Lately, I've been binge-listening to Margaret Roach's gardening podcast and was interested to hear about Cornell's Yardmapping website! Actually, the correct name is Habitat Network and it is a joint project of the Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The mapping program is called Yardmap. It holds a group of tools to help you map your property and, then, to manage your property in a manner which attracts birds, butterflies, and bees (my words, not theirs). Of course, all the information that you share with your map helps the scientists learn more about these little creatures.
Here is my map and the basic breakdown of what is there. The first few times I worked on it, the property was just listed as "home" - so very generic! I had always wanted to give our home a name but anything I came up with either sounded stuffy or just didn't ring true. So, I swiped a friend's community garden's name - because it fits here too! The first thing we hear when we go outside are the mockingbirds! And there's nothing stuffy about mockingbirds!
Back to YardMap. Here is how it works, more or less:
- The site finds your property on GoogleEarth and then you outline the property. That's the quick part. Note: I didn't say that's the easy part because the entire process is pretty easy . . . but it can be a bit time consuming, especially as you are learning.
- After you have outlined your garden, or yard, or yarden, you mark what areas are grass, buildings, pavement, dirt, native forest, water, wetlands, etc.
- The final step is that you place your individual trees, shrubs, compost bins, bird feeders, bird houses, bird baths, etc. Here you can use an INFO tab to add all sorts of details.
At this point, you start getting feedback - Habitat Network will feed pertinant articles about how you can make your property more nature-friendly. Remember the site is hosted by the Cornell Lab or Ornithology (which is a fancy-schmancy word for "birds")
This is a citizen-scientist project, where non-scientists help collect observations or data from more locations than a scientist could alone. Besides feeling good about helping out, I expect to learn a lot along the way. In fact, I have already learned quite a bit. The mapping has been a fun process and I know that it will help me make Mockingbird Farm more bird friendly. Won't you join this project?