Photo Submission Guidelines

If you are interested in having your bird photography appear on the species pages of and our popular iBird smartphone app, please read the following details carefully as it will answer all of your questions.
Each year over 14 million people visit to identify a bird. Consequently it is ranked at the top of a search in Google. Whatbird’s patented parametric search engine is still unequaled as the most accurate way to ID a bird when you only have a small amount of information. Its species pages combine both photos and illustrations, which is unusual even today, and include the songs and calls of almost every bird in North America, range maps, and a huge amount of detail we’ve spent the past 14 years accumulating and organizing.

iBird Guide to Birds of North America
Our iBird apps for iPhone and Android smartphones pack all the content of the website into an app you can take with you anywhere you go birding. And because it has all the content in its own database, you don’t need to be connected to the internet. iBird is considered the most comprehensive birding app in the world. It has been recommended by Scientific American magazine, written about in the New York Times in several articles, such as Shooting to Software Stardom on the iPhone and A Touch-Screen Field Guide to the Birds, reviewed by Macworld's Jeff Battersby: iBird Explorer Plus for iPhone, awarded 4-1/2 out of 5 stars by Macworld magazine and been featured in an Apple television commercial "We have an app for that." To discover more about iBird you can visit

Page Rank
Typically gets over ½ million visitors a month who read its over 2 million pages. Consequently the site has a high "page rank" which, as some of you know, is a measurement, pioneered by Google indicating how popular a page is on the internet. Rank is represented by a number from 0 to 10 that represents its relevance, with 0 meaning the site is too insignificant to be ranked, and 10 meaning it’s one of the top sites on the entire Internet. Any site with a rank above 4 or 5 is considered a good one, according to Google. In fact page rank is considered a form of currency in today's search engine dependent world.

iBird apps have become the most popular and widely used identification apps in the world, while the whatbird website has established itself as a leader for bird identification on the web. In face of the 4 million website links Google returns for the words "bird identification," is one of the very first sites that appears. This high ranking and strong reputation means having your photo showcased in the app or on gives your reputation a strong boost. We view the reputation established by our page rank and popularity as a kind of currency. And this page rank curreny is our way of paying you back for allowing us to display your work. Further you can be assured that your work will be in the company of some of the best bird and nature photographers on the planet.

We have very high standards when it comes to content on and iBird. We only use photos from the best photographers and we make sure those photos meet the needs of the birders who use our app and website. Since the main purpose of the iBird app and the website is to help with identification, it's critical that the photos are oriented to that purpose. What this means is that we are focused on the kind of photos that reveal the most details about a species rather than photos that may be more abstract or artistic in nature.

Credits and Links
We appreciate the incredible images that photographers contribute, so we designed and iBird to show off these talents. If we use any of your photos, we will try to help raise awareness of you and your work. In the case of the and iBird species pages, we will display your name and copyright immediately below the photo. On the whatbird species page, we will place your name and copyright immediately above the photo with a hyperlink directly to your website, blog or gallery (assuming you have one of these). Should a visitor want to learn more about you or purchase your photos, they will be able to find you with one click. We also add your name and website to our contributor’s page on the and iBird Credit’s web page. Additionally, on the iPad and the iPhone, we provide a slideshow with menus that will allow showing just your photos accompanied by the songs and calls of the species being viewed. You can use this neat feature as a way to show off your photography on your smartphone or tablet in a uniquely dynamic manner.

The Exchange
Given the number of visitors to Whatbird and iBird users, we believe the high level of exposure is quite valuable. So we are essentially trading the currency of the Whatbird page rank and the exposure on the best birding app in the world in return for presenting your photos to the large birding community. We have no ownership of your work and we do not sell it.  All this exposure is a selling opportunity for you, so we do suggest you set up some way for visitors to make a purchase of your work on your website. That way, when they click on the link on the species page, they will be taken to your gallery to see all your work. Photo Display
Here is an example of how your photo will appear on the Whatbird species pages. There is a headline displaying the name of the photo, a copyright notice and the name of the photographer that is also a link to your webpage. This web link will be viewed by thousands of people each month and, therefore, it is likely your website or gallery will receive a good deal of traffic.

Tap to Enlarge

iPhone Photo Display
iPhone Photo Display Here is how your photo appears on the iPhone. Your name and copyright appear under your photo. The page scrolls vertically to reveal additional photos.

iPad Photos
6Tap to Enlarge 7Tap to Enlarge
Photo page in iBird app. Note photographer copyright and name. Andother example in iBird app showing photographer name and copyright.

What are we looking for in a photo?

Identification is Our Goal. The photos we display on the species pages are meant to help people learn to identify a particular bird; they are not so much about art as they are about education. Thus, we are looking for photos that show off ID marks that are representative of the coloring and plumage found in typical species. This means we are seeking photos that show the entire bird’s body filling most of the frame, backgrounds that are not overpowering and allow the subject to show up, and subject and lighting that show off the birds features. We want photos that are sharply focused (not fuzzy). We also accept photography of birds in flight.

Examples of Photos We Can Use and Can't Use and Why
Below are examples of photos that we can and can't use and the reasons why. Please read this carefully as it will help save you time and effort, and will help you understand what kind of photo we wish to present to our visitors.

Good and Bad Examples
We Can Use We Can't Use
8 4
Turkey Vulture by Jeff Wendorff. Correct portrait mode 576w x 720h x 72 ppi    24-bit PNG   NON-interlaced, bird fills the entire frame, field marks are clear, focus is sharp, head is clear, feet show up well.
Bird is too small in the frame and is obscured by branches.
We Can Use We Can't Use
2 3
American Robin by John Schwarz. Photo is a great profile of the species, focus is good, all field marks are clear.
Photo is in correct portrait format, but hard to see entire body because it is covered by the tree branch, and head is turned away so you can't see its profile well.
We Can Use We Can't Use
9 1
Acorn Woodpecker by E.J. Peiker. Good field marks, the green sheen is apparent, background is a nice green, and you can see the barring on the breast.
While this is a good family study, the birds are so small in the frame that they can't be easily seen unless the image was zoomed. It is also the wrong ratio and is too tall.

These are the formats we need in order to use your photos. We use these specific formats for the webpage, smartphone and tablet devices.

1. Photos may be portrait or landscape.

2. Portrait Size: 576 pixels horizontal x 720 pixels vertical. Resolution is 72 pixels per inch.

3. Landscape Size: 800 pixels horizontal x 534 pixels vertical. Resolution is 72 pixels per inch.

4. All submitted images must be 24-bit, non-interlaced PNGs.

If you experience some loss of quality or color, or you experience a color saturation issue, you may not have a color-calibrated workspace. To mitigate these issues, make sure the files are converted to the sRGB color space before saving as a PNG.

5. Please include the species name in your file name. Use the name as it appears on our website, and include sex or phase if known; only include dashes if they are in the official name. The species in the photo must be identified in order for us to be able to use it. We will double-check the ID, but unless it’s identified initially, we won't be able to use it. Names like “sparrow” or “hawk in California” won't work. Also, it is always helpful to have the location of the shot as well so that we can make sure we have the correct subspecies for the region.

6. AOU Spelling. If you are not sure about the correct spelling of the species name, please refer to the American Ornithological Union website and list of birds of North America. Here is the link:

Submitting Example Photos
Given that the response to our photo project has been overwhelming, if you have photos you would like to submit, we ask that you first send us a link to your website photo gallery so that we can review them. If you don't have a gallery, please submit 3 or 4 photos in the format we specified above in a ZIP file and send them using the ”submit sample photos” link below.

Please do not make multiple submissions as it makes it difficult for us to manage. Once we receive your photos, we will contact you if we plan to use them on the website, and we will provide you with additional instructions.

If we have contacted you directly about your photos, and you are ready to submit multiple images, please respond to our email and we will establish a dropbox folder to which you can upload.

Click this to submit sample photos.

Specific Bird Species Needed
We currently have over 2,000 photos on our site and in our apps. However, we are missing photographs for some rare birds that are listed on our Photos Needed page. The tabs at the bottom are for each of the regions for which we need photos.

If you have any questions regarding photo submissions to Whatbird and iBird, please email Senior Editor

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