Do I really get all the contents of the Handbook of the Birds of the World Series in HBW Alive?

You get all the texts, illustrations and maps. Please note that the photographs of HBW are not included as we only hold the rights for the print version usage. However, HBW Alive is linked to multiple sources of bird photographs and the content is also enriched with links to bird videos, sounds and other resources.

I want to use content of HBW Alive. How do I get permission to use it?

All the content of HBW Alive is copyrighted by Lynx Edicions. You may display, reproduce, print or download content from HBW Alive only for your personal use. If you are a teacher or a student, you may copy reasonable portions of the content for lessons or presentations or for similar non profit educational purposes. In each case, you must include the appropriate citation. You may not publish, distribute, retransmit, sell or provide access to content of HBW Alive. You may not use data mining, robots, screen scraping, or similar data gathering and extraction tools on HBW Alive website.

If you want to reproduce or use content for any purpose or in any manner other than as described above, you need to request permission from Lynx Edicions.

HBW Alive features multiple links to photo, audio and video files that do not originate or belong to the site, therefore we are not the copyright owners. If you are interested in using these materials, contact the appropriate copyright owners for permission.

Which biogeographical regions are considered?
Can I still purchase the print version of the Handbook of the Birds of the World Series?

Yes, all the volumes are in print and available. You can purchase them from Lynx Edicions at http://www.lynxeds.com/catalog/hbw or contact Customer Services at lynx@hbw.com.

Checked species, Content I follow, My bookmarks... What are the differences?

Checked species, Content I follow and My bookmarks are some of the many features HBW Alive makes available to the user to personalize his or her experience while navigating through the website and browsing the contents, by marking the contents that in the way you choose.

To mark a content, locate the small icon behind the content title:

Check a species icon  Checked is the way to mark a species a seen or heard (or what you consider), and it's useful to see a world list in the My List page.

Bookmark a species icon  Bookmark is a general flag that can be used by the user for any purpose: to save a page as favourite, provisionally mark a species that is being read in order to continue later, etc. Content that can be bookmarked are: families, species and references. You can see a list on your bookmarks page.

All these flags can be enabled from each specific page and listed in the user page.


How can I upgrade my subscription from basic to supporting membership?

You can upgrade your subscription from Basic Member to Supporting Member from your account page at any time.

Upgrading during a Basic Member subscription consists in the payment of a full year’s Supporting Member fee, less the unused part of the Basic Member subscription. The new upgraded subscription will last for twelve months from the upgrade date. If you are a Basic Member, check out the upgrade price from your account page.

Which are the extra features for the supporting members?

Supporting members have access to all the features that a basic membership offers, plus other advantages:

  • View more information, tracking references to their source (when available on the internet).
  • Full access to all the options of My printable checklist.
  • Manage your personal recordings, reports and lists of bird sightings through My Birding.

Supporting members help us to develop and update the project more quickly and to reach more people by keeping prices down.
We are continuously working to improve the services for the supporting members, and new features may be only available to them.


I have no credit card at this moment. Is there another payment option available?

Yes, you can make payments via PayPal. As well as credit card payment, this service gives you the option of using your PayPal account balance or your bank account. If you don’t have a PayPal account, you can open one at www.paypal.com and link your bank account to it.

Do I have a reduced subscription fee if I have the HBW volumes?

There are no reduced subscription fees. The HBW Alive fees have been kept as low as possible so that the project can be enjoyed by as many people as possible, so no further discounts are available. We are extremely grateful to our HBW customers as they have made these projects possible, but we feel they have been justly compensated as they possess the physical HBW volume(s) they have purchased, while subscribers to HBW Alive only have access to the contents digitally. There are currently various offers available for free registration (saving 20€ on the registration fee).

Technical troubleshooting

I'm not seeing the site correctly from my smartphone/tablet.

The web design changes depending on the screen resolution. If, for example, you’re having trouble with the search box or taxonomic tree, try zooming in on the element in question and the design will change, giving you better functionality. If you're using an smartphone or tablet, we recommend putting it in landscape mode, as this usually means a wider resolution.

My session has expired.

If you sign in to HBW Alive from a particular device (desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile phone,...) and later you sign in from another device, your first session will expire.
HBW Alive uses cookies to measure the sessions.

I can't sign in with my username / password.

HBW Alive allows you to enter an incorrect combination of username and password up to 5 times in a row. After the fifth attempt, your account will be blocked. You can either wait (6 hours) before trying to login again, or unlock your account by clicking on "Forgot your password?" and entering your email. You will receive an email with a link to generate a new password. Please be sure to check, at that time, exactly how your username is entered.

Please note that your username may be different than your email address (you can specify this while editing your account). This is a common mistake and the message "Incorrect username or password" is almost always interpreted as "Incorrect password". However, sometimes the problem is that the username you're trying to use does not exist. If you reset your password, please pay attention to the username you see in the form and use that one in combination with the password you are resetting.

I can't see the pages correctly.

It is possible that some of the functions necessary to view the page have been disabled. The main one is JavaScript, a computer language HBW Alive sometimes uses to display forms, graphics, animations or some special effects, among other applications.
If you have trouble viewing a page, it may be that Javascript is disabled in your browser. To activate it or check that it is enabled, follow the steps indicated below:

Internet Explorer

  1. Click Tools.
  2. Go to Internet Options.
  3. Click the Security tab.
  4. Click the Custom Level button.
  5. Go to the Scripting section.
  6. Select Enable to "Active Scripting".
  7. Click the OK button.

Mozilla Firefox

  1. Go to the Tools menu.
  2. Select Options.
  3. Go to Contents.
  4. Select the Enable Javascript box and click OK

Recommended browsers: We suggest you use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. These browsers have better support.
Screen resolution: HBW Alive has a responsive design which adapts to your device screen. We recommend monitors with 1280 pixels or more, although we are improving the layout for lower resolutions.


Which is the taxonomy used in HBW Alive and IBC?

HBW Alive follows the taxonomy laid out in the HBW and BirdLife International Checklist of the Birds of the World. To help better understand the concept, including the methodology, behind the taxonomy, we recommend that you read the Introduction to Volume 1: Non-passerines and the Introduction to Volume 2: Passerines.

Although the taxonomy has changed, it is possible to compare the new treatment with the original from HBW, which will always remain available on HBW Alive.

Download Excel of HBW and BirdLife Taxonomic Checklist

I cannot find a particular species. Why?

You are probably searching for a name which is different from that used in HBW. Try searching for the scientific name, or looking for the species within its family. There is also an advanced search option under the top "Species" menu item.
Also keep in mind that some taxonomic changes were applied in September 2014 for non-passerine species and related orders, families and subspecies, derived from the recently published HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World.

We are also maintaining a list of Newly described species, regardless of whether we will accept them or not within our taxonomy in the future.

Watch our tutorial How to find Species, Families and Orders.

What do coloured bullet points mean in the “Subspecies and Distribution” section?

The colour-coded bullet points mark subspecies groups, which highlight distinct forms and their relationships.

Further explanation from the Introduction to Volume 1 of the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World of subspecies groups and the coloured bullets:

Subspecies groups—These are informal taxonomic units used in several recent world checklists to highlight seemingly monophyletic groups of taxa (sometimes single subspecies) that at present appear to sit between the species and subspecies levels (although in some cases it seems likely that fuller scrutiny and better evidence will result in their being awarded species rank). Such groups are identified by their possession of one or a number of reasonably distinct characters and which therefore seem worthy of notice (but in most cases no attempt has been made to score these with the Tobias criteria, and no threshold number has been set for the recognition of such groups). They may already have been recognized as species in other lists or accorded a taxonomic status such as “megasubspecies” or “allospecies”, and may already possess English names (which we typically make use of). They may sometimes, however, result from our own work in applying the Tobias criteria, and for these groups we commonly supply our own English names. As a general rule, groups identified through the Tobias criteria were reasonably well marked; the weaker their distinctiveness became, the less likely they were to be separated as groups so that, if a name already existed for them, this was simply given in the Other Common Names section. Also, when an alternative name for a subspecies-group exists it is given under Other Common Names. In some cases a potential group could not be defined because one or more of the taxa involved has or have not been sufficiently studied to determine its or their affiliation.

Bullet points—In this checklist the convention is that subspecies that do not separate into groups retain a black bullet point; those that do separate into groups have bullet points coloured according to group, with the English name blocked out in the same (but more subdued) colour, always with blue for the group with the nominate subspecies, and always with the next groups coloured in the same sequence: red, green, etc.; but the nominate group need not be the first in the sequence, so bullet points may also run red, blue, green, or red, green, blue, entirely depending on the appropriate sequence of the subspecies overall. In many cases the subspecies-groups do not distort the geographical order of the subspecies themselves, but particularly complex patterns of distribution sometimes require alterations to the geographical order as a means of keeping the subspecies together in the appropriate group.

Furthermore, the same colour coding system used for the bullet points is repeated in the illustration section of the species page; the same colours are used in the headers for the figures of each subspecies, clearly marking the same groups and helping the user make clearer connections between the texts and drawings.

What is the distribution map colour key?

Yellow is used to indicate zones habitually occupied for breeding, but where the species is not normally present outside the breeding season.

Blue indicates zones occupied by the species, where it does not normally breed, or where breeding is suspected by has not definitely been recorded; thus, these colours should not be interpreted exclusively as summer and winter distributions, a regular practice in many bird guides, especially in temperate zones.
On the maps of a few species, the only area shaded is blue; this means that in these species, usually seabirds, the general zone occupied is known, but the breeding grounds have not yet been located.

Green is used to indicate areas where the species tend to be present all year round, although this does not preclude the possibility of erratic or dispersive movements, or even partial migration.

What do the species plates illustrate?

The colour plates illustrating all of the birds of the world are one of the most important assets of the HBW series. You can now explore them in many more ways, including generating fieldguide-style plates for any country in the world.

The plates in HBW Alive show figures for all of the bird species of the world, but how many figures do we have? Currently 21,782! A total of 20,919 figures come from the Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, which covers all of the bird species of the world with at least one figure, specifically 8,290 figures of non-passerines and 12,629 of passerines. For those species with sexual dimorphism there are figures for the males and the females. For polytypic species with relevant plumage differences between subspecies, at least two subspecies are illustrated, and for many species several subspecies are illustrated, as you can see in the Horned Lark.

As you may know, in the Illustrated Checklist there are subspecies groups, and all of the subspecies groups are represented by at least one figure, as you can see in the Western Yellow Wagtail.

And for some families, in addition to the full figures, there are also illustrations of the head, as in the case of the Pelicans, Albatrosses and Flamingos.

Most passerines species are shown resting and the majority of non-passerine families are also illustrated at rest, like Scolopacidae, Falconidae, Accipitridae, Spheniscidae and Phasianidae. But some families are illustrated flying, as is the case for many seabirds, like Diomedeidae, Procellariidae and Hydrobatidae, and other families like Apodidae. Over the last few years, we have published various field guides and all of the new illustrations prepared for them are also included in HBW Alive. For the field guides, we prepared new figures of immatures for several bird families like Ardeidae, Laridae and Accipitridae.

To complement the adult breeding plumages of Scolopacidae and Charadriidae, new figures of non-breeding plumages have been done, both flying and resting.

And new figures of flying birds have been included to complement the resting ones for several families like Ardeidae, Scolopacidae, Charadriidae, Laridae, Accipitridae and Falconidae.

But, how many new figures have been uploaded from each field guide? From our guide "Birds of New Guinea, including Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville" more than 300 new figures were uplaoded; you can read more about them here.

And more than 350 new illustrations of non-passerines, as well as almost 100 illustrations with improvements of non-passerines from "Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago; Greater Sundas and Wallacea" have been incorporated into HBW Alive; you can read more about them here.

There are also 50 brand new illustrations from the "Field Guide to the Birds of Machu Picchu and the Cusco Region, Peru" as well as 11 illustrations with small improvements. You can find more information about those figures here.

And this is just the beginning! Right now we are working on more field guides and soon over 300 new figures for our forthcoming field guide to the Birds of Thailand will be incorporated into HBW Alive. Additional figures will be uploaded over the next months from other field guides that we are preparing, so keep an eye on the plates for new treasures to enjoy!


What is the difference between a Trip and a Birdlist?

Trips should group different birdlists from the same country or region. For example, if you go to Kenya for 15 days, you should create just one Trip and call it (for example) “Kenya summer 2014”.

Then, for each different place, you should create a Birdlist. For example “Masai Mara”, “Nairobi (near Airport)”, etc.. Each of these birdlists will contain the sightings made at that specific place.

From the Display data page, you will be able to list the species from the whole trip, or just of one specific birdlist, etc.

How can I create and see my World List?

Supporting members can create birdlists with sightings. From these lists they can generate a World List showing every species they have seen.

Click on World List from the My Birding menu (top menu).

The "My sightings" dropdown is set by default to "Yes". This means that at the bottom of the page you will see your complete World List (all the different species you have sightings for).

Please note that you can filter this list using numerous options: species, family,  global conservation status, etc.

You can print or export this list to Excel.

How can I customize country checklists?

Open the country page using the Geographical tree at the bottom left-hand side of the page.

These are some of the lists you can produce from each country page:

  • A complete list of all species present in the selected country. This is the default list you will see.
  • A list of species previously checked that are present in the selected country (Checked: True). Please note that this does not mean you have seen the species in this country (the check flag is not associated with any country).
  • A list of species without check mark that are present in the selected country (Checked: False).
  • A list filtered by conservation status (select the Conservation status you are interested in, for example, Endangered and Critically Endangered).
  • A list filtered by status of the species in a specific country: regular, endemic, vagrant or introduced (select the Status in country you are interested in).

The penultimate column of the table shows the conservation status and is indicated as follows:

Extinct in the Wild
Critically Endangered
Conservation Dependent
Near Threatened
Least Concern
Data Deficient
Not Evaluated
Not Assessed
I have many records of my sightings on other software or a different website. Can I transfer all these records to HBW Alive?

Supporting members of HBW Alive are just one step away from being able to import their data from BirdTrack, eBird, Ornitho, BirdBase and personal Excel sheets into My Birding.

The imported data is grouped into birdlists, with their respective sightings, and users can easily aggregate a group of new birdlists into a trip, so the material is better arranged and it is easier to look for information and make useful queries.

As different systems follow different taxonomic classifications, in the case that an imported species doesn't match one in the HBW Alive taxonomy, suggestions will be given so that it can be corrected. More information is provided in the “Get the most out of My Birding” section below.

Our idea isn’t that subscribers should switch from these other projects to come to ours, but rather we are trying to create a system that permits subscribers to use their data in multiple platforms, so that people can fulfil different interests at the same time. So, we encourage subscribers to use their data to participate in citizen science projects, while also having these data in My Birding. Like this, the users’ records can be more easily managed and produce richer information at the personal level, and be closely linked with all of the knowledge and materials available in HBW Alive and the IBC.

More about importing your sightings to My Birding

We recommend that before importing your data to My Birding from another system you read these General Considerations, where we explain important information regarding taxonomic discrepancies, different ways that territories are defined and more.

Also, we have created a specific tutorial for each system:

Please note that the Import tool is in its Beta version, meaning that the service is not completely finished, but it is stable enough to be used and evaluated by subscribers making a typical use of their sightings report app/software/website/Excel and carefully following the steps described in the corresponding tutorial.
We also recommend that you have a look at the My Birding User Manual. Divided into seven mini-chapters, the manual gives you a step-by-step tour through our bird sighting recording system, making it easier to navigate and get the most out of My Birding. Many users will be interested in the “Quick Start” chapter, which will help you jump-start your My Birding experience.

If you are not sure about how to proceed, please contact us.

If I am using HBW Alive to record my bird sightings, and one day I decide not to renew my subscription, can I download my data?

Yes. You can download your data in various formats, including text and spreadsheets, at any time up to the last day your subscription is active.

What sort of lists can I produce using the "My List" page?

Click to open the My List page.

HBW Alive does not associate a check mark with any specific territory/country. It’s just a way to quickly see if you have the species marked or not (for whatever reason you have chosen, though most users check species they have actually seen). When you use the Geographic Filter, it shows the list of the species that are present in the selected territory/country, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have seen the species there. To control species you have seen in a specific country or territory, you should use My Birding.

  • Do you want to see a “want list” for a specific country?
    - Select the country in the Geographic Filter
    - Select Checked: False
    - The list displayed will contain all the species without check marks.
  • Do you want to see your list of checked species for a specific country?
    - Select the country in the Geographic Filter
    - Select Checked: True
    - The list displayed will contain all the species with check marks.

Are you interested in more than one country? You can select them on the Geographic Filter and produce the combined “want list” of species! A good way to list your targets for a forthcoming trip to Thailand and Malaysia...


How do I cite HBW Alive?

To cite HBW Alive as a whole, please use the following format:

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G. (eds.) (ENTER CURRENT YEAR). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/ on [DAY/MONTH/YEAR]).

Please enter the current year in parenthesis after the editors. At the end of the citation, you should enter the date on which you retrieved the information using the format day/month/year.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/ on 30 October 2014).


To cite a species account, please go to the bottom of the page of the species account you would like to cite and copy the recommended citation for this species.


Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2014). Spot-fronted Swift (Cypseloides cherriei). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/55256 on 30 October 2014).

Taylor, B. (1996). Blue-faced Rail (Gymnocrex rosenbergii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G. (eds.) (2013). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/53645 on 30 October 2014).

Ornithological notes

Ornithological notes, public comments, my notes, ... What are the differences?

Ornithological notes and public comments are intended to provide information to improve what is presently available in the HBW Alive species’ accounts, but they are certainly not equivalent. If you are considering the possibility of making use of either of them, please note the following.

  • Ornithological notes (previously known as Wikicontributions) should contain your own and unpublished material, related for example to the distribution, ecology, breeding habits or migratory movements of a particular species. They are more or less equivalent to ‘short notes’ in ornithological journals, and in a similar way, before being published they must be checked and if necessary, amended by our editorial team to ensure that they are both valuable and rigorous from a scientific viewpoint.
    If possible, the information provided in an ornithological note should be backed-up by ornithological literature confirming that it is new and of interest. References may be provided by the author, or agreed upon after consultation with the HBW Alive editors. Once reviewed, they will be listed on the ornithological notes main page.
  • Public comments are intended to provide any other type of information of potential interest to the users of HBW Alive, including for example suggestions to correct or improve the current texts, indications of published papers that have not yet been used in the updating process, or links to internet pages containing interesting news on a species.
    Public comments do not have to contain bibliographic references, and they are not subject to editorial processing prior to publication. Please do not comment just to say "nice species" or similar things. We hope we can keep public comments as much scientific and informative as possible.
  • My notes are private notes, created by you for your personal use. They will never be shown to the other users on any part of the HBW Alive website. You may create as many notes as you wish, attaching them to either a species account or a family chapter.
    You shouldn't use notes to add your sightings. We have a much more powerful system for that: My Birding.