Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Web Goodies

Just a fun diversion and a new aspect of ebird to share as we hopefully all have a bit of downtime coming. First up, the Wordle above is a little web gadget that analyses a blog or news feed, and then makes a cloud diagram. It seems to be making the rounds of some of the blogs, and as there hasn't been much bird content since the weekend I thought I would give it a whirl this evening. Totally pointless, but a cool representation. I'm thinking they read the colors of the template as well to get the blues and greens for mine. Do you have a blog or webpage, might want to wordle it up to see what you have been focusing on. Thanks to Dawn and her Bloggy Blog for sharing.

On a moderately more functional topic.....there have been some great new developments over at Ebird of late. In what will hopefully be a well timed release ebird launched a beta "My Yard Lists" functionality at the beginning of the Christmas Bird Count season. In addition to birders like myself that head out into the field to count the birds in a count circle, the Audubon also encourages feeder watchers to record their counts for the day and add them to the compiled data. It is a great way to include anyone who can't or for whatever reason won't head out into the mid-winter elements to count birds. As many of you already know, sometimes the best way to find rare or secretive birds is just to bribe them with a snack. I have a couple of feeders that I try to keep stocked, but am personally not much of a yard birder. Frankly, I am just not around enough to know what is coming by, and have been lazy about monitoring with the birdcam.

Anyhow, for those who do watch for birds to come visiting your homes I highly encourage you to create a location for your yard in Ebird, and then designate that location as your yard list. The yard, or patch lists are also available, can then be viewed by other birders to see what has been recorded by you. As you can see, my yard is representing those of us who are just starting out or don't have incredible habitats, so no need to feel like your yard isn't good enough to share.

Even one yard list a month for a year from every ebirder would be an incredible data set. More specific to the birders though, it is another fun way to enjoy and share what you are seeing in the natural world.

I just read about, and started exploring this feature today, and already had a 'holy cow - that was cool' moment. Today I was using ebird to list the bird species reported so far in Hennepin County, MN this month. I pulled the list and compared it to my own, and found that there were three new species reported. I was able to see the mapped approximate locations and the name of the birder who recorded the sighting. From there I found that one of the birders had reported a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in their "Patch List", and as a result I saw a handful of reports by the same birder, for the same location this month. I could then see what other species were turning up in the same area. I exchanged quick emails with the other birder, who kindly shared even more detail about the location, and hopefully was happy to know that their local park was providing a view of the area birds to a person several states away thanks to their effort.

I doubt that this was exactly the usage the good folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology had in mind for this expansion, but I find it incredibly informative when planning to visit a location and trying to get up to speed. Another good tool along those lines are the state online bird forums or mailing list archives. Googling a city, or better a county and rare bird usually will provide a good starting point to track one down. I am spoiled by Colorado's on a daily basis, and had fun reading what has been turning up in Minnesota recently as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment