Search FAQ is built around a powerful database.  Complex searches are possible by selecting from one or more of the fields below.  Try different combinations and see what you get.  It’s fun to try simple searches, too.  Try seeing all the pictures of birds scratching, or Adult with chick(s), or birds singing, or all the species in Illinois.

Reset Button – at the bottom of the page, beneath all the Search criteria,  is the Reset button.  If it is dimmed, there are no search criteria currently in use.  If it is not dimmed, then one or more search criteria are filtering the number of images available for use.  We have found that after viewing images using a search criteria (such as Female), when you return to the Search screen it looks like the criteria is still in place (the same thumbnails are on-screen), but if you click a thumbnail and then navigate left or right of that image, the search criteria is “lost”.  The best way to avoid this is to click the Reset button before doing each search (even if it uses the same criteria)..

NOTE: went online in the fall of 2019 with about 300 species of birds entered (only 9,700 to go!).  If your search gets too specific you may not find any images.  If you search for male Red-wing Blackbirds in Iowa and come up empty it just means no one has submitted a picture of that yet.  In that case try searching for male Red-wing Blackbird in the U.S. or leave the country/state blank.

Species Name

The GreatBirdPics database contains a list of over 10,000 bird species*.  When searching for an image you must enter a species name that exactly matches one in the list (remember, images have not been uploaded of every species).  As you enter the species name you will see a list of possible matches pop-up.  Select the one that is the species you are looking for.  You can leave this blank and searches will find all species using other search criteria (i.e. Birds in Flight, Singing, in Illinois).

Search Tips:

  • Spelling Counts – If you type Comorant there will be no matches.  Type Cormorant and you will get matches.
  • Capitalization Does Not Count – Northern Shoveler and northern shoveler both will match.
  • Hyphens Count – Black-crowned Night-Heron will match.  Black-crowned Night Heron, Black crowned Night-Heron, or Black crowned Night Heron will not match.
  • Use the Correct Species Name – What you commonly call a bird may not be its “official” name.  For example what I call a Robin is an American Robin (there are several types of robins world-wide).  What I call a Phoebe is an Eastern Phoebe.  You usually can get close by typing in the common name and then select the correct species name from the suggested list.

* is indebted to Cornell University and their website eBird where they provide downloadable bird species lists.  They maintain the Clements Checklist, which is updated regularly (the list currently being used by was updated Aug. 2019).  Citation: Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from


Selecting just a country (or U.S. state) will bring up a kind of Field Guide for every species entered from that country/state.  You will see thumbnails of species seen in that country in alphabetical order.  If you click one of the thumbnails you will see a bigger image with a full page of information about that image.  If there is more than one image of that species from that country, you will be able to scroll through all those images.

Or you can select a county/state in combination with other fields (i.e. Red-breasted Merganser flying in Illinois).  If you leave this field blank searches will include species from every country.


Same as Country.


Select Male, Female, or Both M and F in Same Image.  The last option will display images that have both a male and a female of the same species in the image.  If you don’t make a selection all images regardless of gender will be displayed.


Select Adult, Juvenile/Immature, Chick, or Adult with Chick(s).  If you don’t make a selection all images regardless of age will be displayed.

Bird Activity

Birds can be seen engaged in a wide variety of activities – and we have images of many of them.  Select one or more of the following activities:

  • BIF (Bird in Flight)
  • In or by Water
  • Feeding in the Wild
  • At a Bird Feeder
  • Feeding Young
  • Singing
  • Courting/mating
  • Fighting
  • Hunting
  • Preening
  • Bathing
  • Territorial Defense


Use this field to see images of rare species or those that are rare for an area.  For example I saw a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Ottawa County, Michigan in the spring of 2019.  There are lots of them down south but that was the first time in 35 years one had been seen there – it was rare for the area.  Try selecting just this field and see what’s out there.


A basic definition of anthropomorphism is “exhibiting human characteristics.”  Sometimes we get an image of a bird doing something that looks like what humans do.  Current selections include Winking, Scratching, Yawning, and Other.

Comparison to Another Species

Some images include two (or more) different species in them.  For example I’ve uploaded several pictures with a Ring-billed Gull and a Herring Gull in it.  When selecting this field read the Description to see what other species are shown in the image.


Some beautiful pictures may not be a great picture of a bird.  That’s Artsy-Fartsy.  For example I uploaded a picture of a Double-crested Cormorant flying across the sunset with a bird in its mouth.  Not a great picture of the bird (silhouetted) but a beautiful picture (in my humble opinion).  Try selecting just this field to see some beautiful pictures.

Member Name

You can choose to see the images of any GreatBirdPics member if you know their user-name.