How to Contribute to Birds of the World

Paul G Rodewald August 12, 2020
Guianan Cock-of-the-rockRupicola rupicola

Birds of the World (BOW) engages a global community of contributors inspired by playing a part in the world’s largest, most comprehensive ornithological resource. Contributors play a central role in maintaining the depth and accuracy of the resource.

Species accounts are under continual revision by experts around the world. Likewise, media assets (photos, audio recordings, video) are contributed by both amateur and professional ornithologists, and photographers on an ongoing basis.

Why should I contribute?

By contributing to BOW, you are joining a community of experts committed to building a global ornithological resource. We aim to make BOW the singular source for the collected biology of all birds of the world, and to generate authoritative and complete species accounts for roughly 10,700 bird species.

Each BOW species account is a citable scientific publication identifiable by DOI. Individual contributors to BOW accounts receive authorship or acknowledgment for their contributions. Aside from traditional authorship, BOW is a great venue to publish datasets, media, and observations that may be less well-suited for traditional research journals.

Organizations such as the American Ornithological Society, Bird Count India, Birds Caribbean, Aves Argentinas, and many others, who have agreed to revise and maintain accounts will have their logo displayed on species accounts and the homepage and may negotiate complimentary BOW access for their constituents.

Contributors who have authored or revised species accounts or contributed media catalogues, receive complimentary Contributor Access to BOW. Contributor Access is active for two years and may be renewed at any point during that time by participating in the revision or maintenance of species accounts.

How can I contribute?

If you are interested in revising a species account, a group of accounts, or contributing media there are several ways to get involved. There are many opportunities to contribute to existing accounts or sections of existing accounts.

Contributing text

BOW is seeking revisers and contributors for many species for two types of updates:

  1. Full revision: involves assessment of the entire account with updates across as many sections as appropriate commensurate with the publications on the species’ biology. Revisers should aim to do an exhaustive literature search and populate text and references into as many of the pages, sections, and subsections as possible.
  2. Partial revision: does not involve an update of the entire account. Examples of partial revisions include revisions to update systematics/taxonomy, additional information from one or a few publications, and/or revision of one or more sections by a subject matter expert.

If you are interested in revising an account, please contact Managing Editor, Brooke Keeney (, to discuss possibilities. Include your name (First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name), one or more species of interest to you, a little about your background and experience with your species of interest (or birds generally), and your Cornell Lab username. If you don’t already have a Cornell Lab (or eBird) username, create one here. You can also submit your information via the Contributor Sign-up  Form.

Contributing media

We are constantly seeking media to augment BOW species accounts. In general, we appreciate all high-quality images, audio, and video, but we are particularly interested in media that illustrates aspects of a species’ ecology, habitat, life history, behavior, and/or other relevant details of species’ biology. See the Contributor Portal for more details.

If you are already a Birds of North America (BNA), Neotropical Birds (NB), Handbook of Birds of the World (HBW), or Birds of the World (BOW) contributor and looking for guidelines, policies, or have questions about style, formatting, access, or other please visit our Contributor Portal.

If you are attending the #NAOC2020 conference this week, please join our roundtable “Birds of the World: Contribute your expertise!“ on Wednesday, 12 August, 4:00-5:00 PM.  If you missed it, it will be available via video in the online conference planner.