How to Submit a Complete Map

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Ever wondered if the data you submit to the Habitat Network is the best it can be? The Habitat Network is first and foremost a citizen-science project, which means you are contributing to science by participating in the project and providing us habitat details. In order to get the highest quality data, we ask that you provide a Full and Complete Habitat Map.

Site outline

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1. Create a siteline to denote the boundaries of the space you want to map. This will often follow the property line of a private residence, but could also be the grounds of a school, a particular place you like to bird, or even your workplace. It should include the buildings on the property, and should not exclude front yards, or paved areas.

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2.At least 90% of the area in your site should be covered with habitat polygons. These habitats are your landcover, and include buildings or paved areas. This represents some of the most important data you enter for the Habitat Network. To know if you’ve covered your map with at least 90% habitats, see the pie chart created in the column to the left of your map once you complete your habitat mapping.

3. Habitat lines touch and do not overlap. Example A has no gaps between habitats. This makes your data more accurate.


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Example B has gaps between habitats.


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4. Objects should be placed on top of your habitat polygons. Objects come in two types: plants and wildlife friendly features. They give you the option of getting very specific about the features in your site (from the locations of bird feeders to the exact species of shrubs.) Clicking on any object brings it up in the left side bar (or Site Explorer). From there you can click on “Info” to add extra ecological details (read this article for detailed instructions about how to do this).

info window

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5. Objects and habitats should appear INSIDE your site line.

Over boundary

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6. Utilize your Information Windows (Infowindows). These are created for the site and each habitat and object you map. The information windows let you add titles, customize your objects with important information, or characteristics–for example, how often do you water? Or, are there cats around? Or, what percent native is your meadow? You can also leave comments about your site, habitats, or objects using your infowindows under “Comments”. (read this article for detailed instructions about how to do this).

characteristic box

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Accessing the Infowindow Click on any object on your map (including the Site Line) to load it in the left side bar. Clicking the green “Info” opens the infowindow.


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Open Infowindow. Here you’ll find tools to add names, species IDs, photos, and ecological information to each habitat and object in your site.

7. All the characteristics found in the infowindows for your site, habitats, and objects need to be set.

not known

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8. If there are some characteristics you don’t know, please set the dials to “Not known.”

title site

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9. Be sure to set a title for your site.

10. Return to your map to make updates, changes and additions.

How long does it take to make a complete habitat map?
A complete map can take a few hours to complete. The timing depends on the amount of time you dedicate at each mapping session, your learning curve with the program, and the speed of your computer and internet. We encourage users to take their time, provide as many details as possible, and return to your map over and over again to document the changes you are making to live more sustainably and improve habitat for wildlife.

Log in with your Cornell Citizen Science Username and Password to leave a comment or ask a question

(This is the same username you use to sign-in to eBird, the Habitat Network, Celebrate Urban Birds, FeederWatch, NestWatch, Maccaulay Library)