The Kenya Bird Map

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The Kenya Bird Map (http://kenyabirdmap.adu.org.za) is an internet-based bird database that employs citizen science to map where all the bird species in Kenya live and describe their distribution in real time. The project is a follow-up of the work by Adrian Lewis and Derek Pomeroy almost 30 years ago, whose book, A Bird Atlas of Kenya, provided a ‘snapshot’ of the distribution of birds in Kenya. However, the distribution of birds in Kenya has changed since then, primarily because of habitat destruction and climate change among other factors, but it is not known to what extent. By pooling the effort of many citizen scientist birders, Kenya Bird Map will tell this story and in so doing provide a powerful tool for conservation.

How to Participate

You will need to register as an Observer and get an Observer Number to submit your bird records to the database. To do so, send your details (full name, telephone number, County of residence, postal address and email) to Kenyabirdmap@naturekenya.org .

How to Collect Data

For the Bird Map, Kenya is divided into grid squares of 5 minutes longitude by 5 minutes latitude, called pentads. Each pentad is about 9 km by 9 km. (Penta is a combining form of 5, as in pentagon.) To collect your data, identify which pentad you are going birding in, and its boundaries.  This is quite simple as the Kenya Bird Map system links you to Google Maps identifying the pentad code of your location. This makes it easy to find your pentad. For identifying the pentad boundaries while on the ground, you can identify some landmarks to guide you.

Once you have identified your pentad and have all necessary equipment – binoculars, GPS (optional), bird guidebooks, data sheets or notebooks – you are good to go. You can record and submit your observations in two ways: as ad hoc records or as a field card following the Kenya Bird Map protocol.

  1. Ad hoc records:

This is where you are unable to spend two full hours birding in the pentad but can make a useful list of species while visiting an area. List the birds in the order in which you see or hear them. Keep track of the hours you spend compiling the list. Then indicate the list as an ad hoc list when uploading it on the website.

  1. Standard Protocol (survey for two hours or more)

The standard protocol to be observed when collecting your data follows:

  • Spend at least two (2) hours observing and recording birds in the pentad. List all the bird species observed. This is known as the initial intensive survey. This survey will help get a fairly comprehensive bird list for each pentad.
  • Record the species in the order that you see and/or hear them. This will help us gauge which are likely to be the more common species in the pentad. Make a note of the end of each hour during your initial intensive survey. This helps us work out which birds are detected earlier than others.
  • You can continue the survey period in one pentad for up to five (5) days. The initial intensive survey should, where possible, take place on day 1 of the five days. You can then add any new species (in the order that you see/ hear them) to the list after the initial survey, until the end of the fifth day. A new survey or checklist should only be started after the end of the five-day period for each pentad (i.e. on day six).

How to Submit Data

Once you have completed your field survey you will need to submit your bird records to the Kenya Bird map. You can do this in various ways:-

  1. Send in your data sheet (soft copy word document or scanned copy) to Kenyabirdmap@naturekenya.org .
  2. Post a hard copy of your complete data sheet to: Kenya Bird Map, Nature Kenya, P.O. Box 44486-00100, Nairobi.
  3. Upload the data directly to the website http://kenyabirdmap.adu.org.za. (Remember, you need to register and log in to the KBMP website to do this.) When you are logged in, follow these steps:
  • Click on 'Add a Card/ Field Sheet'
  • Search for the pentad code by opening the Google map through clicking the blue icon to find the pentad you surveyed
  • Indicate if you surveyed at night. Don’t click on the small box if you did not survey during the night
  • Click on the small box if you covered all the habitats in the pentad for this survey, or leave it blank if you did not cover all habitats
  • Fill in the total number of species seen after each hour of observation up to a maximum of 10 hours. Remember, this is a cumulative total over the number of hours observed and not a new species total for each hour. Therefore, for hour 2 indicate the total of the birds seen in hour 1 and hour 2 (e.g. say you saw 7 birds in hour 1 and 5 new birds in hour 2, the figure for hour 1 should be 7 and that of hour 2 should be 12)
  • Indicate the total number of hours you spent observing
  • Write down the total number of species you recorded during the time you observed in the pentad
  • Indicate if you did a full protocol (survey for 2 hours or more) or Ad hoc protocol (survey for less than 2 hours) by clicking on the drop-down icon at the bottom of the page
  • Now Save your card and proceed to Add species.
  • Search for the species name on the search-tab provided and select/highlight it from the list of outcomes. Once selected/highlighted, click the blue “add (+)” button to add the bird to your list. Add all species in order of sighting. Remember that you can save this and return to it later for additions or editing before submitting the final list. If you can’t find the usual name of the bird you saw, consult the Checklist of the Birds of Kenya, 4th Edition, 2009, available at Nature Kenya.
  • Once you are satisfied that you have entered all data correctly, you can submit your card!

Kenya Bird Map is a project of the Bird Committee, spearheaded by National Museums of Kenya, Nature Kenya, A Rocha Kenya and the Tropical Biology Association with support from the Animal Demography Unit of the University of Cape Town. It has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme and the Natural History Museum of Denmark.