Introduction to the Groups Tool

Photo ©

There are a great number of organizations doing invaluable on-the-ground work to change the way people use our landscapes. The Groups Tool is meant to support these efforts, while building our common data set to understand how these changing landscapes impact birds and other wildlife. This article introduces the groups tools to help people put it use. There are additional articles that cover Creating a New Group and Joining an Existing Group.


Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

What Does the Groups Tool Do?

The Groups Tool provides a way for anyone to link sites (maps) together. When you do this, you can keep track of statistics about your group, have a list of all the sites that are a part of your organization, and hold conversations in the social network just between your people. Before we introduced the groups tool, if everyone in your neighborhood group working on reducing lawn mapped their yards, those maps would become part of the larger community, but you wouldn’t have a way to keep track of your collective work independent of the larger database. Now you do.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

When you open the Groups tab you see the Groups Home page. There you can view the groups with the most maps, and the newest groups. You can see how many comments have been made inside the group, and quickly tell which of the groups is private, and which are open. Off to the left, you’ll see some menu options, including “Find a Group.”

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

If you click on “Find a Group” it will slide open to reveal a search box, where you can look for groups local to your area, for instance, by searching for the name of your town, neighborhood, state, or county, or for groups whose interests you share, for instance, by searching for “lawn alternatives,” “birds,” or “pollinators.” You may also be looking for a group run by a particular organization, like “Nature Canada” or “Wild Ones.”

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Once you find the group you are looking for, you can click on it and that group’s homepage will appear. On the homepage you’ll find some critical details including information on who the administrators are (these are the folks who approve membership to the group) and data summaries for all the sites that belong to the group.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The STATS section shows total acres mapped by the group, and if you have a site in the group, the percent of those acres attributed to your map. It also shows the average completeness of maps in the group, including your personal percent complete. The last statistic in this column is percent of landscaping devoted to lawn. This statistic is a little bit different than the one displayed in your site’s pie chart; it is explained in detail in this article on measuring your lawn.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Column 2, HABITAT BREAKDOWN, contains data about the composition of maps found in the group. Each bar chart breaks down maps by percent lawn, buildings and pavement (combined into one category called “built”), edibles (areas mapped as food gardens, or croplands), , Wildlife Habitat (an aggregated category of areas mapped as forest, shrubbery, wetlands, water, grasses, flowers/ herbs, and ground). You can read more about this aggregated category in our Wildlife Habitat Category explanation article. Additionally, each bar chart shows the percent unmapped. The top bar represents your map’s habitat break down, the second bar represents the average of all the group’s maps, and the third is a static category called the “Average American Yard” which shows how the proportion of each category in a research-based estimate of the average residential property found in the United States. You can see our infographic about these statistical estimates here.

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Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Clicking on the Member Sites tab will show you a list of sites that belong to the group, including information about the site owner, and the location of the site. Clicking on the owner’s name will load their profile in the forums, while clicking on the site title will load that map so you can view it’s details.

Lawn See

Photo © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

You can click on “expand map” to reveal a map showing all the sites that belong to the group. Clicking on one of the visible markers will load that map so you can see the details.

To read more about Groups, view our articles on Creating a Group and Joining a Group.