Posting numbers with observations

As a fairly new observer, I have been eBirding for over 10 years, less consistently for the past 6. I understand that you don’t want posts made of every observation that you see, but am wondering if things like general numbers seen would be of value. For instance, I have seen locations where I have literally seen hundreds to thousands of Rambur’s Forktails within a fifty yard walk compared to a few at a time at other locations. Does that matter? Or do you just want to know that they are either there or they are not? I have Striped Saddlebags in two locations, which I am told is a big deal (I haven’t posted the second location yet because my camera is at work), but the big deal is that I have seen two at the second location. I think that is kind of important.

I admit I do post multiple images of species at times because I am not sure that they are the same or because they are different sex or color. That will probably change once I become less overwhelmed by what I am seeing. I remember when I first started birding, posting 6 or 7 different pictures of the same species of shorebirds thinking that they were all different only to find out that they were all Sanderlings!

Also, should I just treat everyday like a new day and post everything I see as if I didn’t post it yesterday? The local Mocking birds that call my office their territory, or the pair of Great Horned Owls that I hear periodically on a regular basis. Or do you just want the unusual stuff?

I know that I am asking a lot of questions, but I want to maximize my understanding of your goals.

Thank you,



Those times you post different pictures of the same species at the same place because you didn’t know they were- that isn’t breaking any rules/norms and I would say very literally is the best part of iNat! Connecting with nature and learning about your local environment, and finding out all those varied forms are the same species- just a great example of that!

Strictly speaking the rule is one ob per individual per sighting. You theoretically could post every one of those forktails, but it may not really be contributing much. The general rule I stick to is one ob per species per day at the same location, with exceptions for additional ones for juveniles, odd forms, odd behaviours, moulting, etc. For non-mobile things like plants and fungi, maybe much less often than that- don’t much need 10 obs per month of the tree down the road.

The oft-repeated one I see in discussions like this is that there is no strictly wrong way (excluding breaking rules or ethics) to use iNat, whatever you feel like helps you connect to nature and learn about your surroundings.

Edit: The case of having two in the same spot if that’s unsual- definitely yes that will be interesting to someone and would be nice to have, esp if you can get them in the same photo.


You’re right, every day is a new day and every specimen is a new one! Of course it would be hard to post hundreds of similar birds, but you can use observation field for it and post only one or some of them.


Any data you think could be of use you can always put in the comments or add into an observation field. I wouldn’t worry about being redundant or doing things “wrong” because as @intyrely_eco said, there is no strictly wrong way. More data is always better!

And also think about not just the what and where, but the when. While it’s probably not worth your time to make an observation for a mockingbird every day, it could be useful to make one every month, that way someone using your data can see that they are still being observed there at so and so time of year. Because you can only record presence, not absence, on iNat sometimes being thorough is a good thing.

If you’re observing, for example, a flock or swarm of individuals of the same species (as far as you can tell), you can use the Observation Field Number of individuals to count or estimate how many there were in your Observation.

Here’s an example:


Yes the ‘once a month at least’ is really helpful, not just as data for research, but also for nature observation (though more often certainly doesn’t hurt! Seeing a ton of obs of one species for an area and fewer of another does give a bit of a hint which are likely to be observed there)! I’m planning a big day with some friends and filtering by month helped us plan which spots would be more worth going to, where we might have a better chance for rarities and which to not even bother looking for

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This is one of the big differences between iNat and eBird. iNat is not structured to record quantities like eBird is. You aren’t the first vagrant eBirder to ask this question :)

I’d use the annotation method @xris describes if you want to take the time. But bear in mind that iNat’s primary mission is to “help people connect with nature.” Collecting data for research and statistical models is important, but secondary. When I come across a patch of flowers, or a flock of birds, I’ll usually take whatever close-ups are needed for identification, and then zoom out for context, and move on. You could hack iNat into a digital Grinnell journal, but I’m not sure how satisfactory it would be.

I use both platforms depending on the circumstance. I love what eBird does with the data! However, I’m a novice, and I often feel uncomfortable calling an ID on my own. I like that if I can get a picture or audio recording, others can help me out. I also cross-post my BirdNet observations to iNat, because BirdNet has a legit spectrogram and cropping tool. iNat is my life-list, so it all funnels there if I can.


I get the fastest IDs on my bird Observations on iNaturalist than for any other taxon. :-)

thank you all for your help. I think I can work with that.

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