How to Use eBird

Getting Started

First, decide if your land qualifies as a Hotspot.

Hotspots are public birding locations created by eBird users. A “Hotspot” does not necessarily mean the area is an outstanding location for birds or birding­, Hotspots in eBird are simply a set of public locations visited by multiple people over time. In contrast to a private location, such as your backyard, Hotspots are publicly accessible lands like parks and wildlife refuges, as well as many land trust properties. The two main benefits of creating your own Hotspots are generating more interest in, and visitors to, your lands and gathering useful bird data in one place as these visitors create bird lists for you!

All Hotspots have summaries that can be accessed from eBird’s Hotspot Explorer (instructions) tool. To find out if a property your land trust holds or manages is already an eBird Hotspot, you can use the tool to zoom into your property on an interactive map or download the full Hotspot list for your state here. If it is, there’s already information about your land and the birds found there available to you! Learn how to view summaries, download data or explore your data further

If your land is not listed as a Hotspot, you can easily create your own eBird Hotspot in one of two ways:

  1. You can submit a bird sighting or complete a checklist from the property. When you first plot the location on a map, you will have the option to “Suggest as a Birding Hotspot?” You are not required to complete a checklist submission to recommend the Hotspot, but it is recommended.
  2. You can access sites from which you have submitted data at the Manage My Locations page; select the site and at the top and use the drop-down menu to “Suggest as Hotspot.”

A volunteer Hotspot Editor will review all requests for accuracy, and then they should appear in the Hotspot Explorer.

When naming hotspots on your properties, it is helpful to follow the guidelines for naming conventions here.

For example, The Trustees of Reservations is a land trust in Massachusetts. All their eBird Hotspot properties are designated with “TTOR” after the name. This naming scheme publicizes that land is protected in Massachusetts, helps birders to appreciate the significant role this group has played in conserving the land, and allows the site information to be more easily assimilated. See example land trust hotspots here.

There is also the possibility of exploring information at other scales aside from Hotspots. Data are summarized at the regional level as well, and for finer scale data access try the download data tool.

If you need further assistance, please access the help page or send an email to ebird@cornell.edu.

eBird Tutorials

These tutorials will help you use eBird further for entering information about your lands:

If you have a large historical data set and need guidance on how to upload, contact ebird@cornell.edu.