Importing data from a custom Excel to My Birding

If you keep your lifelist in a custom Excel sheet, and wish to take advantage of My Birding, there is a special Excel import tool available.

Data setup

Download our template and fill it with your lifelist data. If you are not sure how to fill in the data, you can download this sample file.

When our CSV template or sample file is opened in your spreadsheet edition software, 19 distinct columns have to be displayed, from column A (labeled as “Species name (english)”) to T (labeled as “Ringed”).

Depending on your computer and software configuration, you may have some difficulties to open them and/or get the correct display.

An example of our sample file not correctly opened in Microsoft Office Excel 2007:


To properly open the file, follow these steps for Microsoft Office Excel 2007:

  1. Open the Microsoft Excel program.

  2. Click on Data, then click the From Text button in the Get External Data menu. Pick our template file in the files browser where you previously downloaded it. If the file doesn’t show, change the Office files option to All files. Click on Open.
    This will bring up the Text Import Wizard.

  3. In the first step, make sure you have Delimited set as the first option.

  4. In the second step, make sure you check the box next to Comma. This will then show your data in columns at the bottom.


  1. The third step simply lets you choose the format of the data, such as numbers, text, or dates. Don’t change the default options. Just click Finish and the data will be imported into your spreadsheet.

You are now ready to copy each column from your custom lifelist and paste it to our sample template. Don’t forget to delete the examples (second and third row) but keep the header (first row)!
Here are the columns you will have to duly complete:

Letter Header label Content


Species name (English)

The full English name, for example “Black-necked Grebe”.



Species name (scientific)

The scientific Latin name composed of a genus and a species, for example, “Podiceps nigricollis”.



Birdlist name (checklist place)

Provide a short description of where you went birding. For example: "Roadside birding along Pipeline Road", "En route from Quito to Papallacta" or "4 days at Pantiacolla Lodge".




The latitude (Signed degrees format) is a decimal number whose range goes from -90 to 90, for example: "41.403626375".

Mandatory if Country/Territory is not provided.



The longitude (Signed degrees format) is a decimal number whose range goes from -180 to 180, for example: "-3.40".

Mandatory if Country/Territory is not provided.


Country / Territory

Must match either the 2-letter code or the name of one of the territories listed at
The species distribution when you add sightings to a birdlist will be based on it.

Mandatory if latitude and longitude are not provided.

Strongly recommended in addition to the coordinates in order to optimize geolocation.


Subspecies name

The subspecific Latin name, for example, “livia” or “domesticus”.


Number of individuals

Must be an integer, for example, 2 (it cannot be an estimate, like “3+”).


Birdlist date

The birdlist start date.

DD/MM/YYYY format, for example, “06/11/2015” or “24/02/1999”.

Not mandatory, but highly recommended to make the most of all of My Birding features: among other things, all the sightings that will be created will take the Birdlist date; and the First Sighting for a given species can not be calculated by the system if the sighting has no date.


Birdlist hour

The birdlist start hour.

HH:MM 24-hour format, for example, “11:30” or “20:00”.

K Sighting hour HH:MM 24-hour format, if different from the Birdlist hour.



Your personal notes.

Double quotation marks are forbidden. Any special format from your spreadsheet software will not be imported.



1 if the species was photographed, otherwise leave empty.



1 if the species was videoed, otherwise leave empty.



1 if the species was recorded, otherwise leave empty.


Heard only

1 if the species was only heard, otherwise leave empty.



1 if captive, otherwise leave empty.



1 if escaped, otherwise leave empty.


Do not count

1 if the sighting is uncertain, otherwise leave empty.



1 if the species was ringed, otherwise leave empty.


If you are not sure how to fill in the data, remember you can download this sample file.

After collecting the data in the CSV file, please make sure none of your cells have line breaks or double quotation marks.

Then save the file without altering the properties, that is, as a UTF-8 and comma-separated (or semi-colon) CSV file.

In case an assistant pops up while saving the file, the complete file requisites are:

  • One-row header
  • Separator: comma (or semi-colon)
  • Text delimiter: " (double quote)
  • Character set: Unicode (UTF-8)
  • Language: English (USA)
  • ​Quoted field as text

The following are ways you can do this with some common spreadsheet applications (please note that this is not an exhaustive list; please refer to the documentation for the relevant application and version you are using if these do not work for you):

  • MS Excel:
    • Click menu > Save As (Other Formats)
    • Enter a name for the file and choose "Unicode Text (*.csv)" for "Save as type:"
    • Click Save
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007:
    • Click menu > Save As (Other Formats)
    • Enter a name for the file and choose the CSV (MS-Dos) option
    • Click OK to confirm to the program you only want to save the current sheet
    • Click Yes to confirm to the program you want this format
  • Google Docs/Sheets:
    • Go to File > Download As
    • Select Comma-separated values (.csv, current sheet)
  • LibreOffice:
    • Go to File > Save As...
    • File Type: choose Text CSV
    • Check the “Edit filter settings” option
    • Click the Save button
    • Character Set: Choose "Unicode (UTF-8)"
    • Field delimiter: , (comma)
    • Text delimiter: “ (double quote)
    • Check “Quote all text cells”
    • Click OK.
  • Numbers (Mac):
    • Click on File
    • Hover over Export
    • In the submenu that appears, choose CSV
    • Click on Advanced Options to show the Text Encoding dropdown
    • Select Unicode (UTF-8) from the dropdown menu
    • Click Next
    • Click Save

We are aware that some contexts described in the steps above are not necessarily the ones with which you will be faced. This depends on external circumstances that we cannot fully control, such as your operating system, the software you use to open the file, and the configuration of this software.

Create the import to My Birding

Follow these steps in order to upload your records to My Birding:

  1. To create a new import, go to the My Birding main page and scroll down to the blue block called "Import your sightings from external sources". Click on the "Start a new import process" link.

  2. Choose “Excel” as the external source.

  3. Add your CSV file and click on the Upload button.

  4. Once uploaded, scroll down to the “Save import configuration” button and click on it.

  5. If your file is valid, a confirmation message will appear and you can go to the next step.
    If not, some instructions will be displayed in order to help you to locate the error in the file’s sheet. You will have to edit your file and save it as you already did above. Upload your file and click on the “Continue to next step” to see if the system validates it.

  6. When you’re ready, hit the red button “Enable import process”.

During the import process

The process converts each row from the exported CSV file into sightings along with their respective birdlists.

During the import process, do NOT edit any birdlist or sighting until it is completed.

The system imports the data from the queued CSV files progressively and in the order of arrival of users’ requests. Please be patient!

The page will refresh automatically every 10 minutes to show the progress of the import process.

After the import process

After the import is done, a confirmation message will be displayed, along with a few links to check and improve the imported data.

If some unrecognized species still remain, you will be able to either edit each sighting to manually choose a new one, or choose the correct species for all the sightings affected by the same unrecognized species. The system will make some suggestions so the species can be conveniently and easily corrected.


← Back to General considerations on importing data to My Birding