Photo Submission Guidelines

Photo Submission Guidelines

If you are interested in having your bird photography appear on the species pages of and our popular iBird smartphone and tablet app, please read the following details carefully as it should answer all of your questions.
This site is known as one of the best spots on the Internet to identify birds and is consistently 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 10 years accumulating and organizing.

iBird Guide to Birds
Our iBird app is based on the content of the website and uses all of its resources. iBird is considered the most comprehensive birding app in the world. iBird has been recommended by Scientific American magazine, written about in the New York Times (A Touch-Screen Field Guide to the Birds, for Instant IDs), reviewed by Macworld's Jeff Battersby, 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 the website at

Page Rank
Typically gets over ½ million visitors a month who read over 2 million pages. Consequently the site has a high "page rank" which, as some of you know, is a measure pioneered by Google indicating how popular a page is. Rank is represented by a number from 0 to 10 which 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. Therefore page rank is a form of currency in today's search engine dependent world.

iBird has become the most popular and widely used identification app in the world and has established itself as a leader for bird identifcation on the web. In face of the 4 million website links Google returns for the words "bird identifcation" is the very frist site. This high ranking and strong reputation means having your photo showcased in the app or one gives your reputation a huge boost. We look reputation establlished by the page rank and popularity as a kind of currency. And this 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 extremely high standards when it comes to content on and iBird. We only use photos from the best professional photographers and we make sure they meet the needs of the birders who use our app and website. Since the main purpose of the iBird app and the website are 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 expose their 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 species pages, we will display your name and copyright immediately above the photo. We will place a hyperlink directly to your website, blog or gallery. 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 bio and photo to our contributor’s page on the website (Credits). In the case of the iBird apps for smartphones and tablets on any platform, we will display your name under the photos and your name and web link in the contributor area of the apps About page. In the case of iBird for the iPad, every species has its own Photo gallery. 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 feature as a way to show off your photography in a uniquely dynamic manner.

Our Exchange
Given the number of visitors to Whatbird and viewers of iBird, we believe the high level of exposure is quite valuable. So we are essentially trading the currency of the Whatbird page rank and the reputation 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.

The following should give you an idea of how we display photos on the whatbird website. Photo Page
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 web page. 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

Below is an example of a bio and photo on our contributor’s page.


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

iPhone Photos
11Tap to Enlarge 10Tap to Enlarge
Before Full Screen After Full Screen

iPad Photo Page
The iPad platform allows for even more features. Your photos appear on the gorgeous iPad screen at 576 x 720 pixels. At the bottom of the screen is a credit area where we display your full name as the photographer on a button that opens your website. You can tap another button to see a slide show accompanied by the species song of just your photos so you can use it as a personal exhibition gallery. The point is that this is a feature for promoting you and your work. There is a scrolling set of thumbnails for the species on the left. You flick it to scroll it up or down. When you tap on any thumbnail, it instantly opens in the full-sized image.

There are other features we will be adding, including a description page where customers can learn more about how you took the shot.

iPad Photos
6Tap to Enlarge 7Tap to Enlarge
Photo page. Note links to photographer website, just his or her photos and slideshow button Slideshow for single photographer showing Owl collection


Identification is our Goal. The photos we show on the 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
Here are examples of photos that we can and can't use and the reasons why. Please read this carefully as it will prevent you from wasting a lot of 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 864 wide x 1080 tall 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, 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, and 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 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 scale down these specific formats for the web page, as well as smartphone, but not for tablet devices.

1. Photos may be in portrait or landscape mode.

2. Portrait Mode Size: 864 pixels wide x 1080 pixels high. Resolution is 72 pixels per inch and image type is 24-bit PNG non-interlaced.

3. Landscape Mode Size: 1025 pixels wide x 820 pixels tall. Resolution is 72 pixels per inch and image type is 24-bit PNG non-interlaced.

Scaled Down for Web. Note both these resolutions are higher than we have used in the past. The reason we are requesting a higher resolution is because mobile phones and tablets have increased their display density quite a bit in the last few years and we want to make sure your photographs look great and do not show any pixelation. On our website we will scale these sizes down to 576 pixels wide x 720 high for portraits and 800 pixels wide x 534 tall for landscape.

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 this, make sure the files are converted to the sRGB color space before saving as a PNG.

4. Please include the species name in your file name. Please use the species name as it appears on our website, and include sex or phase if known. Only include dashes if they are in the official American Ornithological Union (AOU) 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.

5. AOU Spelling. If you are not sure about the correct spelling of the species name, or can't find the name on the search page please refer to the American Ornithological Union website which lists birds of North America. Here is the link:

Perhaps because iBird and are so popular, the response to our request for photos has been overwhelming. Therefore if you have photos you would like to submit, we ask that you first send us a link to a website photo gallery, such as Picasa or Flickr, so that we can review them. If you don't have a gallery, then we ask that you submit only a few examples. Please ZIP up 3 or 4 photos in the format we specified above and then send them using the ”submit sample photos” link below. This will take you to our iBird website "Contact Us" page where you can specify that you are sending photos for evaluation. Click this link to submit sample photos: Submit your example photos. Please select the Category "Photo Submission" from the "Reason for Contact" menu.

Please do not send multiple photos as it makes it difficult for us to manage. We appreciate your submissions but we can only use photos which meet the standards described in the first part of this page, e.g., those that have the bird filling most of the frame, are in sharp focus, sized properly and so on. 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 way for you to upload them such as an FTP account or other method.

Specific Photos We Need
At the time of this writing (February 2013) iBird and Whatbird contain a large number of contributed photos from over 50 photographers. However this does not mean we have every single species or that the photos are all perfect. Indeed you may be reading this because you noticed we were missing a particular species photo or the ones we do have were not that great. So to help you know what we are looking for we have prepared a Google spreadsheet you can access on the Internet which lists what species we are missing and which do not have many good photos. To see this list click on this link: Photos Needed for iBird NA and UK.

Photo License Agreement
If we accept any of your photography we will need you to sign a copyright release agreement. This gives us permission to display the photo and defines the limits of our usage. It protects both of us. If you would like to see the agreement now you can click on this link: iBird and Whatbird Photo License Agreement. However please do not fill out the agreement form until you have heard we accept your photos.

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

Michelle Sixta
iBird Senior Photo Editor


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