Each day, millions of people rely on eBird and Merlin for accurate information about birds. We are a global community united by the belief that our collective experiences and observations can make the world a better place for birds and people.

Motivated by the philosophy that anyone can be a birder, we are committed to creating an inclusive, accessible space for bird enthusiasts of all experience levels. Together, the Merlin, eBird, and Macaulay Library teams, along with our partners and community members, have established the following set of community standards that we encourage everyone to follow.


Along with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Values, Terms of Use, eBird Rules and Best Practices, these standards provide general guidance for conduct while using our apps, as well as a few basic rules for activity on our platform.


Our goals are to promote sensible data collection practices that benefit science and conservation; create a positive, welcoming, and inclusive space for all birders; and encourage authentic engagement that increases our shared understanding of birds. Thank you for joining us in these efforts.


Community Guidelines

Your actions matter. By practicing responsible birding, you inspire others to do the same.

 

These recommendations are intended to encourage responsible birding behavior and respect for nature and each other. Following these suggested principles not only promotes a positive birding experience for yourself but also contributes to the well-being of birds and their habitats. 

 

Safety First

The safety of people and birds is top priority. Exercise situational awareness. Always consider potential risks, use good judgment, and avoid behaviors that put yourself or others (including birds) in harm’s way. 

 

Follow the Rules

It is the responsibility of every eBirder to know and follow all laws, rules, and regulations for the places they visit. Verify access and obtain appropriate permissions before entering private property or restricted areas. Don’t trespass. 

 

Respect Nature

Be conscientious of how your actions affect birds and other members of the community. Serve as a positive role model. Avoid disturbance, especially around nests and roosts. Educate yourself about the birds and places you're visiting to better understand your impact and appreciate their importance. 

 

Be Kind

Treat each other with respect. Recognize different personal birding experiences. Create a positive, welcoming space on eBird, Merlin, and in nature.

 

Consider Science

Strive to submit the best possible data for science by following eBird Best Practices. Consider your own observations critically, document rare species thoroughly, and ensure your checklists are accurate to the best of your ability.

 

Embrace the Learning Process

Bird identification is tricky. eBird and Merlin are designed to build birding skills. Every eBird observation undergoes data quality checks and you may be contacted if someone on our volunteer review team has a question about an eBird checklist. 

 

Be proactive in providing detail about unusual observations, and be receptive to feedback and revision so that your observations get more accurate and scientifically valuable as you continue to participate.

 

Take Control of Your Privacy

Understand where and how your submitted data appears publicly. Visit your Account Preferences to choose the sharing settings that suit you best. 

 

Enjoy

Birds are amazing! Celebrate every bird, everywhere—from the common species to the mega-rarity—because with eBird and Merlin every bird counts. 



Please also be mindful of the many Codes of Birding Ethics adopted by community organizations around the world. The Cornell Lab’s capacity to address violations of a particular code of ethics is limited and we are unable to enforce behaviors that occur outside of our platforms.



Prohibited Behaviors

The following pertains to all activities on eBird and Merlin, including interactions with data quality volunteers. 

 

Abuse—targeted personal attacks, threats, insults, name-calling, or hate speech* on checklists, media, profiles, or in the course of correspondence with an eBird volunteer regarding an observation. 

 

*Hate speech is defined as uncivil, antagonistic, or derogatory content based on a person's race, sex, age, religion, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression and/or identity, disability, or other legally protected status.

 

Data falsification—submitting fabricated observations, and/or intentionally providing false documentation (including artificially generated media) to support an observation. 

 

Copyright infringement—uploading media created by others without their permission. 

 

Unwilling to engage productively in the data quality process—submitting large quantities of data that do not adhere to our Rules and Best Practices and/or being systematically unresponsive to eBird volunteer communication. 

 

Privacy violations—sharing someone else’s contact information or personal identifying details (other than full name) without their permission. 

 

Explicit content—excessive or frequent profanity; comments or media of an obscene nature; or human sexual references.  

 

Engaging in any of the above may result in an account being permanently set as ‘Not Public’. Individuals whose accounts are ‘Not Public’ retain access to all eBird tools and resources for personal use. All of their observations, media, and checklists remain personal-only and do not appear on public outputs including eBird alerts, species maps, and Top 100 standings. 


Let us know

If you feel an eBird user is engaging in Prohibited Behaviors or violates our Terms of Use, please notify us. Provide checklist links and screenshots of relevant correspondence where available. We take reports seriously and will strive to address them promptly. However, we may not always be able to respond immediately due to the complexities involved in each investigation. For concerns about trespassing or illegal activities, please contact local law enforcement authorities. 


Policies for Volunteers

Volunteers for eBird and Merlin are held to additional standards of conduct. Volunteer responsibilities and expectations can be found here