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Tag Explanations

  • Apiary bee source

    Honey bees are non-native, originating from Europe and likely brought to the United States during colonial times. Usually bees that are acclimatized to your region are more likely to be successful in your ecoregion as they are more like to be adapted to moisture levels, temperature, bloom-time, and seasonal changes. Tell us where your bees originate from.

  • Apiary bee type

    Different bees species have different personality, behavior, and sometimes production qualities. Tell us what types of bees you have chosen for your hives. And, feel free to share your rational in the comments section.

  • Apiary honey

    Harvest quantities vary by apiary, season, health of bees, size of the frames, etc. Provide an estimate of how many pounds productive your hives are.

  • Apiary management

    Honey bees are threatened by a variety of issues from varroa mites, to fungal infections, exposure to some pesticides, etc. Managing our hives to maximize the health and productivity of the bees is essential. Tell use what kind of strategies you use, do you: use synthetic chemicals and antibiotics, use IPM minimizing synthetic chemicals and antibiotics, use IPM with no synthetic chemicals or antibiotics.

  • Apiary pollination

    Honey bees are fantastic pollinators of crops that evolved in concert with them, namely crops whose origins are from Europe, where honey bees are native. Tell us if your bees are actively used for pollinating orchards, farmland, or other large areas requiring large pollination loads.

  • Apiary size

    Apiaries can range in size from one hive to thousands. Many beekeeping companies recommend managing at least two hives. This provides the ability to observe two systems and compare them while providing a back-up in case one hive struggles in a season.Tell us how many hives you are actively managing.

  • Bat house active

    Your geographical location can determine the when bats are most active. Different species of bats enter and emerge from hibernation at different times of the year depending on climate and availability of food and other resources. Female bats roost in maternity colonies and begin to disband in the late summer or early fall, abandoning the roosting site until the following year. Letting us know when your bat house is active will help scientists understand the patterns and habits of the 1,300+ species present in the world.

  • Bat house color

    The temperature of your bat house can greatly affect whether or not bats will take up residency. Since the color you paint the roost affects the amount of light and heat it absorbs, you can influence the box’s internal temperature with the color you paint it. Color recommendations for bat houses are based on average daily high temperatures in July. Bat houses in northern and high-altitude climates with average temps below 85F degrees should be black to dark paint. From the South through the Midwest and the high deserts of the West, with around 85F-95F degree average highs, bat houses should be dark to medium shades of color. From 95F- 100F degrees, use medium to light shades of color and with average highs of 100F degrees plus, such as in the Southwest, bat houses should be painted white.

  • Bat house direction

    The temperature of your bat house greatly affects whether or not bats will take up residency and the placement of your bat house will play a major role in the internal temperature. Bat houses in colder climates should be mounted in an area that gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight (facing either East or South). Those in warmer climates may be better off facing north or west to avoid being too hot.

  • Bat house height

    Bat houses can be mounted on wooden posts, steel poles, pivot poles, or on the sides of buildings, but should not be mounted on trees. Typically, bat houses should be mounted at least 15 feet above the ground –the higher the house the greater the chance of attracting bats. The height of the bat house can help bats discover the new roost. Giving us the height of your bat box can help us understand the habitat needs of the many different species of bats.

  • Bat house size

    Bat houses, whether built or bought, generally have between one to five chambers built into them. Larger bat maternity houses can contain up to ten or more. The more chambers in your bat house the more bats that can occupy it. The number of roosting chambers is not critical, but in general, the more chambers the better. Single-chambered houses should be mounted on wooden or masonry buildings, which helps to buffer temperature fluctuations. Houses with at least three chambers are more likely to provide an appropriate temperature range and will be more likely to house larger nursery colonies.

  • Bee hole type

    There are a number of materials and set-ups that can mimic the natural environment native solitary bees use for nesting. Some are more attractive to certain species of bees than others. How well the material holds up to the elements and protects the inhabitant can play a crucial role in the survival of the next generation of mason bees. Paper tubes can be ruined by wet weather but are easier to monitor and replace while drilled blocks are stronger but can promote disease and are not recommended for reuse. Bamboo and other hollow reeds are prefered but not always easy to acquire. Let us know how you prepare your bee house. If you aren’t sure which kind you have use these images to help you figure it out: paper tubes, reeds, wood trays, drilled wood, and bamboo. Learn more.

  • Bee Nesting Season

    Depending on the species, solitary nesting bees will use nesting sites at specific times of the year. Mason bees are early nesters, usually filling up the tubes you’ve provided by the end of spring. Leafcutter bees need several weeks in their cocoon with temperatures in the mid 80’s to fully mature into adults before they hatch and begin nesting generally in the early summer. Letting us know when you have nesting bees helps to identify the type of pollinator you are promoting. Learn more.

  • Bird Feeder Type

    Telling us about your feeders lets other people see the neat things you are up to on your site and helps us at the Lab of Ornithology understand more about how you are feeding birds.

  • Bird Food Provided

    Telling us about your feeders lets other people see the neat things you are up to on your site and gives us insight into what birds you might expect to attract. For more information about kinds of food you can provide, check-out this Project FeederWatch resource.

  • Birdbath Escape Route

    Birds are not the only animals that use birdbaths. Bees, butterflies, and other flying insects often find themselves attracted to birdbaths. This is especially true in areas where water is scarce. To help protect those smaller animals from drowning, place rocks or sticks in the shallow birdbath to help them escape if they find themselves in too deep.

  • Birdbath Location

    Is your birdbath sitting low to the ground? Or is it raised up, for instance, on a pedestal? This detail might impact predation rates.

  • Birdbath Movement

    Wildlife, especially birds, love the sound of moving water. Adding a commercial fountain or drip feature to your birdbath will add great appeal to your visitors. You can also empty an old plastic gallon container, punch a small hole in the bottom and hang it above the birdbath so that water slowly drips throughout the day.

  • Birdbath use

    Is your birdbath in use year round? In cold places this might mean the birdbath is heated to prevent freezing. Learn more.

  • Building Type

    Setting your building type helps us understand more about the place you are mapping. It also lets you share with other interested Habitat Network members the details of your yard so they can better learn from your successes.

  • Catio cat number

    Catios are an excellent alternative to having an outdoor cat by providing an indoor cat access to the outdoors. Tell us how many lucky kitties use your catio.

  • Cats

    It has been suggested that cats’ hunting of songbirds has a significant impact on bird populations open_in_new. Given that there is insufficient evidence to draw conclusive recommendations about the impact of cats on bird populations we hope to use Habitat Network to learn more. Telling us about the cats in your yard, or on your farm helps us collect much needed data.

  • Compost container

    Choosing a compost system is a personal decision based on the size and location of the compost. Tumblers and plastic or rotating containers are generally enclosed. These systems are helpful in areas where neighbors might prefer not to see composting in action or places where animals might easily be lured-in by the smell. Wire or mesh systems allow for a nice lasagna layering system while providing ideal ventilation with limited time and resource investment. Or, perhaps you’ve spent more time creating a system using brick, stone or wooden materials. All composting systems can work if they are properly maintained and the right ratio of kitchen scraps, green plant cuttings, and dry “brown” stuff is added. Learn more.

  • Compost Type

    Some people create compost piles exclusively for their yard waste, while others compost their kitchen scraps. Check out our article about compost as habitat to learn more.

  • Cover board attracting

    Cover boards are often used by herpetologists, scientists who study reptiles and amphibians, to attract, monitor, and collect important data. Tell us what kind of wildlife you are attracting with your cover board. Learn more about cover boards, about cover boards specific to amphibians, or cover boards specific to reptiles.

  • Cover board material

    Amphibians, with their breathable skin, require cover boards that retain moisture, such as wood. Reptiles, on the other hand, prefer drier, warmer areas, like those offered by a metal cover board. Metal is, of course, not advised for areas that experience extreme solar gain, such as in deserts. Instead, logs or rock piles are recommend for these areas as cover for reptiles. Learn more about cover boards, about cover boards specific to amphibians, or cover boards specific to reptiles.

  • Cover Thickness

    The presence of woody plants, even in urban parcels, has been shown to increase breeding bird diversity and nesting successopen_in_new. The density of shrubby landcover is an important landscape ecology measurement as it varies considerably across landscapes Some areas are fairly thin, covering only 10% of the ground with vegetation, while in other areas are extremely thick, covering 100% of the area with dense vegetation. The percentage of that vegetative cover can affect breeding successopen_in_new.

    A quick rule of thumb for estimating shrub cover is to imagine walking through the area. If you can easily walk without touching any vegetation, cover is probably less than 50%. If you have to weave around plants and often come into contact with them as you move through the space the cover is probably about 75%, and if you can’t image walking through without a machete then 100% is a good estimate. Use the satellite imagery in YardMap and the diagrams below as a reference point for your estimate. For some, it helps to mentally divide up your shrubby area into a pie chart with 4 slices. Try to quantify how much of the pie would be covered by shrubs if you placed it over your shrub patch.

    Estimating shrub cover for smaller lots

    Using this method, the landowner can divide the shrubland into quadrants to help estimate how much of the "pie" is covered in shrubs. These yellow circles have a diameter = 100 ft.

    Photo © YardMap

    Estimating shrub cover for larger parcels

    Using this method, the landowner can divide the shrubland into quadrants to help estimate how much of the "pie" is covered in shrubs. These yellow circles have a diameter = 500 ft.

    Photo © YardMap

  • Crop

    The type of crops grown on a farm contribute significantly to its structural variation. For instance, a monoculture of soy bean is very different from a mixed orchard/ vegetable plot, and we would expect to see very different kinds of insects, birds, mammals, and microbes taking advantage of the crops.

  • Farm Product

    The kind of product a farm produces impacts land-use dramatically. By letting us know what you grow and/or raise, we can better understand how different kinds of farms support birds.

  • Farm Type

    Whether or not a farm is commercial tells about the intensity of farming occurring on the Site. Commercial farms are those where the farmer is raising products for sale as a primary means of occupation.

  • Feeder Cleaning

    Feeders have the potential to harbor deadly and debilitating viruses and bacteria because many birds visit them, making them excellent locations for the transmission of disease. You can minimize the risk of infecting birds by cleaning your feeders thoroughly with warm water and soap.

  • Fertilizer

    Synthetic fertilizers impact soil health by decreasing the diversity of soil microbes availableopen_in_new. Healthy soils are the foundation of a balanced backyard or farmopen_in_new. Insects, reptiles, snails, and slugs rely on soils to provide food. Birds, in turn, eat insects, reptiles, snails, and slugs. For information about alternatives to synthetic (or “inorganic”) fertilizers, check out this Audubon Guide.

  • Food Sources

    Non-woody plants can provide food for birds and other wildlife via seeds, nectar, or fruits.

  • Forest Age

    Different birds prefer different kinds of forest. For instance, Golden-winged Warblers prefer disturbed, early-successional forests, while Scarlet Tanagers prefer mature forests.

  • Forest Type

    The kind of tree that dominates your forested area tells us a lot about the kind of birds, plants, and other wildlife you might expect to find there. Deciduous forests are those where the dominant trees lose their leaves for part of each year (either because of cold or drought), while evergreen forests are dominated by trees that keep their leaves year-round. You can also have mixed forests, where there are both deciduous and evergreen trees.

  • Geothermal type

    Tell us how your geothermal system is working for you. Do you use your system for cooling in the warmer months, or heating in the cooler months? Does the system provide general electricity to your home?

  • Grass Clippings

    Leaving the clippings from lawn mowing helps to return the nutrients in the clipped grass back to the soil. It’s a green trend that’s catching on all over the world: Grasscycling!

  • Grazing

    Whether or not there are livestock grazing a grassland or shrubby area impacts its ecological makeup by altering the composition and growth patterns of the plants found there. North American farmers have become de facto managers of grassland bird habitat. Because many grassland birds, such as the Bobolink, Dickcissel, and Eastern and Western Meadowlark prefer mid-range to high vegetation and soil moisture, grazing intensities and vegetation densities can impact habitat and nesting conditionsopen_in_new. For more information about using grazing for management of range and grasslands, see our grasslands article.

  • Green Roof

    Also known as “living roofs”, a green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. If you have a green roof, tell us what percentage of your roof it covers. It has been shown that green roofs contribute to site biodiversity in urban settingsopen_in_new. Additionally, green roofs may play a role in creating habitat for birds. Green roofs also help to insulate the buildings they are built on, resulting in lower heating and cooling costsopen_in_new.

  • Ground Type

    The kind of ground, be it sand, rock, dirt, mud or mulch is an important indicator of the kinds of plants that might grow, or the potential uses of the area. For instance, several solitary bee species collect mud for their nests, which can be a limiting factor in their reproduction.

  • Harvest bee cocoons

    Harvesting cocoons in the fall helps protect the pupae inside from predation, parasitism, and, often, the harsh effects of the elements. By harvesting cocoons, incubating, and setting them out the next spring you ensure a larger proportion of young will survive to help pollinate your gardens every year. We are curious to know how many will go to this effort and how well it works to produce increased offspring year to year. Read more about bee houses.

  • Hay Harvest

    Many species of birds, such as Dickcissels, meadowlarks, and Grasshopper Sparrows, use fields as nest sites. These birds often lose their clutches to the hay harvesting that occurs in most fields between May and August. Some research has shown that birds attempting to nest in hay fields experience drastic nest failure due to mowingopen_in_new. Delaying your harvest could help more birds successfully nest.

  • Herbicides

    Herbicides impact bird populations by decreasing plant diversity. Many birds (insects, reptiles, and mammals, too) are specialists rather than generalists; that is, they specialize in eating just a few kinds of plants or animals. When you apply herbicides, you may inadvertently decrease the diversity of birds in your yard by decreasing the diversity of plants. Additionally, herbicides have other ecological effects: impacting amphibian populations significantlyopen_in_new, posing direct health risks to humansopen_in_new, and increasing the carbon footprint of a garden or cropopen_in_new. For information about alternatives to synthetic herbicides, check out this Audubon Guide.

  • Hibernaculum Construction

    Animals use a variety of natural occurring hibernaculum in the wild from old burrows and dens to rock piles and caves. If you have built your own, we want to know you are putting forth this effort and if it’s successfully attracting wildlife. Learn more.

  • Hibernaculum type

    The number and types of hibernacula dispersed across the landscape can help ecologists and researchers better understand habitat requirements of the species that use them and can help conservationists and managers plan for necessary improvements to habitat.

  • Important Bird Areas (IBAs)

    Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are formally designated by BirdLife International. They are key sites for conservation – small enough to be conserved in their entirety and often already part of a protected-area network. They do one (or more) of three things:

    1. Hold significant numbers of one or more globally threatened species
    2. Are one of a set of sites that together hold a suite of restricted-range species or biome-restricted species
    3. Have exceptionally large numbers of migratory or congregatory species

    More information about IBAs, or to find local IBAs

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

    Insects are very important food sources for birds. Practices that minimize pesticide use may mean a greater diversity of insects on and around farmsopen_in_new. Farmers pursuing or holding organic certification already practice IPM, while other farmers may elect to integrate IPM into their farming practices to increase the sustainability of their farms and decrease reliance on pesticides. To get started in IPM, visit the EPA.

  • Irrigation

    Habitat Network is interested in general low-impact landuse practices. Creating plantings that don’t need irrigation is a goal of many native plant gardeners.

  • Leaf Litter

    Leaf litter plays many important ecological roles. Leaving leaves to decompose replenishes soil by releasing carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other inorganic compounds. If you have leaves on your property, let us know how you manage them by telling us if you leave them loose on-site, gather and compost them, or gather and send them off-site. If you don’t have leaves falling at the place you’ve mapped, you can choose “no leaves.” Read more: Leaf Litter

  • Leaf Retention

    An evergreen tree is one which retains its leaves (often needles, but not always) year round. This contrasts with decidous trees, who lose their leaves or needles during cold or dry seasons. There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs. Evergreens include:

    • most species of conifers (e.g., hemlock, blue spruce, red cedar, and white/scots/jack pine)
    • live oak, holly, and “ancient” gymnosperms such as cycads
    • most angiosperms from frost-free climates, such as eucalypts and rainforest trees
  • Leaf Type

    Most coniferous trees have needle-shaped leaves, while broad-leafed trees have wide, flat leaves. Knowing which kind of leaf your tree has can let others help ID your tree and help us at the Cornell Lab understand more about how birds are using your landscape.

  • Living vs. Dead Brushpiles

    While a dead brush bile is by far the most common kind of brush-pile found around YardMapper’s sites, some people choose to create living brush-piles by slicing halfway through lower branches on a conifer to create a living teepee of brush in which birds can take cover. To learn more, check out our article on Brush Piles.

  • Monitor cover board

    Checking our habitat features for wildlife is fun and allows citizen scientists to recognize their impact in real-time. If you check your cover board for reptiles or amphibians, let us know. If we hook-up with other projects that offer monitoring protocols in the future this will be a helpful way for us to reach out to those in our community already actively monitoring. Learn more about cover boards, about cover boards specific to amphibians, or cover boards specific to reptiles.

  • Mower Type

    The kind of mower you use makes a big difference in the amount of emissions given off during a typical mowing. Did you know 800 million gallons of gas go to lawn mowing each year? That one hour of cutting grass is equal to a 100-mile automobile ride? Really. That’s because, until recently, lawn mowers were excluded from EPA regulations for emissions standards. Reel mowers, the kind you push without a motor, are a healthy alternative, as are electric mowers if you’ve got a bigger space to mow.

  • Native Plants

    There is growing evidence that native vegetation supports up to 8 times the “bird food” (caterpillars) that non-native vegetation supportsopen_in_new. Additionally, natives generally require less water, fertilizer, and attention to thrive–all attributes that make them a lower-impact choice than non-natives.

  • Natives Management

    There exists extensive controversy about the role of natives and non-natives in different wild ecosystems. Some research claims that the presence of non-native species reduces the overall biodiversity of an ecosystemopen_in_new, while others claim that non-natives do not contribute to decreases in biodiversity, and may, in fact be simply temporary members of a plant/ animal community, or a sign of normally changing ecosystemsopen_in_new. Methods for managing for natives vary from habitat to habitat, but in general include removing invasives, and providing a source of native seeds. Managing for natives can be very complex, time-consuming, slow, and expensive, or it could simply mean that when given a choice, you favor preserving or introducing a native into your habitat. If you own large tracts of forest, wetland, grassland, or shrubland, it might make sense to take the time to put together a formal plan for managing natives in your area. For help getting started on a management plan visit Forest*A*Syst.

  • Office Type

    Whether a site is industrial, commercial, or corporate impacts soil conditions and constrains vegetationopen_in_new. It also gives us insight into bird-friendly business campuses.

  • Organic Certification

    Some research has been conducted with Florida farmers indicating that organic farmers have different attitudes towards birds on their farms than conventional farmersopen_in_new. The US government requires organic farmers to protect biodiversity (Wild Farm Alliance). Avian reproductive success typically appears to be higher on organic and other reduced-impact (e.g., organically managed, sustainable) farms than on conventional farmsopen_in_new.

  • Other Site Type

    Not everything that could be mapped in YardMap has its own Site-type, so if you map a cemetery (known for good birds), or airport, use this category. Marking your site-type helps us keep track of what kinds of places are being mapped in YardMap. If enough cemeteries or airports get mapped, we might decide to make it an official site-type.

  • Pavement Permeability

    Permeable pavement is an alternative to traditional asphalt or concrete surfaces because it allows stormwater to drain through the porous surface. Porous paving systems can keep nearby trees and plants healthier by diverting salt and pollutants carried in water from the storm sewer by allowing it to infiltrateopen_in_new. This recharges local groundwater, and minimizes flooding. The EPA named pervious pavements as a Best Management Practice for stormwater pollution prevention because they allow fluids to percolate into the soil. Pervious pavements also allow trees and shrubs to thrive in largely paved areas because water can find its way to their roots.

  • Pavement Type

    Setting your pavement type helps us understand more about the place you are mapping. For instance, concrete might not be porous, but gravel is–tell us something about the role this space plays at your site

  • Pesticides

    Pesticides impact birds’ ability to reproduce in several ways. Most obviously are the impacts of some pesticides on eggs (e.g. DDT on Bald Eagle and Osprey eggsopen_in_new). Less obvious are the impacts pesticides have on bird food populations. Many birds feed insects to their young; pesticide use decreases the number of insects available to those birds. Additionally, pesticides have other ecological effects: impacting amphibian populations significantlyopen_in_newopen_in_new, posing direct health risks to humansopen_in_new, and increasing the carbon footprint of a garden, or cropopen_in_new. For information about alternatives to synthetic pesticides (synthetic refers to chemical pesticides, including organophosphates, carbamates, organochlorines, and pyrethroids), please see this handy Audubon Guide.

  • Plant Persistance (Annual vs. Perennial)

    Annual plants are those that grow each year from seed; they do not retain living roots, tubers, or rhizomes that send up a new shoot in subsequent years. Perennial plants are those that return year after year (although not indefinitely). This can be an important distinction for birds because annual plants typically produce a lot more seed than perennials. This is how they help to ensure their survival from one year to the next.

  • Pollinator Garden

    Is this area specifically conceived of as a pollinator garden? Are you trying to ensure pollinators have a source of pollen through-out the growing season and that they are safe from the impacts of pesticides and herbicides? If so, then tell us this is a pollinator garden. Read more: Pollinator Gardening.

  • Population Density

    Whether a property is considered urban, suburban, or rural impacts the ecosystem open_in_new. Habitat Network collects this information from you because the population density impacts the ecology of a site in many ways. If you need help determining if the location of your site is urban, rural, or suburban, check out the recommendations in Marzluff et al 2001: they define wildland as percent built 0-2%, and residential human density as <1/ha, Rural as 5-20% built, and residential human density 1-10/ha, Suburban as 30-50% built, and residential human density >10/ha, and Urban as <50 percent built, residential human density as >10/ha.

  • Preserve Type

    Knowing the type of preserve helps Cornell know more about the kinds of oversight in place on the preserve. For instance, our home, Sapsucker Woods, has an entirely different set of rules guiding conduct than the National Wildlife Refuge down the road.

  • Property Affiliation

    Your relationship to a site you map is important for understanding your potential to manage the landscape at that location. For instance, someone renting or just visiting a site has much less control over changes to that property than someone who owns it.

  • Rain Barrel Irrigation

    What percentage of your irrigation needs are met with water collected in a rain barrel?

  • Rain Barrel Type

    A rain barrel is a catchment system of storm water usually for a residential or small building structure to harvest the rainwater from the roof for use in irrigating the garden, washing cars, filling bird baths or cleaning gardening tools. They are typically under 500 gallons in size and located above ground. Cisterns perform similarly to rain barrels but are larger in size >500 gallons and used for industry or larger structures. They can be above or below ground systems. Let us know how you are collecting rain water on your property and to learn more about rain barrels read our article.

  • Roof Color

    In places where air conditioners are in use for a significant portion of the year painting the roof white could substantially decrease the amount of energy needed to cool the houseopen_in_new. Since birds are potentially negatively impacted by a changing climate, a white roof is a small step you can take to keep your emissions lower. In some Mediterranean countries, entire towns have their roofs painted white!

  • Runoff Source

    Where does the water that ends up in your stormwater management feature come from? A roof? The driveway? The lawn? The water that is collected in rain gardens and bioswales contains contaminants and speed from the impervious surface that collects the water. Water draining from a roof has different contaminants and more speed than water draining from a lawn. Knowing the water that is entering your garden or rain barrel can help you make informed decisions on the size and type of runoff management needed.

  • Runoff Source Size

    Just like knowing the source of the water you are capturing in your garden or rain barrel, its important to know the area of land or building surface feeding into your garden or rain barrel. Knowing approximately the amount of water feeding into your garden or rain barrel during a rain event will help you make informed decision on the size and depth of the garden or barrel as well as help scientist track the amount of rain water absorbed in neighborhoods and communities around the city or town to make decision on how stormwater is managed.

  • School Type

    The kind of school being mapped suggests a lot about appropriate habitat recommendations. This also allows people across the country to find examples of schools like theirs to act as inspirations for their own habitat investments.

  • Shoreline

    The places where land meets water can look and function very differently depending on how they are managed. People often tidy shore zones, especially those used for recreation or in residential areas. This tidying may involve removal of debris, or terrestrial or aquatic vegetation and the hardening-off of shorelines. This characteristic allows you to report how the shoreline of any water-type polygon is managed. Is it left wild (plants grow on-shore and in the water? Debris is left? Edges are natural, not hardened off?), it is managed for wildlife? (invasives are removed? Specific things are planted? Debris managed to promote aquatic life?). Or, is it manicured? (mowed? reinforced? Well-defined edge?) Read more: Shorelines.

  • Snag Cavities

    One of the most important features a snag provides are cavities for nesting. Primary cavity nesters, like woodpeckers and sapsuckers, drill into snags searching for insects. These holes provide an open invitation to secondary cavity nesters that will complete the task of turning the holes into nesting areas. Over 80 species of North American birds use snags for cavity nesting, not to mention small mammals such as squirrels and bats.

  • Stormwater Type

    Rain gardens, bioswales and bioretention cells are special gardens designed specifically to capture and naturally absorb water during rain events. These types of gardens are specifically installed with the intention of reducing pollution and retaining storm water on the property. Tell us what kind of feature you’ve installed. Rain garden: includes simple, compost-amended native soils or designed soil mixes, in a shallow depression in the landscape located to intercept storm water runoff and hold it so that it has the chance to soak in. Usually have a simple inflow where rainwater enters the garden, and an above-ground overflow where excess water exits. Rain gardens do not require complex modeling. Bioretention cells: are larger, engineered areas designed to treat and infiltrate a specific amount of stormwater, often on commercial properties or on public right of ways. They have exact design criteria to ensure they function according to the design intent. They often include designed soil mixes and control structures like under-drains. Bioswale: Not level, designed to intercept and move runoff from one location to another down a slope.Check out our article on Rain gardens to learn more.

  • Structural Diversity

    A structurally diverse habitat, one with tall, mid-level, and low-growing plants, provides birds with more cover for nesting and foraging than does habitat where everything is the same height. It also might encourage greater bird diversityopen_in_new, by providing a wider possible number of ecological niches.

  • Sustainable Energy Use

    What percentage of your home energy needs are met with electricity generated through a solar panel, geothermal station, or windmill?


    While it may seem odd for a project focused on creating habitat to ask about home energy use, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the potentially catastrophic habitat losses we face because of climate change. There is a real and tenuous connection between birds, habitat, and climate. Besides, many of your neighbors, friends, and family are exploring sustainable energy options for their homes. Why not you too?

  • Tended vs. Wild

    Unmanaged wildscapes are very different habitat-types than heavily tended formal gardens. How “wild” your landscape is helps us understand the types of practices you are implementing in that territory to support wildlife. For instance, if you weed, irrigate, or plant in the area that makes it much less wild than a space you leave to grow however it may. Many people cultivate some areas of their yard, but let others go wild.

  • Thorns

    Some research has suggested that thorny shrubs provide advantageous nesting and hiding spots for birdsopen_in_new. Telling us if your plant has thorns lets us understand more about this connection.

  • Timber Management

    Many people actively manage their forests for harvest. How that wood is harvested may impact the wildlife found thereopen_in_new. To learn more about how to harvest your forest for timber while also preserving its habitat potential visit our Forest Page or visit Forest Action Plans. For instance, some people spot harvest, targeting individual mature trees scattered throughout their plots. Harvesting these trees can be fairly low-impact, perhaps even beneficial to species that rely on forest openings for habitat because they mimic a natural tree fall in the woods.

  • Traffic

    The amount of traffic at an outdoor location like a city park or nature preserve impacts soil conditionsopen_in_new, vegetation growth habits, and wildlife.

  • Trunk Diameter

    Trees differ in size significantly. Knowing their size and growth rate can provide you and scientists with information about the surrounding environment and the health of the tree. The tree diameter is an important measurement for foresters and is obtained easily from measuring the circumference of the tree at 4.5 ft./1.3 m from the ground in inches and dividing that length by pi (3.14). To learn an easy way to measure the diameter of a tree, check out this video.

  • Water Flow

    Examples of flowing water include rivers or streams, while examples of standing water include ponds or lakes.

  • Water Salinity

    The saltiness of a body of water is an important ecological variable. Some forms of life can tolerate much greater salt concentrations than others. If the water is salty then the plant and animal communities in the area will differ dramatically from those in a non-salty area.

  • Water Seasonality

    Some wetlands, ponds, streams, and even lakes are seasonal – that is, present in wet months, but absent during the dry season.

  • Wetland Type

    Technically speaking marsh, wetland, estuary, bog, riparian area, fen and swamp all have different meaning. They all describe areas where water either covers the soil or is present at or near the surface, particularly in the root zone, at least a good portion of the year, including the growing season. To figure out which kind of wetland you have visit this Guide.

  • Wildlife Management

    Managing wetlands, grasslands, forests, and shrubbery for wildlife is a complex endeavor that usually requires forethought and planning. Much of YardMap is devoted to helping you think more about managing land for wildlife. Many landowners with significant tracts of land will work with local conservation biologists or outreach associates from their local cooperative extension to develop plans that fit their properties; we simply want to know if you consider your current management practices to be “for wildlife” or not at this point. To find out how to do this visit our Learn Page for a quick look at managing for wildlife and consider getting in contact with your local cooperative extension office (check out the My Resources section on the Explore Page for a link to your local office).

  • Wildlife Mowing

    Some research has shown that birds attempting to nest in hay fields experience drastic nest failure due to mowingopen_in_new. There are steps you can take to minimize the damage done to field bird populations, without completely dropping your hay harvesting. We call this wildlife-friendly mowing:

    1. Delay your harvest, especially if you think inclement weather might have caused delayed nesting in your area. Many birds can successfully raise their young and get them out of harm’s way by the end of June. The longer you wait, the more likely the birds are to fledge and get out of the way of your mower blades.
    2. Leave safety strips in your field. Instead of harvesting every inch, leave bands of unharvested grasses approximately 30 feet wide to provide a safe spot for field birds to keep out of the way. Field edges and odd areas can be targeted for exclusion as well.
    3. Walk your field and learn where your nests are. Don’t harvest the areas where you discover nests.
    4. To give birds the best chance of escaping, harvest fields by starting in the center and working outwards.
    5. Raise the height of your mower blades.
  • Woody Food Source

    Woody plants can provide food for birds and other wildlife via seeds, nectar, nuts or fruits.