Bird watching and backyards have always gone together—many
of the questions we answer each day at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
concern how people can best attract birds to their yards.
Now, a new citizen-science project called YardMap helps you get the
most from your yard, all while helping scientists collect data about
how gardening practices affect birds.
YardMap works by giving participants tools to plan their yards, and
by creating a community of gardeners with whom you can share ideas
and advice. It’s easy to use—if you’ve ever used Google to look at a satellite
image of your house, you’re well on your way to mapping your yard.
You start with a birds-eye view of your house and use our simple,
point-and-click mapping tools to draw in ecological details. Your site
is automatically linked to our eBird project so that you can enter your
bird sightings at will—create a yard list, keep track of spring arrivals
and fall departures, or any other memorable visits by birds.
YardMap helps us learn about how Americans manage one of the
most familiar and most extensive habitats on the continent. The average
yard consists of lawn, hedge, flowerbeds, and driveways (see sidebar
on right)—but we need to know about yards in a lot more detail
than that. And by pairing habitat information with bird sightings, we
can learn about the effects of different gardening practices at a much
larger scale. But first we need help from the experts—you.
From the very smallest inhabitants to the grandest of trees, your yard
has a role to play in helping to establish safe bird habitat.
We hope you'll join us at www.yardmap.org