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About Avibase

Avibase is an online database that organizes bird taxonomic and distribution data globally. At its core, the database relies on the notion of taxonomic concepts rather than taxonomic names. The rationale and the methodology for this were explained in a paper published in ZooKeys (Lepage et al., 2014). This web site offers checklists for over 20,000 geographic regions of the world, species pages with taxonomic information and synonyms, and tools for observers to maintain their own sightings and obtain reports (e.g. map showing countries or eBird hotspots with the number of target species that are missing from one of their life list).

Avibase incorporates taxonomic data from the major taxonomic publishers (Clements's checklist, HBW/Birdlife, IOC Checklist and Howard and Moore) and other regional sources (e.g. all editions of the AOU checklist since 1886). Taxonomic concepts in over 230 different taxonomic sources have been mapped and cross-referenced to Avibase concepts.

Avibase has been created and maintained by Denis Lepage, Senior Director, Data Science and Technology at Birds Canada. The site has been hosted by Birds Canada from its inception.

Brief history

  • Start of the Avibase database in 1991, mostly for tracking global bird names and regional lists.
  • The inception for Avibase taxonomic concepts was based on the list published in 1993 by Commission internationale des noms fran├žais des oiseaux.
  • The Avibase public web site was launched in 2003.
  • In 2007, thumbnail images from Flickr were integrated in various outputs of the web site to create illustrated checklists of birds.
  • In 2008, links to Xeno-Canto where added and the ability to listen to bird songs was incorporated in Avibase.
  • A dedicated Avibase Flickr group was created in 2012.
  • In August 2013, a new feature called MyAvibase was launched that allowed visitors to create a personalized account, start tracking their life lists and generate reports to identify target areas or periods to see birds.
  • In 2014, the ZooKeys paper explaining the inner workings of Avibase was published.

Data available in Avibase

Avibase is used for several purposes. At its root, it is a database of taxonomic concepts and contains descriptions of nomenclatural data and taxonomic mappings. This information is summarized into taxonomic concept pages (e.g. American Robin, Avibase ID D77E4B418D581FB2). In addition, it also provides users over 20,000 regional checklists, which are available according to a number of taxonomic authorities constantly being maintained, and also include common names in nearly 200 possible languages, and the ability to create printable PDF versions as wel as illustrated checklists. Regional checklists include all countries, territories and dependencies, and most regions defined in the GADM subnational layers such as provinces, states, prefectures, counties, departments, municipalities and districts (GADM levels 1 and 2), as well as over 2,500 islands.

Distribution data for checklists comes from a wide array of references and are constantly being reviewed for new records and changed decisions. Whenever available, list from published authorities (e.g. regional rare bird committees) as used as primary source of information. Official lists are generally only available for countries (though not for all countries), and some states and provinces (e.g. US, Canada, Australia). A few times per year, records from the eBird EBD dataset published by Cornell Lab of Ornithology are also scrutinized and incorporated into species distribution data when appropriate on the basis of the details provided. Internet forums, such as the Facebook Global Rare Bird Alert, the American Bird Association blog, the HBW first country record, Birdguides, and the Tarsiger web site are used to supplement distribution records. New potential records not yet vetted by rarity committees in a region are generally provisionally evaluated on the basis of the information and documentation provided before they are included in Avibase, which may lead to minor differences betwen the official lists and Avibase.

Type of propertyNumber of records
Total number of records50,875,925
Taxonomic data
Number of unique taxonomic concepts (Avibase ID)59,966
Number of taxonomic concept authorities (e.g. Clements)27
Number of taxonomic concept versions mapped (e.g. Clements, version 2019)268
Number of species taxonomic concepts from authorities2,271,902
Number of subspecies taxonomic concepts from authorities1,767,893
Nomenclature data
Number of scientific names87,536
Number of known basionyms39,901
Distribution data
Number of regional checklists81,895
Number of distribution records32,660,033
Number of published references used3,636
Common names and multimedia
Number of synonyms1,472,951
Number of bird song recordings indexed2,847,678
Number of bird photos indexed (Flickr)2,792,226
Number of data contributors914
Number of photos contributors1,896
Number of Avibase users9,842

Avibase has been visited 388,224,776 times since 24 June 2003. © Denis Lepage | Privacy policy