Privacy Policy

This policy applies to the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) website jointly administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Cornell Lab) and the National Audubon Society (Audubon) with input from Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada (BSC). The site operates under the domain names and GBBC data are submitted via eBird and are subject to eBird’s privacy policy.

The Cornell Lab, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada are committed to protecting the privacy of those who visit the GBBC website. This privacy policy explains what kind of information is collected when a visitor comes to the site and how our organizations use, share, and protect that information. If you do not agree with this privacy policy, please do not use the website.

This privacy policy applies to personally identifiable information such as name, postal address, email address, and phone number. If a visitor leaves the GBBC website via links to other sites, other and different privacy policies will apply. No financial transactions are handled via the GBBC site and no third-party advertising is used or tracked from the site.

Personal Information Collected and How it is Used

In most cases, visitors to the Great Backyard Bird Count website remain anonymous and are not required to register or provide personal information to access the content provided. There are four instances when personally identifiable information is requested:

1) When participants in the GBBC enter bird checklists online an email address is required. This allows data reviewers to verify unusual sightings and preserve the quality of the data collected for the GBBC.

2) When GBBC participants voluntarily complete an online survey about their experience, they may be asked for name, address, and email, but this information is not required. The survey solicits information about bird-related activities along with demographic data. GBBC participants may choose to leave any question unanswered or refrain from participating in the survey. The survey is administered via a third-party independent, non-profit organization called, which is a licensee of the TRUSTe Privacy Program. Survey Monkey’s privacy policy states: “We [Survey Monkey] will not use the information collected from your surveys in any way, shape, or form.” To view Survey Monkey’s complete privacy policy, visit:

3) When GBBC participants upload a digital image to be considered for the photo contest, they are asked for an email address. If the image is posted in the online photo gallery, the participant’s name and state or province of residence may be included only if voluntarily supplied. The email address allows GBBC staff to contact the photographer if an image is selected as a finalist and/or winner in the contest. A winner will be contacted by email and asked to supply his/her mailing address so that a prize may be delivered from Audubon, the Cornell Lab, or the outside vendor that donated the prize. On occasion we may also notify a photographer if his/her image is used for another website, publication, or project.

4) If an individual voluntarily agrees to become an ambassador for the GBBC project, he/she will be asked for contact information that may include phone, address, and email. Those who wish to act as media spokespersons for the GBBC agree to allow GBBC staff supply their contact information to a media outlet upon request.

Email and/or street addresses collected via the GBBC website are never sold to a third party. Except as stated in items three (3) and four (4), and except as may be required by law, such information is never given to third parties. It is used to maintain communication with GBBC participants to answer questions or to pass along information about other subjects that may be of interest including, but not limited to, other birding projects offered by Audubon, the Cornell Lab, and Bird Studies Canada, including membership in these organizations. Information voluntarily supplied by participants in the form of comments or demographic data is not shared with any outside agency and is used by the Cornell Lab, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada to improve the project and meet the needs of participants.

Non-personally Identifiable Information Collected

Non-personally identifiable information is also gathered when visitors use the GBBC website. An Internet Protocol (“IP”) address is often associated with the portal through which a visitor enters the Internet, such as an Internet service provider (ISP). Standing alone, an IP address is not personally identifiable. IP addresses may be used to collect information about which GBBC web pages visitors use most and where they spend the most time. This is an effort to improve what is offered on the website.

The GBBC website also uses cookies. Cookies are small text files that are stored on a user’s computer and allow websites to remember information about users. We use transient (also called “session ID”) cookies to provide continuity from page to page. A session ID cookie expires when you close your browser. We also use persistent cookies. Persistent cookies allow the GBBC website to recognize your browser when you return after your first visit to that part of our website. You can choose to remove persistent cookies through your browser options.

Finally, the GBBC website uses a variety of technical methods for tracking purposes, including clear gifs (also known as web beacons). Clear gifs are small pieces of data that are embedded in images on the pages of websites. We use these technical methods to tell us what parts of the website you have visited. These technical methods may involve the transmission of information directly to us or to a service provider authorized by us to collect information on our behalf. We also use these technical methods in HTML emails that we send our visitors who have agreed to receive email from us, to determine whether our visitors have opened those emails and/or clicked on links in those emails. The information from use of these technical methods may be combined with information that is personally identifiable so that we can make our website, and any emails you have agreed to receive, more interesting to you.

Audubon, the Cornell Lab, and Bird Studies Canada do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13. If you are 13 years or younger do not submit personal information to this site without parental consent.

Policy Changes

Audubon and the Cornell Lab may amend this privacy policy at any time. If we make any material changes in the way we collect, use, and/or share your personally identifiable information, we will post notice of the changes on the GBBC website. In any event, changes to this privacy policy may affect our use of personally identifiable information that you provided us prior to our notification to you of the changes.


If you have questions or wish to send comments about this privacy policy, please write to:

Great Backyard Bird Count
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850


National Audubon Society
1150 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036