One of the fundamental ideas of eBird is to allow birders to make their observations available to birders, researchers, conservationists, and educators around the world. Occasionally, however, birders may want to contribute to eBird while keeping their information private. Below we discuss:
Data privacy in eBird
Certain aspects of eBird and eBird Mobile require an account, which must be associated with a name and valid email address. These details are necessary to give you proper attribution for your reports and media on public outputs; to notify you of relevant account activity (e.g., when a checklist is shared with you); and as part of our data quality process.
We will never use or share your information for commercial purposes. Your contact information is only available to the team at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and our volunteer regional reviewers, who may contact you with questions about unusual records (learn more about the eBird review process).
Accurate location information is necessary for scientific analyses to better understand the status and distribution of birds. Every eBird checklist includes a set of latitude and longitude coordinates selected by the observer. These are the checklist location coordinates provided in our scientific database and public outputs.
eBird Mobile GPS tracks are not public and are not shared with external parties. Only the individuals listed as the owners of a checklist and researchers working on eBird Science products can see an eBird mobile GPS track. eBird Mobile GPS Tracking FAQ.
For some species, eBird data output is automatically restricted to reduce the risk of capture, targeted killing, or significant targeted disturbance by humans. Read more about eBird's sensitive species policy.
Additional Privacy Options
There are a number of privacy options available to eBirders that allow you to protect your personal information while still contributing to research and conservation. These options, which include hiding your name, hiding your checklists from Recent Visits and Alerts, and hiding checklist-level comments, can be adjusted from your eBird Preferences.
Visit our Data Privacy FAQs for more information on how to adjust your privacy settings.
Use of specific eBird data products
All eBird data that are publicly available have gone through the eBird Review Process. The appropriate use for specific data products falls into three categories:
- Checklist and observation data
- eBird.org products (web pages, web graphics, etc.)
- Photos, sounds and videos
1. Checklist and observation data
Your eBird data
To download just your own checklist and observation data, go to https://ebird.org/downloadMyData (available on the side of My eBird).
All eBird data
All eBird data are downloadable for free at https://ebird.org/data/download. You must submit a data request to document who has access to eBird data and for what purpose it is being used—allowing us to understand the ways eBird Data are used for research so that we can improve eBird's services over time.
- All data are free to use for any non-commercial purposes related to basic and applied research and education.
- If you download the data for an intended purpose, you cannot use the data for another purpose. In other words, you should submit a new access request citing the new purpose.
- If you download the data, you cannot pass on the data to another user. That user should themselves directly download the data from eBird.
- After downloading, you cannot redistribute eBird data in its original format.
- eBird data wherever used, should be appropriately cited.
- If you use eBird data to create derived products, an electronic copy of the product should be submitted to eBird.
- Any use of the data for a commercial purpose requires you to obtain an explicit permission from eBird (see below)
Other eBird data sources
eBird data are periodically uploaded to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), the official repository of data under the Convention on Biological Diversity. eBird data make up more than 1/3 of GBIF.
eBird also has a list of Sensitive Species for which data access requires an additional layer of verification of appropriate use; the process to request these data is available on the data download page. More info on eBird Sensitive Species.
2. eBird.org visuals
Data visualizations on eBird.org are also available for use. This may be eBird Status and Trends products, or web visualizations (e.g., maps, bar charts). These are all usable as long as citation guidelines are followed: https://ebird.org/science/citation. For photos, audio recordings, and/or video associated with eBird checklists, please see below.
3. Photos, sounds and videos
Photos, sounds, and videos added to your eBird checklists are archived in the Macaulay Library. When you first upload media to an eBird checklist using the Manage Media tool, you will be prompted to accept the license agreement. This is fully explained in the Media Licensing Agreement. Here are the highlights:
- All media contributors retain full copyright to their material.
- The Cornell Lab is free to use this media to further its mission – for research, education, and science.
- The Cornell Lab is free to sublicense the content to a third party for non-commercial use including promotion and research.
- The Cornell Lab will not sublicense the content to a third party for commercial use without the user’s consent.
The eBird license agreement is related specifically to media uploaded through eBird to the Macaulay Library. It does not apply to material pulled in and archived through traditional means by the Macaulay Library, for which there is a specific agreement between the Macaulay Library and each particular recordist or videographer.