Choosing Locations

Why is it important to choose an accurate location?

Selecting your location on eBird Mobile

Selecting your location on the eBird website

Should I choose a personal location or a Hotspot?


Managing Personal Locations

The Manage My Locations page

Rename a personal location

Move a personal location

Merge a personal location with another location

How do I turn a personal location into a Hotspot?


Why is it important to choose an accurate location?

Accurately representing where you went birding is critically important. Misplaced locations can result in birds being 'seen' where nobody will find them, or direct conservationists to prioritize work in places where that bird has never occurred. eBird Science relies on accurately placed observations for output like our Status & Trends maps. If the locations underlying these scientific products are unreliable, then results may be unreliable as well. Please make your checklist locations as accurate and precise as possible!


Selecting your location on eBird Mobile

eBird Mobile uses your mobile device to make location selection a breeze. When you press “Start Checklist", the app will automatically assign the checklist to your current coordinates. You can adjust your location selection during the checklist, or you will be prompted to confirm your location at the end before you "Submit".


eBird mobile location selection

There are three location selection options on eBird Mobile: Recent, Nearby, and Map.  


Recent Location has your last 50 locations that you've used on eBird Mobile; you can choose from these locations without the need for an internet connection. As you use locations within the app, this list will automatically populate. 


Nearby Location uses the phone’s GPS and data connection to show a list of all the nearby eBird locations: both nearby public hotspots and your personal locations. The location automatically created by your device when you started the checklist will be at the top of this list.


Map Location uses the phone’s GPS and data connection to show a map of all nearby eBird locations: both nearby public hotspots (red icons with flames) and your personal locations (blue icons). The map will default to the location created by your device when you started the checklist. You can choose a new personal location by pressing anywhere on the map, or select an existing Hotspot or personal location by tapping the icon for it. 


If you move the map, tap "Load Points" to refresh the screen and show nearby locations. Note: Only public Hotspots and personal locations created and submitted from your smartphone will be visible from the "Map" tab.


Edit the name of a new personal location 

If you create a new personal location on eBird Mobile, consider changing the location name so that it is more informative than the default name. A descriptive name for a traveling route might be "Central Park walk from Turtle Pond to Strawberry Field". 

  1. Open any unsubmitted checklist and tap the location name
  2. On the "Choose a location" screen, select the "Map" tab. 
  3. Use the existing location or create a new one by tapping somewhere else on the map. 
  4. Tap the location name at the bottom of the screen to edit it.

Remember, this only works for new locations; you cannot edit the names of existing personal locations or Hotspots. 


Selecting your location on the eBird website


There are four location selection options on the eBird website: 


Choose from Your Locations provides a searchable list of every location where you’ve submitted a checklist in eBird. This is the fastest method for entering checklists from locations you previously birded.


Find it on a map is the fastest method overall, and especially so for entering a checklist from a new location. Just type in the region where you went birding. Then use search bar or the plus sign to zoom in to a particular area. Click on the map to create a new location, or select from the existing personal locations (blue icons) or hotspots (red icons with flames). You can also suggest your new personal location as a hotspot from this display. 


eBird website location selection


Find or create a new checklist location using the map view


Use Latitude/Longitude is a quick method if you already have the GPS coordinates for where you went birding. NOTE: If using Latitude/Longitude, your coordinates should be formatted in Decimal Degrees or Degrees, Minutes, Seconds. You can toggle between these formats by clicking the button at the top of the page.


Use Select an entire city, county, state, or country for records that lack more precise location information or if you’re entering a baseline life list in eBird. Checklists at the county, state, or country level will not appear in eBird’s public outputs. Please do not use these options unless you truly lack a more precise location.


Should I choose a personal location or a Hotspot? 

Whether on the app or the website, it’s always important to choose a location that accurately represents where you went birding. eBird hotspots are designated locations frequently visited by your fellow eBirders. Only use eBird Hotspots when your entire checklist occurred within that hotspot's area. 


Some areas have many hotspots, so choose the most specific location that accurately describes your birding - even if it is a personal location. Learn more about choosing the right Hotspot here.

 

Map of many eBird hotspots

 

Precision is preferred! Select the location that best represents your birding, and only choose a Hotspot if you stayed within its area for your entire checklist. 


The "Manage My Locations" page


Found on My eBird, the Manage My Locations page provides a list of every single personal location ever used on any of your checklists - even checklists shared with you! This page keeps your personal locations organized by letting you rename, move, or merge them with others.


Any changes in Manage My Locations will apply to ALL of your checklists associated with that location. 



What does "In My Locs" mean?

The "In My Locs?" column indicates whether that location appears on the "Choose a Location" screen of eBird Mobile and "Choose from Your Locations" drop-down menu when submitting a checklist on eBird.org. The default is "Yes", meaning the location can be seen and selected when creating a checklist.

You can hide locations so they do not appear as an option when submitting checklists:

  1. check the box next to the location name
  2. select "Hide in My Locations" from the drop-down menu in the top right
  3. click "Submit" to change the "In My Locs?" value of that Location to "No"

Repeat this process, selecting "Show in My Locations" from the drop-down menu to un-hide locations that were previously hidden. 


Hiding a personal location from "In My Locs" will NOT hide any checklists submitted from that location. These checklists will remain public, even if the location is hidden from your personal location list. See these instructions on how to hide checklists from a specific location.


What does "Type*" mean?

The "Type" column in Manage My Locations indicates whether a location is personal (P) or shared (S). Shared locations (S) include public Hotspots and personal locations belonging to other eBirders used in checklists that were shared with you.


IMPORTANT: You can only move and merge your own personal locations (Type = P). Shared locations (Type = S) can be renamed, but must be moved or merged by the location owner. The name of the location owner can be found by clicking "Edit" next to that location in Manage My Locations. Public Hotspots will have no owner and a red flame icon next to the location name.


Rename a Personal Location



  1. Go to Manage My Checklists from the My eBird page
  2. Use the Search bar to find the personal location you wish to rename 
  3. Click "Edit"
  4. Select the circle next to "Rename" (for shared locations, skip this and proceed to Step 5) 
  5. Enter the new location name in the "Enter new name" box and click "Rename" 


ALL checklists submitted from this personal location will now display the new name.


Move a Personal Location to a new place on the map


This action is only available for personal locations created by you. This process moves ALL checklists submitted from this personal location to a brand new location. This will NOT combine two personal locations together. For that action, see "Merge" below. 



  1. Go to Manage My Checklists from My eBird
  2. Use the Search bar to find the personal location you wish to rename 
  3. Click "Edit"
  4. Select the circle next to "Move"
  5. Click on the map where you want the new location to be. The green icon will display the new location, the original location will not be indicated on the map.
  6. Click "Move" to save the new location placement
  7. If the move was successful, you will see a page that says "Location has been moved." with an option to search for and edit other personal locations.

Merge a Personal Location with another location or Hotspot


Merging a location will permanently combine all of the checklists from one location with another. This is helpful if:

  • you have multiple redundant personal locations you wish to combine into a single location
  • you want to merge a personal location with an existing Hotspot. 

Important: There is no way to undo a merge, so be careful! 


This action is only available for personal locations created by you. 

  1. Go to Manage My Checklists from My eBird
  2. Use the Search bar to find the personal location you wish to merge (i.e., the location you are sending checklists away from)
  3. Click "Edit"
  4. Select the circle next to "Merge". The map will display:
    • nearby personal locations (blue icons) 
    • nearby public Hotspots (red icons with flames)
    • the location to be merged with another (green icon) 
    • the number of checklists currently assigned to the green location (shown above the "Merge" button)
  5. Click the blue personal location or red Hotspot you want the green personal location to be merged into. 
    • The name of the personal location or Hotspot selected to receive the green location's checklists will be shown in bold above the "Merge" button.
  6. The "Delete after merging" box should be:
    • Checked if you want to delete the green location from your personal locations after moving its checklists to the selected blue or red location
    • Unchecked if you want to keep the green location after moving all of its checklists to the selected blue or red location (effectively making the green location an "empty" personal location with no associated checklists)
  7. Click "Merge" to re-assign all checklists from the green location to the selected blue personal location or red Hotspot.
  8. A pop-up will ask "Are you sure?" click Yes to continue. Remember, this action cannot be undone!
  9. If the merge was successful, you will see a page that says "Location has been merged successfully." with an option to search for and edit other personal locations.



Repeat these steps as needed until all desired personal locations are combined. If "Delete after merging" is checked, your old personal locations will disappear as their checklists are merged with the new location.


How do I turn a personal location into a Hotspot?

On eBird, your personal locations are indicated by blue icons, and public Hotspots are indicated by larger red icons with a flame inside. You can suggest any personal location to become a public birding Hotspot provided it meets certain criteria. However, each suggested Hotspot must undergo a review process before it becomes a public location. Learn more about this process and how to suggest a Hotspot here.

                                           White-breasted Woodswallow                                    

Unlike your eBird personal locations, these tightly clustered White-breasted Woodswallows cannot merge into a single location.


White-breasted Woodswallow by William Hall/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab (ML74537281)