See your lawn through a bird’s eyes with YardMap

Web tool lets you map outdoor spaces as wildlife habitat

MOCK UP  A new web tool lets you map your outdoor spaces and wildlife habitat, helping scientists understand how birds use urban and suburban spaces.


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Wild animals, especially birds, aren’t confined to wild spaces. They creep into backyards, hop through parks and crawl through any bit of green space they can find. Scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology would like to know more about those not-so-wild spaces so that they can learn how bird species use the full range of habitats in North America.

Their new citizen-science project, a website called YardMap, lets people quickly and easily make free maps of verdant places such as their home or a local cemetery, marking out lawns, trees and other landscape features over a satellite view. Researchers use map data matched with bird sightings, which can be submitted using the eBird tool on the site, to study the impact of backyards on migrating birds as they crisscross North America. Tools on the YardMap website help users learn more about how planting practices can attract more birds and other wildlife.

MAP THAT YARD  See how you can map your yard, or any other green space, to help scientists track bird habitat and to learn how to make your spaces more wildlife-friendly. Credit: YardMap/YouTube

Sarah Zielinski is the Editor, Print at Science News Explores. She has a B.A. in biology from Cornell University and an M.A. in journalism from New York University. She writes about ecology, plants and animals.

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