Izembek Lagoon Waterfowl


This dataset contains 9,267 high-resolution (8688×5792) aerial images from Izembek Lagoon in Alaska, collected to survey waterfowl. The dataset includes 521,270 bounding boxes on waterfowl, with each box identified as one of:

  • Brant (424,790 boxes)
  • Canada goose (47,561 boxes)
  • Gull (5,631 boxes)
  • Emperor goose (2,013 boxes)
  • Other (5,631 boxes)

All were originally annotated as points, and were converted to boxes as a convenience for detector training. Consequently, the boxes are all identical in size, centered on the original annotation points and sized to the typical size of birds in these images. Approximately half of the images (4,281) are annotated as empty.

This dataset is a subset of the Aerial Photo Imagery from Fall Waterfowl Surveys dataset; all non-empty images from the original dataset are included, but only a small fraction of the empty images are included. The original dataset is the dataset of record; the present dataset is provided as a convenience for training AI models, as (a) some effort was required to convert the annotations to a standard format (import code), and (b) the original dataset is quite large (1.82TB). Because the proportion of empty images has been dramatically reduced in the present dataset, models trained on the subset should be evaluated against the original dataset before making claims about precision and recall as they would apply in a real-world setting.


If you use this dataset, please cite the original dataset:

Weiser EL, Flint PL, Marks DK, Shults BS, Wilson HM, Thompson SJ, Fischer JB, 2022, Aerial photo imagery from fall waterfowl surveys, Izembek Lagoon, Alaska, 2017-2019: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/P9UHP1LE.

Data format

Annotations are provided in COCO Camera Traps format.

Downloading the data

Metadata is available here.

Images are available as a single zipfile:

Images are also available (unzipped) in the following cloud storage folders:

  • gs://public-datasets-lila/izembek-lagoon-birds/images (GCP)
  • s3://us-west-2.opendata.source.coop/agentmorris/lila-wildlife/izembek-lagoon-birds/images (AWS)
  • https://lilawildlife.blob.core.windows.net/lila-wildlife/izembek-lagoon-birds/images (Azure)

We recommend downloading images (the whole folder, or a subset of the folder) using gsutil (for GCP), aws s3 (for AWS), or AzCopy (for Azure). For more information about using gsutil, aws s3, or AzCopy, check out our guidelines for accessing images without using giant zipfiles.

If you prefer to download images via http, you can. For example, one image (with lots of birds) appears in the metadata as:


This image can be downloaded directly from any of the following URLs (one for each cloud):

Having trouble downloading? Check out our FAQ.

Posted by Dan Morris.