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Help develop a Bird ID tool!
Downloadable Artwork

Put Yourself on the Map

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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

Build a Birdhouse
Build a Birdhouse

Get a Full-Size Poster

Download this poster and put it on your wall—free. Choose your size:

  • Letter size: this version (485 KB) prints on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper (570 KB)
  • Tabloid size: this file (813 KB) prints at 11x17 inches.
  • Full size: this file (1.6 MB) prints at the full 22x17 inch size (you will need to print it on multiple sheets of paper).

The Average American Yard

The average yard in North America is not huge—about a third of an acre. But those little patches of home contribute to about 160 million acres in total residential land area. It would take one person 4,110 years to mow all the lawn in the United States. What we each do to maintain our land can make a real ecological difference. So we crunched the numbers (from 21 scientific studies and government reports) to develop this aggregate picture of an American yard: It turns out most of us have homes that are about 60 percent lawn and 20 percent house and driveway, with just 20 percent left over for bird habitat. We water our lawns with about 60 gallons of water a day. About one-eighth of all material that goes into our landfills is yard waste that could be composted or otherwise used at home.

We created YardMap to develop better ways for people to see and understand these big patterns—and to create a community of gardeners and bird watchers.