Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas
Terms and Conditions

  1. Data permissions

As a NatureCounts user (hereafter, the Participant), you hereby grant Birds Canada a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display any information provided during the course of their survey activities (including, for clarity, observations, comments, location data and media submitted electronically or by other means) and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, software or technology now known or later developed. The Participant shall not be restricted in their ability to use the data they collect as they see fit, for any other purpose. Data submitted to NatureCounts will be peer-reviewed by ornithological experts. Birds Canada and its partners reserve the right to include or exclude data submitted based on peer review or any other reason.

Birds Canada and its partners (Canadian Wildlife Service - Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry - Government of Ontario, Ontario Field Ornithologists, and Ontario Nature) strongly encourage use of data by third-parties, in particular for research, education and conservation purposes. Access to raw data from NatureCounts may be subject to approval by Birds Canada on behalf of its partners. Birds Canada will endeavor to provide access to data at no cost, but may at its discretion request a fee to cover data extraction time for more complex requests. Except as indicated otherwise, participants and NatureCounts users are generally permitted to use and reproduce data and other products displayed or available on our platforms for their own personal use. In some cases, products may be published under a specific license outlining the conditions under which they can be used (e.g. Creative Commons License), or may be subject to specific restrictions (e.g. topographic maps). Otherwise, please contact Birds Canada if you would like to redistribute any the derived products available on our platforms (e.g. species maps, species accounts, etc). 

  1. Privacy policy

Contact information of participants (including address, email and phone number) will not be shared with third parties, and will only be available to the formal project partners (see the current list here for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas), their staff involved with the project, committee members, Regional Coordinators and data reviewers (in regions for which you have provided data, or indicated an interest in participating) or other people designated by Birds Canada, and only for project-related communications in which you are a participant. In addition, if you agree to it during your registration or within your online profile, Birds Canada and project partners may also contact you about other projects and activities.

Unless you indicate otherwise to us in writing or through your online profile, you accept that your name may be included in data summaries, reports or any data product derived from the database where appropriate. 

Other than your contact information, as a general rule, please do not submit data that you do not want to be shared publicly or other information that you deem personal or that may violate the privacy or rights of others. Comments associated with your data, the location and date of your observations for instance will generally be included in public distributions of the data, with some exceptions (e.g., to protect the well being of sensitive species). It is also your responsibility to ensure that you are permitted to submit any data (including photos, recordings and other media), and that doing so does not infringe on other people’s or organization’s rights.

Although we do intend for most of the Data to become public, we do offer options within your online profile to manage the availability of certain types of data, such as your media files and your detailed GPS tracks. Please review these options carefully to ensure that they meet your wishes.

Finally, like most web sites, NatureCounts uses session cookies to enable you to log in onto the site, as well as third -party cookies and other storage technologies to understand the content that is most important to you. Please refer to Birds Canada’s Privacy policy for more details about the use of cookies and more information about how Birds Canada handles your personal information. 

  1. Injury Liability

As a volunteer participant in our programs you are fully responsible for your own safety, and for your own personal insurance in case of injury. You are not considered an employee of Birds Canada or any of the partner organizations, or sponsors. Please exercise great caution and care in the field when collecting data. We are also not responsible for damage incurred to vehicles or equipment while conducting field activities. Participants may be responsible for damage to landowners' property, so please be respectful and exercise caution when treading on private land. Always obtain explicit permission from landowners before accessing private property. Be friendly and polite with landowners and remember that their permission is voluntary and that they are helping us all to achieve our goals for good coverage.


We recommend that participants abide by the following Code of Ethics (adapted from the Ontario Field Ornithologists):

As the number of birders increases, we must all, no matter what our interest in birds, make every effort to act in a positive and responsible way. We must also convey a responsible image to non-birders who may be affected by our activities. 

As more and more pressure is put on our environment it is essential to do whatever we can to protect birds and habitat. Birders should lead by example. We are ambassadors of birding and environmental stewardship. 

The welfare of the birds must come first. 

Whatever your interest, from scientific study to sound recording to photography to listing, always consider the impact of your activity on the bird. Respect bird protection laws and abide by them at all times. 

Protect habitat. 

Habitat is vital for the existence of birds and we must ensure that our activities cause minimum damage to our environment. Use trails, pathways and roadsides, whenever possible, to avoid trampling vegetation. 

Keep disturbance to a minimum. 

Although some birds can tolerate human activity, this varies from species to species and from season to season. Migrants may be tired and hungry and should not be kept from resting or feeding. Do not deliberately flush birds. Patience is often rewarded. To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming. Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area. Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover. Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups. 

Rare breeding birds. 

If you discover the nest of a rare breeding bird, do not feel under any obligation to report your find to other birders. The location should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities. You may wish to file a report of the nest with Birds Canada’s Project NestWatch https://www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/pnw/. Avoid visiting known sites of rare breeding birds unless they can be viewed from a distance without disturbance. 

Rare birds. 

Rare migrants or vagrants are the species most sought after by birders. Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance minimized, and permission has been obtained from private landowners. Ask the landowner for a list of dos and don'ts, for example, where people may stand to get a good view and what restrictions there may be on time of day. Also ask which areas are off limit. If you decide to release the news, give precise directions and instructions, if possible including a phone number. Remember, most non-birders will be surprised by the number of visitors who wish to see a rare bird. 

Respect the rights of landowners. 

Be aware of the rules about access to Conservation Authorities, National and Provincial Parks, and Regional Authorities. Do not enter private property without the owner's explicit permission. Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of roads and public areas, both at home and abroad. Practice common courtesy in contacts with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike. 

Have proper consideration for other birders. 

Try not to disrupt other birders’ activities or scare the birds they may be watching. Be polite to other birders and helpful to beginners. Many other people enjoy the outdoors; do not interfere with their activities. If you see people obviously disturbing birds or significantly damaging habitat, explain to them the effect of their actions but be courteous, they may not be aware of the effect they are having. 

Increase our knowledge about birds.

Consider keeping notes of your sightings and sending them to area compilers. Send rare bird reports to the Secretary, Ontario Bird Records Committee. 

Bird responsibly in other countries, provinces or regions. 

Find out if there is a local code of ethics or any special rules that should be respected. 


Please follow this code. Distribute it and teach it to others. It is up to you to help promote respect toward wildlife, wildlife habitat, the environment, and other people. Thank you.