December 2019


Part II: The Website

Dec. 9, 2019 update:
The website is expanding while the developer constructs new apps for other non-avian genera - think snakes and turtles for starters. It's still possible for a logged-in visitor to be shown only birds, but the default remains "All Animals", in case you're reptile-phobic.

This columnist has photos of nearly 300 species of birds on his Profile page on the[1] website. It is from submissions like these that the images on the BirdsEye app (discussed in our November 2019 article[2]) are chosen, in part by the rankings given them by other contributors. Over seven hundred volunteer photographers have uploaded many thousands of often professional quality, guidebook-worthy images. This vast library of globally-sourced, location-referenced images forms the backbone of an incredible identification tool. The app provides multiple curated images of a single species, of all ages and plumages available. The website offers every photograph identified as that species which has been uploaded to its collection, frequently dozens or more. It is this wealth of opportunities for comparison and contrast which make the website's Species Search feature available at the top of every page such a powerful utility.

There's a Photographers[3] page on the site with a long list of all the contributors with their names and photo counts, and a small icon of one of their images for each photographer. This roster can be sorted either alphabetically or by number of submissions. Your reviewer comes in as #30, but the top contributor has nearly 10 times as many images, most of much higher quality. Even so, anyone's photo might be added by the administrators to those featured on the BirdsEye app, if reviewers give it a high enough rating, and it is useful for species identification. Going to an individual photographer's Profile page[4] (choosing here top contributor #4 as a semi-random example) shows all their photos arranged in a number of alternative ways. Under each image is the opportunity to rate it, suggest an ID correction or add other comments. Modifications are all moderated, and the opportunity to participate only appears to logged-in contributors.

Uploading images[5] is simple, but requires a species/variant ID, which is best checked by looking at images already shown for that particular bird. Location by country/county is also needed, as is a date, even if approximate. Contributors are able, as mentioned, to suggest corrections later, or even delete their own image. It is not a raw photo which gets submitted for inclusion, but an on-the-web crop which is accomplished with an elegant positioning and framing tool creating a useful species image in Portrait mode. stores the original file as well, and a re-crop can always be done later. Note that the website also includes some dragonfly, butterfly, bee and milkweed species, which clearly are of interest to many bird photographers. Such submissions need not detract from the overall birdy power of the site, as visitors can use the "Browse" pulldown to view only birds.

Contributors of more than 20 images can claim a free annual regional subscription to the BirdsEye app, with an option to renew annually with further submissions. Be aware that with the high volume of submissions, and the commitment to curating (by qualified volunteers) every photo offered to the collection, it may take considerable time for an uploaded image to be available for public view. However, in the meantime it will be shown at the bottom of the logged-in participant's profile page as "Pending Approval".

One further set of website resources includes the Location listings, which offer a range of choices from "World" to "Custom" regions. Choosing the Custom/W. North America[6] option brings up a familiar list of birds for this region in recent taxonomic order, giving both common and scientific names. The same page shows the number of photos for each species in the collection (only one species in this region is lacking an image), the number of photos of it currently in the BirdsEye app, the number of gender, age, and plumage variants, and the average rating of the submissions for each. Pick a bird with lots of photos such as Wood Duck[7] and be amazed at the skill, commitment, and generosity of your fellow birders (and the creators of the website), for what they are giving to you free and purely for the furtherance of our shared interest. Hopefully, you'll be moved to contribute. Find that missing Cassia Crossbill! It was just given species status in 2017, and a cell phone photo will do.

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article on the beginning of each month.

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