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photo ratings in eBird

7:45 am

I would encourage everyone to review the criteria (copied below) for rating
photos in eBird and attempt a more critical review of your photos and those of
others. Put simply, many photos are being rated 4 and 5 stars when they are out-of-focus,
pixelated/low resolution, or obscured by foliage. “Good focus” is required for
a 3 star rating. The rarity of the bird should have no bearing on the rating
. Very few 5 star photos are truly captured each day, but it appears to be one of the most popular ratings locally.

Justyn Stahl

North Park

Rating photos

Rate the quality of the image, not the quality of the bird or the observation. A great photo of a common, drab bird should still be 5 stars and a poor photo of a very rare or hard-to-photograph bird could still be only 1 or 2 stars. When rating, please consider the photo guidelines, as well as the following factors:

  • Sharpness: Is the primary subject in focus? Is the image blurred or grainy? 
  • Visibility of bird: How well can you see the bird? If the bird is very small, partially obstructed from view, or backlit in the photo, the rating should be lower than it would be otherwise.
  • Size of photo: Lower your rating of any photo that has a noticeably small resolution. Uploading full resolution files is always encouraged.
  • Watermarks: Lower rating by 1-4 stars depending on the size and obtrusiveness of the watermark.
  • Composite photos, back-of-camera, photos with obtrusive graphics or extreme editing: automatic 1-star for anything that is in clear violation of photo guidelines
  • Flocks: Rate flocks based on the quality of the image rather than the visibility of any individual birds. Is the flock in focus, well lit, and the overall image of high resolution?
  • Birds in-hand: Photos of in-hand birds are critical for illustrating plumages and molts, and add significant value to the standard ornithological practice of bird banding. Please rate images of in-hand birds based on photo quality. Do not intentionally down-rate images of birds in the hand because you don’t agree with the practice. In-hand photos should also be tagged as in-hand during upload.

Descriptions of star ratings for photos:

  • 5 Stars: Excellent quality. High resolution and in sharp focus. Lighting should be good and the bird at least fairly large in the frame and not significantly obscured.
  • 4 Stars: Very good quality. High resolution and in good focus, at least decent lighting, and bird reasonably large in frame. One or two of these factors may be less than ideal and prevent from achieving 5 stars.
  • 3 Stars: Decent quality. High or medium resolution with decent focus. Lighting might be less than ideal; bird might be smaller in frame or somewhat obscured. Might have several factors that prevent it from being rated higher.
  • 2 Stars: Poor quality. Could be a good image but at a noticeably low resolution, or high resolution but with significant flaws. Lighting might be severely backlit or poorly exposed. Image might be good but the bird is extremely small in the frame or mostly obscured.
  • 1 Star: Very poor quality. Very low resolution or very poor focus; bird may be very small or obscured in the frame or have extremely bad exposure. In general should only be uploaded as record shots, if still identifiable.