The eBird import tool is designed to provide an interface for importing large volumes of data to eBird. If you have fewer than 30 checklist to upload; and/or do not like using spreadsheets, we recommend entering sightings using eBird Mobile or the Submit page on eBird.org.
Because the data are uploaded directly, the import tool has very specific requirements in terms of the file type and format. Follow the instructions to the letter! The import data tool is NOT the main way to enter data in eBird; we always recommend using eBird Mobile or the Submit page on ebird.org.
If you are importing sightings from Avisys or BirdBase, check out the documents at the bottom of this page for additional instructions specific to those programs.
Are my data appropriate for eBird import?
Every eBird checklist has three key elements:
Date (a single day)
Location (a specific location selected on a map)
A list of bird species detected (sometimes 0, sometimes as many as 345)
If your data lack one of these three elements (e.g., no location, sightings spanning multiple dates), they are not a good fit for eBird. If you have such a list and want to get your entire life list in eBird, enter it using our How to Upload your Life List guidelines. You can find more info on checklist rules and requirements here.
Preparing your data
On top of the three key elements above, eBird checklists also include the “How” of your birding with effort information like time spent birding, the number of observers, and the Observation Type. Be sure to select the Protocol that best describes your birding activity; most often either Stationary, Traveling, or Incidental (see Appendix B: eBird Protocol Descriptions)
The eBird data import tool will then group your bird observations by date, location, time, and effort information to create checklists (e.g., all observations from “McFadden Marsh” on 12/17/2019 at 11:54 with the Incidental Protocol will be placed on a single eBird checklist).
There are two data formats in eBird: the eBird Record Format and the eBird Checklist Format. The eBird Record Format is designed to capture large tables of records with a complete observation in each row of the table, while the eBird Checklist Format is designed to allow you to add daily totals to a pre-existing species list. For a description of the fields in each data format, see Appendix A: eBird Data Fields.
After choosing the format that works best for your data, you'll need to restructure your data to match. See Appendix C: eBird Formatting Tips and Appendix D: eBird Data Preparation Instructions for PDFs describing optimal techniques for formatting your data using Microsoft Excel. Make sure your computer is using commas as the delimiter. If it does not, the file will not upload correctly. This tutorial helps to navigate to your computer's settings to change from a semicolon-delimited to a comma-delimited file.
Note: File sizes are limited to 1 MB/import. You can import as much data as you wish, but the records must be separated into different files no larger than 1 MB each.
eBird Record Format
The table below describes the data contained in each column of the eBird Record Format. The Column Letters correspond to individual spreadsheet columns. Appendix A provides specifications about each data value (e.g., Protocol Name options).
Example files are below. Remember that finished files must be saved as CSV files without header rows for eBird import. See all record format requirements below:
Sample Files: you can download Excel files of this file format as well as a sample template here.
eBird Record Format Sample (XLS file) - an Excel file with header rows for clarity
eBird Record Format Blank Data Template (XLS file) - a blank template for data entry
Record Format Requirements:
- No header row in your final file! Delete the header row before uploading.
eBird Checklist Format
The table below describes the data contained in each column of the eBird Record Format. The letters correspond to spreadsheet columns. Appendix A provides specifications about each data value (e.g., Protocol Name options).
Example eBird Checklist Format files are found below; remember to save as format .csv before importing into eBird. See the full Checklist Format requirements below.
Sample Files: you can download Excel files of this file format as well as a sample template here.
eBird Checklist Format Sample (XLS file) - an Excel file with several example checklists
eBird Checklist Format Blank Data Template (XLS file) - a blank template for data entry
Checklist Format Requirements:
Cell A1 must be blank! This field must be blank for the file to be recognized.
Your species list should start on Row 15 in Column A. It can be as long as you need.
Your first checklist should start in Column C.
Each column is a different "checklist;" the first 14 rows of every column (excluding A and B) contain effort data. The first 14 rows in columns A and B are empty. Subsequent rows consist of species names followed by a number in the matching column for each checklist.
A single file is limited to 50 columns (48 checklists).
Common Name goes in Column A. Make sure that if you are not including scientific names, that your entire Column B is blank.
If you are adding Species Comments, separate them with the special character called a "pipe", which looks like this "|". For example, in the count cell for Turkey Vulture, you might put "10|Moving north on southerly winds.”
These key rules apply to both the Record Format and the Checklist Format. Double check them before uploading. If you need to troubleshoot your upload during the Import Process, refer back here.
File formatted as a .csv file and not another file type.
File does not have any quotation marks in ANY field. Species comments, checklist comments, and location names cannot contain quotation marks (") within the text. Go back through your file and remove all quotation marks (") using the find and replace feature on your software.
File does not exceed the 1 MB file size limit.
Columns are in the right order for that Format; any shift out of place will result in an incorrigible file.
Common name or scientific name is required, not both.
Numbers are not required: use X, x, +, or * to mean "present."
Make sure any values for latitude and longitude (optional) are correct and that you have included the appropriate (-) symbol before a value for longitude in the Western Hemisphere (e.g., -122.33456).
Any (optional) latitude and longitude values must be entered in decimal degrees (e.g., 32.45723, -122.42219).
Dates must adhere to the following format: month/day/year (e.g., 12/27/2007).
Star times must be either military time (e.g., 08:00 or 14:50) or in twelve-hour format (e.g., 8:00 AM or 2:50 PM).
Protocols must match the options provided in the supplementary documentation. Make sure you use only one word to describe your protocol (e.g., Incidental, Stationary, Traveling, or Area) or use the code.
Make sure your values for duration are in minutes, not hours.
The entry for 'All observations reported' should simply be "Y" or "N", not yes or no.
For Traveling checklists, distance traveled should be in miles.
For Area checklists, area covered should be in acres.
Make sure none of your cells have "hard returns" (line breaks). Use these tips to fix any line breaks if you have them in your file.
- Enter your Rock Pigeon sightings as “Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon).” This will save you time during the “Fix Species” stage in Step 3. If you have sightings of wild type Rock Pigeons, enter those as “Rock Pigeon (Wild Type).” See here for more information on reporting Rock Pigeons in eBird.
Importing your data to eBird
View a video tutorial of full the Import Process here. The instructions outlined below are also available as a PDF that you can download and reference while trying the Data Import Tool. Click here to download.
Click the "Submit" tab on the eBird home page.
Choose "Import Data" from the available options.
Choose the format that matches your file (Record Format or Checklist Format).
Click “Import File.”
The moment of truth! If your file is formatted correctly, you'll see a processing message. If your file has formatting errors, you must fix these before importing again. Check your data the sections for Formatting Rules and Record/Checklist Format.
Cleaning up your imported data
The import tool automates as much of the upload process as possible, but in almost any import, you’ll likely need to manually match some of your species and locations with those in eBird so your data is imported properly.
There are two important things to note about fixing species and locations.
You MUST click “Apply Fixes” for any of your changes to be saved. Fixed species and locations will be removed from the list as you apply your changes, so you can track your progress.
Do not click the “Delete” link beside any entry unless you really mean it. You will need to resubmit all of those entries if you need them.
Here you’ll make sure that your species correspond to the eBird Taxonomy. Mismatches are usually due to taxonomic changes or typos in names. Click “Choose Species” and select the species or taxon that corresponds to your sightings. You can use eBird’s Explore Species pages as a reference to make sure you select the right option.
Note: you should choose “Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)” as the entry option for your sightings and then change any records individually if you observed any “wild type” Rock Pigeons.
If you have instances where records may actually relate to more than one taxon in eBird, then you will have to pick one option here then change the rest individually within each checklist (e.g., if you have sightings of both Black-rumped and Red-backed Flameback but they are all listed in your data under the old name of Black-rumped Flameback). You should naturally default to the species that appears on more of your checklists. Checking the latest eBird Taxonomy Update is a good strategy to review recent splits or lumps.
Selecting a location works the same as when submitting a normal eBird checklist. For general locations like “Thailand,” or “Kent, UK” use the “Select an entire city, county, state, or country” option.
For specific locations, you can use the “Find it on a Map” option to search for your birding location; alternatively, you can use GPS coordinates if you have them. If there’s an eBird hotspot that matches where you went birding, we encourage you to select it. If there’s not one, just use a personal location. Lastly, if you’ve already submitted a checklist from a location, you can easily select it from the Your Locations dropdown.
Review Your Lists!
Enjoy your updated totals in My eBird while you proof your checklists to make sure that you entered all of your checklists properly. Once you’re finished, sit back in satisfaction with your contributions to science and conservation in eBird! We look forward to all of your new data going forward-- try out eBird Mobile for the fastest way to keep your lists in the field.
Managing Imported Data
You can edit imported sightings by clicking the "My eBird" tab and then selecting "Manage My Checklists" from the options on the right hand side of the page. Use the Checklist Tools dropdown menu to edit the Date, Location, or Species on your checklist. In the rare cases where it is necessary, you can delete an imported file by going to "My eBird" and then "Manage Imported Data." On the upper right portion of each import you'll see a "Delete import" option. This will remove *all* the records in that file from your data and from our database. Be careful!