In this issue: Check out the new YardMap release, enter the BirdSpotter photo contest, and learn what Yellow Warblers like to eat.
YardMap header

The Dirt: News from YardMap
Joining together to break new ground for birds

November 2013

Site Explorer Menu
"Recently Completed Sites" is a new way to find sites that have just been added to YardMap. Go ahead, check one out, and "Like" it if you think it is a good site. Or, go to "My Sites" to see your own maps.

Take a Look: New Release Makes Exploring Irresistible

The YardMap team has been hard at work bringing you a new web release, with more functionality and a less cluttered navigation bar. The new "Site Explorer," located next to the toolbox, is your one-stop window to finding the maps you've created as well as maps created by other YardMappers. Here are some more new features that will make it easier to discover and learn about new sites while improving your social experience in YardMap:
Here are some new features in "Site Explorer." You can also watch a 3-minute video to see the new features in action.

Because this web release represents a major step forward in our beta development, it is fitting that our monarch caterpillar mascot should grow, too. The caterpillar is now enclosed in a beautiful, realistic chrysalis. Like the website, he will quietly undergo metamorphosis until the day comes when it is time to shed the cocoon of the beta label, spread both wings, and take flight with us. We hope you enjoy this new release, and as always, we encourage you to help us grow by submitting your ideas and suggestions through the Feedback tab in YardMap.
Northern Mockingbird
Janet Allen's featured site, Stewardship Garden, is home to this Northern Mockingbird. Photo by Janet Allen.

Submit a Featured Site

Does your YardMap have a great story behind it? Have you put time and energy into making your site a bird-friendly haven? Share your story with us, and you could end up being our next Featured Site! Whether you've converted your lawn into a natural area, installed a solar panel, created an urban refuge, or planted a green roof, we want to hear about it and share your inspiring stories with others.

You can help change the world with your garden, just like the participants who created our previous Featured Sites. If your yard, community garden, business park, school campus, or any other site has made a positive difference for birds, share your story with other YardMappers and submit the easy nomination form today.

What kind of site can be a Featured Site? Any type of property that has been managed for birds! Here are some alternative site types that have not yet been featured:
  • school gardens
  • golf courses
  • airports
  • cemeteries
  • public libraries
  • city parks
Many different properties, large and small, can be managed for birds. Works-in-progress are also encouraged. Don't wait to inspire others with your story!

BirdSpotter is BackGrab Your Camera and Win!

BirdSpotter photo contest
Your backyard bird photos could help you win big!
Project FeederWatch and Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods are teaming up for the second annual BirdSpotter photo contest. Participating is as easy as point-and-shoot. Just take photos of the birds that visit your feeders and post them on the contest web page at Voting on the web page will decide the weekly winners, with prizes such as a Cornell Lab Sapsucker camera strap and a bag of Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats. The contest runs from November through February, with a grand-prize winner receiving a trip for two to Oregon for three nights, a mill tour from Bob, and fantastic birding with Northwest natives.
Yellow Warbler
Your neighbors will be green with envy when you tell them you have Yellow Warblers on your yard list. Photo by J. Young via BirdShare.

Hello, Sunshine

We've just added a new species to our "Which Birds, Which Plants?" feature! Say hello to the Yellow Warbler, a charming little migrant that breeds in much of the United States and Canada. This sunshine-yellow warbler is 10 grams of insect-devouring loveliness. Listen for its cheerful song (which sounds like "sweet, sweet, I'm so very sweet") in wet thickets and riparian areas dominated by willows.
Diversity matters
Original photo by Serenithyme on Flickr.

Evolve: Go Native

A recent study from Minnesota found that urban yards have exceptionally high numbers of exotic plant species when compared to rural "natural" areas. In urban yards, almost 60% of volunteer plants (those not planted by homeowners) were exotic, compared with just 16% exotic species in a nearby reserve. The exotic plants in yards were also more closely related to each other than the native plants were to other natives, which indicates a loss of evolutionary information and a homogenization of plant communities in urban yards.

Urban yards also had more self-pollinated and wind-pollinated plants than natural areas, meaning fewer opportunities for insect pollinators to feed. The study authors conclude that supporting native species in household yards has the potential to foster a range of evolutionary strategies, which could make urban plant communities more resiliant to environmental changes.


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  • Ask fellow participants your bird and plant questions in The Community, our social network for habitat stewards.
  • Email us.

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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