How Often do you Submit Observations of Robins?

How often do people submit observations of very common species, and how do you decide?

I’ve taken the approach of submitting once for each location. I’m trying to fill in an inventory of species for locations, to reflect the natural community type. So, if I’ve documented hemlock presence (and an indication of prevalence in the comments) one year, I don’t need to document it the next year.

But with moths, I submit once per year, since populations and ranges change much more quickly. And I would like to submit more often, to indicate when flights occur.

Thoughts? Other approaches?

you can kind of do what you want as long as you are correctly logging organisms (and marking captive things as such), from every robin you see to none, since there’s no set protocol for what data to collect. I am interested in range maps and community ecology so i mark each species i observe either once on a hike or once per habitat type When i do the latter i get duplicates within a smaller area sometimes (like one per wetland type in a wetland complex). That’s useful to me, but others might find it uninteresting or useless and thus there’s no need to do it. Others just want to build their life list and only record each species they observe once. That’s totally up to you!

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I basically do whatever I feel like doing.

When I go to a new place, I do try to record a little bit of everything, especially if I think that area has not been well-surveyed on iNat previously.

I feel there is nothing wrong with recording common species. I am particularly likely to press the button when I have an opportunity to get a really good image of something common, maybe an image that might be suitable to be an icon image for the species.

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I will usually re-submit species that I know I have logged locally if it reflects a seasonal change (so for robins, the first time I see them again in the spring). Other species I log any time I see (monarchs). When I’m in a new area, I’ll log anything that catches my attention/will sit still long enough for me to get a picture. Beyond that its anything that catches my attention or I’m curious about its ID.

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I don’t submit a ton of repeat observations but I don’t particularly try to avoid it. I have a couple different motivations for when I submit to iNat:

  • I see something completely new and different! I definitely want to take this to iNat so I can find out what it is and/or add it to my list of observed organisms.
  • I see something that belongs to one of the categories I don’t have a lot of skill in identifying (various arthropods and plants in particular). I take a picture and put it on iNat in case it’s something new. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s a repeat.
  • I’ve seen and reported this organism before, but it’s reasonably uncommon, so it feels like a significant thing to report.
  • I’ve seen and photographed this organism before, but I had a good opportunity to take a nice photo, saw it do something neat, or had an otherwise low-key notable time observing it.
  • It’s been a while since I’ve put this species on iNat at this location. I’ve got time, guess I’ll get a quick photo.

Etc. etc. So, I don’t go out of my way to submit every robin I see, but I don’t particularly try to avoid it either if I happen to decide to get a photo.


I observe common species once per trip, for the most part. Sometimes I’ll forget what I’ve taken a photo of already and end up submitting something 2 or 3 times. If I see different sexes, or some juveniles, I might try to submit one per sex and age.

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I’ve never submitted an observation of a robin because I haven’t seen one since joining iNaturalist.

Snarky answer out of the way, I typically add an observation of something I think might be a common species if it’s going to be a new addition to my life list, if I think it will be the first observation for the location, if the qualify of my photo is better than the current taxa image, and/or if I think it might help flesh out the seasonality/temporal information on the taxa page.

For the last category in particular, I try to take a photo of the nearby cherry blooms and my first butterfly sightings of the spring to see how those have been changing over time. And since I tend to focus on arthropods in a smaller iNaturalist community (South Korea), information on species presence seems like it would be helpful to record. I’m still encountering cases where myself or another user has uploaded an observation that has become the only record at family-level in the entire country, making me more likely to grab a photo of something that might have multiple records at family or genus level in the hope that it might be useful for comparison purposes.

I’ve just started, but my intent is to take a observation of different plants once per trip. This will show differences based on season. Moving targets I’ll take a few observation, being that conditions and luck play more of a role on whether you see the subject and whether you get a usable photo.

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I don’t do that as a comprehensive strategy, but I do like to have records of common local plants at various stages of development, as I find a lot of things only get observed when they are at their showiest, or most obviously identifiable, but in reality, they’re doing their thing all year long. So if I have a confirmed id on a particular plant, I’ll follow it to see it go through seed, dormancy, whatever, or I have an unconfirmed and want it confirmed, I’ll go back to the specimen multiple times in hopes of finding it at its most readily identifiable.

When you live somewhere with long winters, I find it’s really enjoyable to document the first of everything for the spring/year. Then I like to look back and realize that a particular species always shows up about the same week every year. There are those species that I see pretty much every day, but don’t take a photo of every day because that would get old fast. Nobody wants to see 30+ house sparrow observations from my home 365 days a year! I often add them just to be a little more representative of what I’m actually seeing though. When I see things that are not very common here I might take a photo of it each day that I see it, to document how long it stuck around for. I realize that makes for a not very accurate representation of the area though.

I started off just adding one of each species I saw for a life list, but then when they made the uploading so much easier I decided to just put up most of what I had. I’m currently showing 3,952 observations of 640 species, so I do the same species somewhat frequently. But, that’s not too bad considering I don’t travel much at all, and the bulk of my observations are from my own yard. I also steer clear of plant observations for the most part.


One of the things I like about iNat, is you can look back over your own observations and see just how much more of what is around you that you are noticing.I look at surges in species, where I met others at bioblitzes that showed me how to find things I had never seen before, and I see the flurry of obs of sparrows or some other “common” species where I had learnt something new about them, and went nuts on them. Or a new technique for photographing that opens up new windows into nature (like when I first got my macro diopter) or learnt how to do birds in flight…


“Listers” are content to have one observation of an American Robin. Then they’re done with them.
“Data Gatherers” document every robin they see, any place, any time. I’m definitely in this category, also known less politely as Bean Counters.
What other iNat archetypes may there be, and how do they respond to robins?


“Photographers” create a new American Robin observation every time they manage to get a better closeup or buy a new camera.

“Learners” add a new observation every time they forget what an American Robin looks like, leading to a sort of spaced repetition where the gaps between observations get longer and longer.


I probably submit an American Robin if I have some doubt as to whether the location I am in in has had one submitted or if time of year is a factor. Also depends on whether or not I am doing a "survey " of the area. And by the way, I just did and I think I have at least one more.

I’ll photograph common species at least once each time I’m out, maybe multiple times if I haven’t seen much in a bit. Though there are other species which are extremely common, but poorly recorded which I gather many records of.

i’m more or less a ‘mapper’:

-when in a new place or new habitat type, document everything i can (depending on how much time i have of course, so usually not full inventory)
-When it’s a new season map things I probably couldn’t see before (if i was only on a trail in the fall then go in the spring, map spring ephemerals)
-When I am at home or somewhere else i go to frequently, map only things that seem notable or important or taxa i have learned recently.

My goal, among other things, is to fill out fine scale range maps and compile species lists by habitat type. because of the former, i am more likely to drill down in places I don’t have to obscure. I am often on private land for work and if i don’t know if the landowner wants the info public i obscure. And i don’t ask usually, i just obscure. In those cases, I do less of the inventory because i know it won’t go on the maps. That’s part of why i get upset about expanded auto obscure. It means a bunch of data i collected for that reason doesn’t really work any more.

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This year I observed a lot of (European) robins. There were more than in other years. Apparently, there is a general increase of (European)robins this year. I think, it can be useful to observe common species like the (European) robin to see changes over the years.

When I bird, I always record everything that I am able to identify definitively.

I then always enter my data into eBird. eBird encourages users to report all species they were able to identify, and marks these as “complete checklists”.

iNaturalist is very different and it seems less oriented towards birding specifically. I personally think that iNaturalist is a little better for plant and insect reports than bird reports, as eBird already handles these very thoroughly. So I haven’t felt as motivated to report birds on iNaturalist. The time it would take to enter a complete bird checklist into iNaturalist would be exhausting. When I bird, I may see 20-30 species or even as many as 50 on some sites at some times of year.

If I saw a compelling reason and benefit to reporting bird observations on iNaturalist in addition to eBird, I might start doing more of it. For something like a robin though, there are already going to be a ton of reports on iNaturalist.

Once I saw a very rare bird, a tropical kingbird, in Philadelphia; it was the first state record in PA and I got a half-decent photograph (a better photographer returned and got some much better photos later and also heard it vocalize.) In a case like that, I would probably also upload the observation to iNaturalist becuase it seemed notable.

Dozens of robin observations don’t contribute as much. It certainly doesn’t hurt to report them repeatedly…but I have better things to do with my time!

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I’m kind of the same. My bird observations go into eBird, which is set up for recording high volumes of observations at the species level and doesn’t require any documentation for each observation unless it gets flagged for rarity/high count. I generally don’t photograph common species like robins unless I encounter an especially awesome composition or there is something unique about an individual or its behavior.

The bird observations I add to iNaturalist fall into the following categories:

  • CNC observations
  • observations where I need ID help
  • observations that contribute to a more complete species record for a location
  • dead birds
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