Frequently Asked Questions About Your Data

Frequently asked questions about Celebrate Urban Birds online data entry.


Why are there two species of orioles on the list?

Baltimore Oriole on feeder
photo © reddirtpics

We have participants from across the U.S. and Canada. Baltimore Orioles may be seen in the East and Bullock’s in the West.You have to select a species of Oriole EVEN if you didn't see it. If you did not see an oriole simply choose the species that is commonly seen in your area, and click 'no'. Need help? Please email us at: urbanbirds@cornell.edu or call (607) 254-2455.

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Why do I have to fill in a “no” if I didn’t see a bird?

The instructions state: "Record which birds you see in your bird-watching area, as well as the ones you didn't see." This field is required so that our researchers can interpret the data we receive to know if an answer is negative (that is, not seen, which is important because the absence of a bird can mean as much as its presence) or blank (that is, not entered because you are uncertain or forgot). This distinction will affect the results. Since we are collecting information on the birds that you did and did not see, we ask that participants select an oriole species (Baltimore or Bullock’s).

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What version of Internet do I need to use in order to complete the online data entry?

The Celebrate Urban Birds data entry web pages require either Internet Explorer 6 (or above), Firefox ( 2.0 or above) or equivalent.

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Why do I need to fill out information about habitat for every day that I observe birds?

Since we are pairing the habitat information with your results, we need to have them entered at the same time. There could have been changes to habitat, perhaps the addition or removal of water, or more or less pavement or bushes could have been chopped down or added. It is important for you to confirm the habitat because we can't know that it is still the same unless you tell us.

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I’ve already registered. Why do you need my contact information again?

The information you entered when you registered is kept in a separate system from the data in order to keep the data safe.

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I live in Canada, and my postal code doesn’t fit in your postal code field. Why?

What you need is the Canadian data form! You can download it here.

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Why should I enter data online?

Photo of location of data entry site
If you enter your data online, you will see your results applied to the map immediately. You will also save postage! However, if you would prefer to send us your paper form, then we will input the information.

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Do you still want my data if I did not see any of the focal species?

Photo of House Finch
photo © Adam Bender
Yes. Please submit your observations even if you didn't see any of the 16 species of birds specified. We must know where the birds are not as well as where they are!

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Can I do another observation in the same location?

Yes, for sure! More observations = more data = better research results! If you are entering data online you will notice that the computer will keep track of your locations, will automatically number how many you have done in each location, and will automatically fill in the habitat information for each location. You have the opportunity to change or confirm habitat information, for instance if part of the area has been paved or has an added water feature. You may see different things during different times of the day or seasons throughout the year. It's great to repeat observations over time in the same location.

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How do I get a Celebrate Urban Birds badge?

You will automatically obtain Celebrate Urban Birds badges if you enter data online and fulfill any of the following requirements:

"Zero Means a Lot" badge
-- Submit your observations even when you see none of the focal species.

"Multiple Checklists Submitted" badge
-- When you submit observations at the same birdwatching site 3, 10, 25, and 50 times, you'll receive badges.

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Help With Interactive Maps

Explore bird observations on the Google map by clicking here.

Here's how to explore data:

  • Find your exact location by zooming into the map. You can zoom into the map by double clicking on the map, scrolling with your mouse, or using the slider zoom tool on the left of the map.
  • Simply click on one of the red markers to see a graph of observations, comments, a zoomed-in map view, and photos of the birds seen.
  • Click on the larger blue "cluster" markers to see multiple birdwatch sites near each other. Each of the blue "cluster" markers has a number on it. This number indicates the number of birdwatch sites in the area. Once you click on the blue marker, a window will appear zoomed into the location. You'll be prompted to click on the blue marker again to see each of the sites (represented by the red markers). You can then click on the red markers to see the exact locations and see a graph of observations, comments, and photos.
  • If you want to explore a summary of observations by geographic area, please use the "aggregation tool." It looks like a light blue polygon and can be found towards the top of the map. Click on it once, then click on an area of the map you want to explore. This will anchor the polygon. Click on another area of the map and a dotted line will appear from your first anchor to the second. In this way mark off a city, neighborhood, region, state, or portion of the country. To complete your polygon, simply click on your last anchor. A window will appear with a summary of the total of all bird observations in that area. You can delete the polygon by clicking on the "delete this polygon" link on the polygon's data window.
  • Don't forget to explore the map by using the map, satellite, and terrain views found on the upper right corner of the map.
  • If you want expand the map on your screen, use the arrow at the top left corner of the map.
  • If you want to get a zoomed-out perspective of your location on the map, click on the arrow at the bottom right of the map. A small mini-map will appear showing you a zoomed-out view of the area you are exploring. You can also move the small square on the mini-map to take you to the area of the world you'd like to see.
  • If you want to collapse the map legend, click on the botom left arrow.
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I have a group working together to do an observation. How many data sheets should I fill out?

Fill out one data sheet per location, not per person! You will want one data sheet for every space the size of 1/2 a basketball court that you are watching. If you have everyone in the group looking for birds in that same space, fill out one observation sheet. If your group splits up into teams, make sure each team observes a different space, and fill out one data sheet per team/space.

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