Bird Checklists

Bird watching checklists are an essential tool for any bird watcher, whether they are a beginner or a seasoned pro.

These lists help keep track of the birds seen during each outing and can be used to identify and study different species.

What Exactly Is A Bird Checklist?

A bird checklist is a key resource for bird watchers, researchers, and conservationists, listing the bird species found in a specific area.

This list is organized in a standard format, allowing people to mark off each species they encounter, often referred to as ‘ticks’ in birding terms.

Originally, checklists were simple records of bird sightings, but they have evolved into detailed documents customized for different regions around the world. Thanks to the internet, it is now easy to access these checklists, whether for a local park or an entire continent.

Bird species on a checklist are arranged in phylogenetic order, which means they are listed based on their evolutionary relationships.

Generally, birds at the top of the list have evolved the least from the common ancestor (perhaps considered a theropod dinosaur) while birds at the bottom have evolved the most.

Checklists come in various forms. They can be as simple as a list of observed species or more detailed with life history codes indicating if a bird is a resident, breeding, migrant, or other statuses.

There are also specialized checklists for specific projects like breeding bird atlases and biodiversity monitoring programs.

These checklists are useful for everyone, from beginner birders learning about the birds in a new region to experienced birders tracking their observations. They are also valuable tools for citizen science programs, enabling volunteers to document bird presence, behavior, and distribution.

Overall, bird checklists help with bird identification and monitoring, contributing to our understanding of bird populations. By pooling data from many bird watchers, these checklists support research and conservation efforts, making them an essential tool for anyone interested in birds.

In essence, a bird checklist not only serves as a practical guide for bird watching but also plays a crucial role in enhancing our knowledge and conservation of bird species.

Checklist Resources

There are numerous resources available for bird watching checklists, both online and in print.

The United States is one of the most popular destinations for bird watchers with around 20% of the population taking part in the sport of birding. This country is also responsible for the vast majority of birding resources.

Due to this popularity, we’ve included links to the official state bird checklists from all 50 states in the U.S. These checklists are typically issued by each state’s Bird Records Committee, affiliated with their respective Ornithology or Audubon Society.

Below each link, we’ve also included any existing articles on our website related to that specific state. These articles mainly provide guides on how to spot specific birds or bird species within that particular state.

Other Resources

1. American Ornithological Society’s Checklist

Find here: AOU Checklist of North and Middle American Birds (

The American Ornithological Society’s (AOS) Checklist is the authoritative source for bird taxonomy in North and Middle America, including adjacent islands. Developed by the North American Classification and Nomenclature Committee (NACC) of the AOS, this checklist provides comprehensive taxonomic information.

The checklist covers a wide area, spanning North and Central America from the North Pole to the boundary of Panama and Colombia, including nearby islands. It also includes the Hawaiian Islands, Clipperton Island, Bermuda, and much of the West Indies.

The NACC operates on a proposal basis, allowing anyone to submit suggestions for taxonomic changes, name updates, or new distribution records.

Proposals require a 2/3 positive vote from committee members to pass, and final outcomes are published in the annual supplement.

2. Avibase – The World Bird Database

Find here: Avibase – Bird Checklists of the World (

Avibase is an extensive database of bird taxonomic and distribution data from around the world. It emphasizes taxonomic concepts rather than just names, providing a unique and insightful resource.

With checklists for over 20,000 geographic regions, Avibase includes detailed species pages with taxonomic information and synonyms.

Users can maintain their own sightings and generate maps to locate target species.

The database includes common names in nearly 200 languages and offers printable illustrated checklists. Avibase provides official lists from recognized authorities and the latest updates from internet forums and birding communities, making it a reliable and user-friendly resource for bird enthusiasts.

3. eBird

Find here: Explore – eBird

eBird is a platform that enhances birding experiences by enabling users to find more birds and keep track of bird lists, photos, and sounds. It allows for the exploration of the latest sightings from around the world and participation in a global birding community, contributing to science and conservation efforts.

eBird gathers unique knowledge from birdwatchers in the form of bird checklists. This information is archived and shared to support data-driven approaches to science, conservation, and education.

Tools such as real-time species distribution maps and alerts for newly sighted species are provided. Managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, eBird is a significant biodiversity-related science project with over 100 million bird sightings contributed annually.

Data on bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends are collected through a simple checklist system, accessible via a free mobile app and a comprehensive website. eBird collaborates with numerous partners and regional experts to ensure data quality and reliability.

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