General considerations on importing data to My Birding

In this article we explain important information regarding taxonomic discrepancies, different ways that territories are defined and a few more general considerations about importing your external data to My Birding.

How the process works

The steps that lead from the export of your external data to a successful import to My Birding depend on the selected system (BirdTrack, eBird, Ornitho, BirdBase or Excel sheet). Refer to the specific tutorial for each system for more information.

Once the file containing your export is uploaded to the HBW Alive website, it will be placed in the queue of the users’ data to be imported.

The imported data is grouped into birdlists, with their respective sightings. Almost all of the columns from the exported file are processed by the Import tool, so that, in addition to our regular sighting fields (species, date, number of individuals, notes, etc.), some extra fields from the external source can be displayed, like, for example, a link to the sighting in the original website.

After the import is done, a confirmation message will be displayed, along with a few links to check and improve the imported data.

If some unrecognized species remain, you will be able to either edit each sighting to manually pick the correct one, or choose the correct species for all of the sightings affected by the same unrecognized species. The system will make some suggestions so that the species can be conveniently and easily corrected. In case you do not find the correct species, we recommend that you use the Geographic Filter to easily find the species of a particular family or genus.

Users can easily aggregate a group of new birdlists into a trip, so the material is better arranged and it is easier to look for information and make useful queries.

Current state of the project

The Import tool is in its Beta version, meaning that the service is not completely finished, but it is stable enough to be used and evaluated by subscribers making a typical use of their sightings report app/software/website/Excel and carefully following the steps described in the corresponding tutorial.

Our idea isn’t that subscribers should switch from these other projects to come to ours, but rather we are trying to create a system that permits subscribers to use their data in multiple platforms, so that people can fulfil different interests at the same time. So, we encourage subscribers to use their data to participate in citizen science projects, while also having these data in My Birding. Like this, the users’ records can be more easily managed and produce richer information at the personal level, and be closely linked with all of the knowledge and materials available in HBW Alive and the IBC.

Taxonomic discrepancies

As different systems follow different taxonomic classifications, we cannot guarantee a complete match against the taxonomy used by the imported sources. There are two major sources of discrepancies:

- When the English or scientific name used by the system for the species does not exist in our database. This may occur if the species name is in a language other than English, if the scientific name is misspelled, or if the equivalency is missing in our database.

-  When the English or scientific name used by the system for the species is not strictly complete. Some examples include: “a domestic”, “a spuh”, “a slash”, “a hybrid species”, “a subspecies”.

Also, after the application of the new taxonomy from Volume 1 of the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, which covers non-passerine birds, to HBW Alive, there were 41 lumped species and 462 split species compared to the original HBW taxonomy, which means that perhaps some of the imported sightings may not be assigned to the correct species.

For users importing their sightings from BirdBase or other external sources, this process can also include a few species of passerines that are split in HBW Alive, but not in the external source, like the Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus) now split into  Asian (C. cyanus) and Iberian Azure-winged Magpie (C. cooki).

In the case that an imported species doesn't match one in the HBW Alive taxonomy, the original English and scientific names are saved in a special field. Once the import process is finished, the system will show you all the unrecognized species left in your imported species. When you go to correct it, suggestions will be given based on both names.

Equivalencies between territories

Whether your sighting’s location from the external source is based on a postal address, coordinates or a simple territory code, each list of sightings requires a territory to be defined among those available on HBW Alive. This territory can be a country, an island or some smaller unit that is provided with a species distribution.

In the majority of cases, our system will be able to extract a valid territory from the external source or generate one from the coordinates. But there will be cases, with a custom Excel sheet, for example, where the user will have to compare his territories with ours. Take a look at the available territories and codes list for more information.

Eventually an imported sighting might be marked as “out of range” when the sighted species is not present in the territory indicated in the corresponding birdlist, according to the species’ distribution.

In case several birdlists have the same incorrect territory, you will be able to easily change it on all these birdlists at once.

More information

There is a specific tutorial available for each system compatible with the import to My Birding:

If you are not sure about how to proceed, please contact us.


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