eBird Rarity Photos on Flickr: Best Practices

We recently updated the guidelines for contributing photos to the eBird Rarity Photos group on the photo sharing site Flickr.  To improve the experiences of current and future contributors to the group, we wanted to take that update one step further and provide some tips and examples of “best practices” for contributing rarity photos to the group.

To begin, take a moment to read the updated group rules and group guidelines, which we’ve paraphrased below. These criteria answer two key questions: Which photos can I contribute to the group? and What additional information should I include with the photo on Flickr?

For inclusion images must meet the following criteria:
1. Observations must be submitted to eBird.
2. Photos must be labeled with the species name, location, date and photographer’s name.
3. Additional information on identification is also welcome.
4. Photos should only be of birds flagged for confirmation when submitting your checklist (that is, outside of their normal range, out of season, or exceptionally high numbers of a more common species).
5. Please include no more than 2-4 photos per bird.
6. Add the URL for the eBird checklist in the photo description, and embed the photo in the checklist comments in eBird (ebird.org/content/ebird/about/embedding_richmedia)

The first question has an easy answer: if it was flagged for confirmation while entering your eBird checklist, then (and only then) can it be added to the group. When something is flagged for confirmation, you’ll see a confirmation box like the one below, prompting you to provide documentation of the observation, e.g. a photo or written description of the bird.

eBird Confirmation

Embed photos for as many species as you’d like in your eBird checklists, but only add “flagged” observations to the eBird Rarity Photos group.

The second question, regarding what information to include with the photo, requires a bit more elaboration. Many contributors have room for improvement in this area!  Photos in the eBird Rarity pool should include the species name, date, location, photographer’s name, and the URL for the checklist. For the rest of this article we will discuss ways of including this information, which can be added in six different places on Flickr: the photo title, description, tags, map and comments. Here are some easy ways to make sure all this information appears along with your photo in Flickr.

The species name is easy, so lets start there: include it in the photo title.  To ensure the name used is the standard common (and/or binomial) name for the species, you can easily copy and paste that text from the eBird checklist.

The date, location and URL for the eBird checklist (the most commonly omitted piece of information!) are easiest to provide in the photo description.  Here is an example photo (from this eBird checklist) where all required information is provided in the photo description.  Note that the location information (or more precise location information) is also provided using Flickr’s built in map tools.

Here is a minimalist example. Note the photographer’s name and the date of the observation appear in the top-right of the page (acceptable!), and the description includes the location and the all important checklist URL. Here is another minimalist example, and another.

Finally, we all like to share our photos.  To keep species diversity high in the eBird Rarity group, contribute no more than 2-4 photos per flagged observation. But what if you have multiple photos you’d like to share? An excellent compromise is to only contribute your single best photo to the eBird Rarity group, then embed the others in the comments to that photo.  Here’s another example of this approach. This way anyone who wants to see more photos gets them all with just one click!

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