Requesting maps and media

Media files include maps, photographs, scientific illustrations (cover plates), figures, audio and video files.

We receive many requests for the multimedia assets found on the Birds of the World website. We would love to support every project that advances bird research and education, but we receive many more requests than we can handle and, due to the complex ownership of these crowdsourced materials, in most instances we’re unable to release the assets for external use.

Birds of The World, eBird, Macaulay Library are participatory programs. This means that people and partners all over the world contribute valuable science, art, data, and media that make our work possible. Substantial time, effort, and expense are required to support the Birds of the World enterprise, including our partners and contributors. Therefore, understanding the uses and impacts of these media products, as well as receiving acknowledgement for our work and for the work of the authors and partners we depend on, is essential to sustaining this project.

Please carefully read the information below, which describes the actions to take depending on the asset you are requesting.

Best of luck with your project!

Scientific Bird Illustrations

We understand how appealing the scientific illustrations that appear on Birds of the World are for many uses, but we are unable to fulfill media requests for these assets.

The Cornell Lab owns only the electronic rights to the scientific illustrations while Lynx Edicions own the print rights. This complex ownership creates many hurdles when trying to fulfill usage requests, even for the worthiest of purposes. Truthfully, we receive many more requests than our small staff is able to handle.

While we’d very much like to support all endeavors, especially for something like a scientific journal, our research has revealed that most of these requests require us to give more permissions than we actually own. This informs our decision to deny all future requests.

Queries for print use only should be directed to, but please keep in mind that most journals have a print AND online component and you’ll have to be very explicit in any request you make to Lynx about what type of licensing you are seeking.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and encourage you to look elsewhere for art.


Currently, Birds of the World sources distribution and/or abundance maps from eBird, BirdLife International, NatureServe/Robert Ridgely, and other sources. Because of this shared ownership, we are unable to extend permission to share any map images hosted on Birds of the World. As with any digital asset, we encourage you to consult the original source while seeking permissions.

Fortunately, we can recommend two excellent alternatives. Our colleagues at eBird have developed a growing collection of state-of-the-art eBird Status and Trends maps. You can search for your desired distribution map(s) on their website: If you wish to use one of these eBird maps, please follow their Terms of Use, listed here:

BirdLife International is the source of record for world bird distributions and they provide map files for use in a GIS software through their Data Zone. Make your request here:


Photo, Videos, Audio Recordings

The majority of the photographs, videos, and audio recordings displayed in Birds of the World species accounts are sourced from the Macaulay Library. The original copyright belongs to the media contributor. However, our licensing agreements with these generous contributors offers some flexibility for sharing. Need high-resolution media for research, education, or commercial use? Please follow these steps for requesting media from the Macaulay Library.

Want to embed Macaulay Library media on a blog or website?

It’s easy to embed Macaulay Library media on websites or other pages on the internet. The appropriate data and credit will automatically display along with the image, sound, or video. Simply go to the Macaulay Library page of the piece of media you are interested in and click “Embed.” From the embed menu, choose your preferred size, then click “Copy” to copy the HTML code for use on your page.