays in landscape orientation; the agree and submit button should appear!

How do I upload images on shared checklists?

Adding media items to a shared checklist follows the same process as adding media to a personal checklist.

It’s important to understand that when someone shares a checklist with you, or you share with someone, you can see their media and they can see yours. However, they cannot edit or change your media, and you cannot change theirs. 

It's also important to understand that currently only 10 rich media files (photos or sound files) can be associated with each species on a checklist, regardless of number of observers. Therefore, if someone shares a checklist with you and a species already has 10 media files, you must first remove the media from the other observer(s). This won’t change the media that they see on their version of the checklist, but it will open up space for you to add your own media files to support the record. 

Types of media allowed

I have a “terrible” photo, should I upload it?

Is the bird marked as unusual in eBird, and can you tell what species it is? If so, then yes! Even the worst quality photos are valuable if they can be used to establish the identification of a bird. In the case of documenting a rare or unusual sighting, ANY photo is often better than no photo!

Can I upload photos of dead birds?

In short, no. eBird is intended for wild, living birds; in almost all cases dead birds should not be reported on your checklists. We make rare exceptions for particularly unusual records of national interest. If you think your record might qualify for an exception, please contact us first. Otherwise, please do not upload photos of dead birds. See our Best Practices for eBird checklists for more information.

What about photos of nests, eggs, feathers, tracks, etc.?

eBird is designed for observations of wild, living birds. To ensure we collect the highest quality data on when and where birds occur, we encourage you to only upload non-bird photos (e.g., photos of nests, eggs, feathers, etc.) when you also observed the birds themselves.

The "count" on your eBird checklist should reflect the number of wild, living members of that species you observed while birding. If you document a nest, eggs, feathers, etc. on your checklist but no wild, living member of that species, your count for that species should be 0.

MOST importantly, whenever you upload photos of nests, eggs, feathers, etc. to your eBird checklist - whether they also contain a living bird or not - please use the appropriate "tags" in the Manage Media tool (learn more about tagging photos).

Tagging a photo in Media Manager

Can I upload media from a different date or location to my checklist?

Every photo or audio recording you upload should have been taken, by you, at the exact date and location indicated on the checklist. Please do not upload photos or recordings that do not directly correspond with that checklist and, more importantly, never upload a photo from a different date or location as "proof" of a rare bird observation.

Can I upload video to my checklists?

The Macaulay Library currently archives selected videos from professional bird videographers, researchers, and trained Cornell Lab staff and students. If you are an experienced videographer who would like to participate in our limited video testing group, click here to learn more.

You may also see videos that were imported during the transition of media items from the Internet Bird Collection (IBC) to the Macaulay Library. These video items were previously archived, and most IBC users do not have the ability to upload new video items at this time. 

Why can't I upload non-bird photos to the Checklist Comments?

At this time, each photo is associated with a specific observation in a checklist. Due to how the database is structured, you are unable to upload images of habitat or non-bird fauna and flora into the checklist comments.

Why can't I upload more/larger files?

The current file limits are 10 photos per species and 10MB per image. The limiting factor for any media hosting is the technology required to upload, process, and maintain the files that people contribute. As technology improves over the years, we may eventually increase these limits. 

Rights and access to uploaded media

What is the copyright status of my media on eBird?

All your media is copyright YOU. The Cornell Lab is allowed to use media that you upload for not-for-profit uses in eBird, the Macaulay Library, and other Cornell Lab resources. We will not sublicense your photos or sounds to any third party for commercial use without your permission. Whenever the Cornell Lab uses your media, you will be attributed. Please see our licensing agreement here

Can I use photos from other people's eBird checklists?

The Macaulay Library archive is primarily a data repository for research purposes. It is not an open repository of rich media available to the general public for any and all use. Assets in the collection are owned by the original author (e.g., photographer/recordist), and the copyright lies with each author unless otherwise indicated. It is not appropriate to download these assets for general third party use, without permission from the author. Please read the full terms of use policy. For additional information on requesting and licensing media please visit here

Where are my photos and recordings stored and how can I access them?

The images uploaded to eBird through the media upload process are archived in the Macaulay Library. You can download the original files of your media by viewing the asset page (e.g. ML###) and clicking 'Download Original' in the lower right corner.


You can also download an organized spreadsheet of the metadata for your personal media assets in eBird/ML, much like with your eBird checklists themselves. Just go to your eBird Profile page and click 'View All' next to 'Latest Photos' or use the Media Search to access your media gallery by searching for your name under 'Contributor.' Once there, you can click the blue 'Save Spreadsheet' link in the top right corner and begin the download.

Macaulay Library media explorer highlighting Save Spreadsheet feature

Additional questions

Why does it take so long to upload my images?

Several processes take place when you upload your photos to eBird. There are two primary reasons it might take longer than expected to upload photos:

  • Slow connection: the speed in which your files are transferred to eBird depends largely on your internet connection and bandwidth. Faster connection speeds mean faster upload times. Bigger files take longer, so if your connection is slow, considering limiting the file sizes of your images/sounds to something smaller. 
  • The photo "ingestion" process: this occurs on our end. Once we receive the file, we ingest it into the database, convert the file to a smaller version for display, and send it back to the eBird checklist. This process usually happens instantaneously, but if there is a lot of traffic, it’s possible that your files will be put into a processing queue, which could result in minor delays. 

If a file isn’t uploading or the process isn’t completing in a timely manner, please let us know at ebird@cornell.edu. 

My audio recording still says "Processing audio" after several hours, what can I do?

If you see the “Processing audio” message a few hours after uploading a recording, please be patient and do not delete the file. Processing sound files so that they play quickly with a visual representation takes some time. We place audio files in a queue and process them in the order in which they were uploaded. There are several queues and some sound files are larger than others, so they don’t all move at the same speed. If you delete the file that you uploaded, you will make the process take longer for everyone, including yourself.

I uploaded my friend's photo and it has my name on it. How do I change that?

Photos are associated with the eBird account they are uploaded under, and the rights to the photo belong to that account. If it is a photo from your friend, then you should share the checklist with them, and get them to upload the photo! eBird is 100% free, so there is no reason they can’t upload it on their own.

What about all the images I've embedded from other websites (e.g., Flickr)?

If you uploaded your photos to Flickr and hyperlinked them to eBird checklists, you can use the eBird Flickr Importer to import your photos automatically from Flickr to eBird, replacing hyperlinks with media curated in the Macaulay Library. Please make sure to follow the tool's instructions closely!


For now, we have no way to retrieve images from websites other than Flickr and embed them in your eBird checklists. If you have media hosted at other sources and want to include them in in eBird, you will have to go back and personally enter them at this time. 

Chilean Flicker

Chilean Flicker by Joshua Covill/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab (ML173732531)