Put Yourself, and Your Yard, on the Map

April 1, 2012
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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.

Originally published in the April 2012 issue of BirdScope.

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