Sunday, May 5, 2013

BowerBird User Guide

The best browsers for BowerBird are either Chrome or FireFox and you should be using the latest versions of these web browsers.  If you must use Microsoft IE please download version 9.  BowerBird using “bleeding edge” software so its needs the latest browser updates.

The BowerBird URL is:,au

Join and Login

First: “Join” register and then Log in to BowerBird

When you first open BowerBird you will see nothing as you need to create your own personal interface with BowerBird.  By that I mean, you probably do not want to see EVERYTHING happening on BowerBird so we invite you to select which Projects or People or Organisations you want to Join or Follow.  Once you have joined Projects or follow People, you will see everything that is added in your selections.  It’s a nice way to tailor your view of BowerBird.

Of course, you can still opt to see EVERYTHING happening on BowerBird by clicking the “Sightings” button on the top row:

We have decided to build BowerBird around Projects because that is where a citizen science community of like-minded people sharing a common interest can gather.

So, the first thing you do when you enter BowerBird is to click the “Projects” and Join some Projects.

Join some Projects or Organisations and Follow some BowerBird Members

After you have clicked the “Projects” button will be presented with a list of existing Projects that you can scroll through and click the “Join” button for any that take your interest.

At any time, you can go back into Projects’ list and click to “Leave” a Project. 

Below you can see that I have Joined all of the Projects visible.  The numbers in the bottom left corner of each Project list

the number of People who have joined this Project and the second number shows you how many observations have been uploaded to that Project.

Below are some of the Projects I have Joined.  There is a scroll bar on the right side for you to scroll through your selected Projects.

Also, here are some of the People I am currently following.

And finally, I am a member of one Organisation.

This is my personal view of BowerBird which will probably differ from anyone else on BowerBird.


I recommend you Join the “Butterfly Egg” project just for a look.  Here I have added egg images for 127 Australian butterfly species.  Amazingly complex little things!

Once you have joined some Projects, click your “Home” button you will have plenty to see!

Once you have Joined a Project, you will automatically see any uploads that are sent to any of your Joined Projects.

Creating new Observations

After you have Joined one or more Projects you can then begin to create and add new Observations to BowerBird.

Just click the Camera icon button (top left)

Which will open the upload template.

First, you load images or sounds files or you link to existing videos on YouTube or Vimeo.

To add images, click the “Add Media” button and select “My Files”.

You can add images individually or select them as groups.

BowerBird will then show you how many images you have selected to upload and shows you an image upload progress bar.

BowerBird’s default copyright setting is Creative Common 3.0 which means anyone can reuse your image with acknowledgement to you.

You can change YOUR the default image license by editing your settings.  Click your name in the top right corner of the webpage and open “Edit Account Details”

Then scroll down to the “Licensing” section and make a selection.  Once the changes have been Saved, they then become your default license every time you upload an image.

Once you have uploaded an image, you can change the copyright license for individual image by opening the arrow on each image and clicking “Edit Details”.

Here you can add an image caption to the image and chose from any of 7 different copyright statement from All Rights Reserved to various Creative Commons.

Once your images have been uploaded and you have settled copyright issues, you then add GPS coordinates.

Here is a list of ways you can add GPS data:

1.    You can enter the name of a place (City, Town or even street name) and if it is in the Google library it will automatically place your pointer at that spot.

2.    You can click the “Drag Pin” and place it on the map. 

With both of these way, I suggest you then Expand the Map, change to the satellite view and scroll to enlarge the view of the map to refine your pin placement.

 3.    If you have GPS coordinates for your locaity, click the Edit Coordinates:  

Here you can add coordinates as Decimal degrees, Degrees Minutes and Seconds or as UTMs.

Finally, to complete an observation upload, you need to select a Taxon category, Date and which Project(s) you want add your observation to:


Once you have saved the Observation, only you can EDIT it to add more images, change the title, GPS or perhaps to add it to more Projects.

BUT – any other member of the Project can:

-       Vote for it
-       Add it to their Favourites
-       Identify it – there can be multiple identifications for the same observation
-       Describe it
-       Comment on it.

BowerBird has its own Master Names Checklist for the Australian biota - covering 7 Kingdoms and approximately 210,000 individual species names.

You can enter text which will return any scientific or common name with the text words you have written.

Or you can work your way down a hierarchical classification.

Once you select a species, it will pop into the box above giving the species' full taxonomic classifications as well as all available common names.

At present, the way to Comment on an Observation is through the Describe button.  Unfortunately, you must add a Tag and Comment for it to be saved.

Viewing Projects

When you first open a Project, the view is the Timeline View which shows you all of the activity for every record – very long winded and meticulously chronological.

However, if you click the Sightings button, then you get a Titled View of each observation only once.

If you click the Sightings button, you will get a tiled view with all of the activity for each record stored inside a single entry.

To open any observation, just click on the Title name.

 In the Sightings mode, you also have access to the Search button:

 Here you can search on any common or scientific name:

Or you can open the taxonomy module to look at any Kingdom, Class, Order or as in this case I wanted to look at just the Skipper (ie. Hesperiidae) eggs:

Anyone at any time can decide to add a description to the Observation:

This opens an “Add a Description” drop down box and you can chose which category best fits your descriptive text.

There are a range of options.  This is where you could note behavioural attributes of a species such as your described earlier seeing a species for only a few months of the year while other you see all year round.

In BowerBird, we can have one or more images of the species but we can have continual updates of the life cycle of the species through users continually adding notes to the single Observation.

Click on the Observation TITLE to open the Observation and see all of its contents.

Good luck and Enjoy!

Throw me any questions at

I have also started a BowerBird Help blog which also answers questions.  Here is the URL:



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making an Identification

The flexibility of BowerBird is that anyone who has Joined a Project can add an identification to any Observation posted to that Project.

Let's go through this with a demonstration:

I have entered a new Observation but not provided an Identification:  See the arrow points to 0 identifications.

Another user named Heather believes she know what this species is and so Clicks the Blue Identify button (see above) which opens a new template where she clicks the "Identify the Sighting" button. (see below)

This opens up the Identification template.  Here you need to find the name you want to use for this animal or plant.  There are a number of ways to do this:

1.  You can choose to find a name by typing in either its scientific or common name; or,
2.  You can choose to expand the Classification hierarchy to find your scientific only name.

Let's try the text search for COMMON name. It's common name begins with "Blue eyes".  There is only one animal in Australia with that Common name.  You click the offered name to accept it.

Let's try searching for the scientific name which has the generic name "Nymphes".  You can see that all species in the genus Nymphes are returned and you just need to click the name you want.

Let's try the Classification search.  Here we have gone down from Animalia to the correct species name.

Having accepted the identification (click DONE and SAVE), a new item pops up in the Timeline showing my original upload and Heather's identification of my image:

Now, my original Observation has had its Identification counter updated to reflect that an identification has been done.

That's identification in a nutshell.  

Cheers -- Ken
Image Types and Suggested Image size for BowerBird use.

BowerBird will accept a wide variety of image types:  JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF and TIF.

We suggest you primarily upload JPEG or PNG images.

We also suggest these file size setting for images to be uploaded to BowerBird:

1000 pixel width at 72 DPI:

Bye Ken

Monday, February 25, 2013

Getting Started!

Hi All,


Step 1.  Register on BowerBird.

Through this template:

Then Login:

Once inside BowerBird -- you can enhance your Profile by Editing it.  Click the button in the top right corner and Edit Account Details.

You can add an avatar, give some details about yourself and even select what time zone you are in.

Now what to do?

Once logged in, you are presented with your own personal BowerBird space.  Because it is your own BowerBird space, you must tell BowerBird what you want to see and do  in BowerBird.  The "seeing" and "doing" are done through Projects.

The first thing to do in BowerBird is to click the Projects button at the top.

This will show you a display of all of the Projects that have been created on BowerBird.  

You can choose to Join as many of these Projects as you like. 

You simply click the "Join" button in the bottom right corner of the Project box.  

If ever you want to leave a Project, simply go back to the Project Box and re-click "Joined" which will change to "Join" and you will removed from the Project.

You can also choose to Create a New Project.

Simply click the Project create button in the top left corner.

This will open a template for you to complete. You can add a Project avatar and Project Background images. Provide a name, what animal or plants groups will feature in the Project and provide a brief description of your new Project then click Save.  

Other will hopefully see your Project and decide to Join and to contribute.

Creating a new Observation.

Click the "Add a new sighting" button in the Top left corner.

This will open a template.

Step 1.  ADD MEDIA (Images, Sound files or Video links to YouTube or Vimeo)

You can add up to 20 images per Observation.

Step 2.  ADD A TITLE


You can TYPE IN A LOCATION NAME (eg. Benalla).  Google Maps will offer you a known locality and you select or reject it.

If selected, a blue pin will drop onto the map.

If you want to adjust where the pin is placed, You can change the View of the Map to Satellite and you can EXPAND the map.

Here is an example of where I have moved the pin from the middle of Benalla into the NE.

You can also supply the GPS coordinates yourself.  Just click the "Edit Coordinates" button:

You will be offered 3 ways to enter GPS coordinates:

1.  Decimal Degrees

2. Degrees Minutes and Seconds

3.  UTMs


These are a selection of the animals or plants or fungi to choose from:

Step 5.  ADD A DATE


You will only see a selected of the Projects that you have either Joined or Created


That's how to add an Observation.

In other Blogs I will show you how to edit an Observation, Identify it, Vote for it, Add Descriptions, Comments and Tags.

Cheers -- Ken