Put Your Garden on the Map

By Susan Littlefield

Gardeners are usually bird lovers as well as plant enthusiasts. Now you can combine both these interests in a citizen science project that's designed to give you a deeper understanding of the bird habitat your garden can offer and provide helpful information to professional scientists at the same time.

YardMap, a project of the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology that is funded by the National Science Foundation Informal Science Education Program, lets individuals across the country use satellite imagery to interactively draw maps of their yards and gardens, as well as parks, farms, school yards, and favorite birding spots. Be sure to watch the video on the home page first; it will make the mapping procedure clearer. The site offers suggestions for ways to make yards and gardens more bird-friendly. Find information about types of habitats, helpful landscape features and ideas for ways to improve bird habitat in a wide range of spaces, including a brand new home, a community garden, at the office, in the city, on a road median, or in an abandoned lot.

Scientists use the information collected to help them understand things such as what practices improve the wildlife value of residential landscapes, over how large an area these practices need to be implemented to be most effective, and the impact of urban and suburban wildlife corridors and stopover habitats on bird populations. YardMap is also an interactive citizen scientist network, connecting you to a like-minded community sharing strategies and successes on-line as they work to improve bird habitat.

To find out more about YardMap and get started on a map of your own yard, go to: YardMap.

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