Sunday, June 26, 2005

New Birds Added June 26, 2005

Here are the new bird added to the Percevia Birds of North America database on June 26, 2005

Gilded Flicker Breeding Male

Arizona Woodpecker Breeding Male

Golden-fronted Woodpecker Breeding Male

Buff-collared Nightjar Breeding Male

Great Kiskadee Breeding Male

Common Pauraque Breeding Male

Ladder-backed Woodpecker Breeding Male

Red-cockaded Woodpecker Breeding Male

Rose-throated Becard Breeding Male

Three-toed Woodpecker Breeding Male

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Improvements to Percevia June 2005

In the last month we have made a number of significant improvements to Percevia. Be sure and check out the new rating system on the species account pages.

1. Revamped the GUI in several ways for example the group menus are on the left now and they remember the last group you opened if you come back later or use the back button.

2. Moved the Match window to the top of the screen and changed the way it works so it now presents the matches using "paging" like Google does. You no longer have to wait for all the birds to fill up the window. You can click a link to see all the birds if you want.

3. Added a rating system to the bird species accounts so you can now vote on the quality of the illustration as well as leave comments about the page. Please when you visit a bird page let us know how we are doing on the illustrations and content. It takes just one click to vote.

4. News: The North Dakota Department of Health West Nile Virus Surveillance Program is using Percevia to identify birds.

5. We now have 778 birds in the database, so we are almost done with North America. We will begin adding European birds in a few weeks and convert our units to the metric system (English units will be there too).

6. Added a FAQ where you can read a discussion about where Percevia came from, and how it differs from other web sites that claim to offer searching. This should also clear up some confusion about the non commercial and free status of this site.

7. Added a new attribute called "Readily Eats" which contains food items for a large number of birds.

8. Created a Forum for asking questions about a bird you want to identify, leave suggestions and more.

Friday, June 24, 2005

New birds added for June 2005

Here are the 24 birds we have added to the database so far in June 2005:

And here are the five birds we added last week:

Gilded Flicker Breeding Male
Gilded Flicker Breeding Male

Golden-fronted Woodpecker Breeding Male

Golden-fronted Woodpecker Breeding Male

Great Kiskadee Breeding Male

Great Kiskadee Breeding Male

Ladder-backed Woodpecker Breeding Male

Ladder-backed Woodpecker Breeding Male

Rose-throated Becard Breeding Male

Rose-throated Becard Breeding Male

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Search When You Know a Field Mark

The best way to find a bird using the Percevia search engine is when you have noticed a few of the birds field marks. Field marks are attributes of the bird like color, shape, pattern and so on.

Search When You Know a Field Mark There are two steps required when searching with field marks:

You pick a field mark.
You select a value for it.
Repeat Until Found.

Search for a Bird. For example lets say we saw a bird in our backyard that looked like this, and that it was eating at our bird feeder:

Lets also say all we noticed is that this bird had a kind of crested crown, like a spiked hairdo, and we also noticed that the color of this crown was very dark, maybe black.

Okay now look how easy it is to find that bird.

First a word about the interface. Note in the illustration below there are two basic windows.

Match Window. The window on top always shows the first six birds in the database, the rest of them are hidden but can be seen by clicking See All Matches. If you click that now it will display all the birds in the database, which is a lot, so hold on. We only show six to keep things from getting overwhelming.

Field Mark or Attribute Window. The window below the Match window contains all the field marks you can select for your search, which will narrow the number of birds in the Match window. These marks are divided into groups, and you can open a group by clicking on its name. The default group is called Common Characteristics.

Lets go back to finding our bird.

2. Since we saw this bird in our backyard we can start by picking the Backyard Feeder attribute. Select the check box Yes, then click on the Next button.

The search engine will now reduce the database down to just birds that feed at backyard feeders which surprisingly is a very small subset of the over 800 birds in North America. Birds like a lot of variety in there diet.

1. You can see this above the Match window message 61 Matches. Note also the six birds that are displayed have changed, now you are seeing the first six which feed at feeders. At this point you could click on Show All Matches and see all 61 birds. Maybe the one you want pops out at you. If so you could click on it and its species account page would appear in the browser, with illustrations, field mark information, its call or song to listen to, etc. But that is still a lot of birds so lets use the search engine to narrow it to a much smaller list.

2. Also note the small history list at the top of the Match window. This lets you know what you have selected so far, it shows the name of the database followed by Backyard Feeder. There is one more new window that has been added. Its called Specified Criteria and is located at the bottom of the Attribute window. Its a detailed description of what you have selected, showing the name of the Field Mark and the values that have been selected so far. At any time you can click on the Edit button and go back and change what you selected.

We are making good progress. With just a few clicks we have eliminated hundreds of birds.

Pick the Head Pattern. The head is a great place to start when trying to identify a bird so lets select that as our next attribute to narrow the search. Click on the Pattern group and then click on the Head Pattern field mark (icon). This will bring up the values for the Head Pattern field mark as shown below.

1. We now see the various head patterns. Note the one called Crested or Plumed. That is the one we want, so we click in its check box which will select it.

2. Click the Next button.

Pick the Crown Color. Remember we noticed the crest was dark, so lets use Crown color to find just those birds that have a black crown. So begin by opening the Head group.

1. Click on the Crown color icon.

This will open the color choices for the crown. Note that there are a limited set of colors. Percevia has eliminated colors that will not help narrow the search. Its one of the cool features of the search engine.

1. Select Black and click the Next button.

Found it - Steller's Jay.

After clicking the Next button the search engine eliminated all birds that feed from backyard feeders which have crested black crows. It found one bird, the Steller's Jay and so it presents the Species Account page for that bird, as shown below.

There are several tabs at the top of the page for learning more about this bird. Here is what they mean.

1. Species Overview. Basic information about the bird, including description, range and habitat, a link to listen to the call, a range map, and more.

2. Identification. Extensive details about the size, shape and colors of the bird.

3. Behavior. How the bird lives, its lifestyle, feeding, breeding, nesting and so on. Links to web sites about the bird, number of eggs, egg color and much more.

4. Portrait. A full size color portrait of the bird that you can print out.

5. New Search. Restart the search from scratch.

6. Glossary. Definitions of bird terminology.

7. Print it. A printer friendly version of this page.

Now try to find a bird yourself.


Search When You Know a Bird's Name

I want to tell you about some cool changes we have made to Percevia to make your searching more enjoyable. First lets take a look at the three ways you can search, using the bird database as our example.

Search When You Sort of Know a Bird's Name. At the top of every page is something we call Quick Search. This simple looking text field is actually magical. With it you can enter the enter the name of any bird, even if you dont know exactly how to spell it, and the software will try to guess what you mean and automatically present a list of likely names to choose from in a drop down menu. Here is how to use it.

1. Select the database you wish to use from the drop down menu called Select Database. In this case we selected Birds of North America (there are several others, including a Laptop Buyer's Guide, World Facts, etc.) but we will ignore them for now. However they work the same way.

2. Type the name of the bird you are thinking of in the field called Search Term.

Thats all there is to it.

As you type your name a drop down menu will appear under the Search Term field with a list of the birds the seach engine thinks you are looking for. If you keep typing the list of possible birds will grow shorter. You don't have to type dashes. This effect is often called autocomplete. At any time if you see your bird on the list you can click on the name and the species account for that bird will appear in your browser in a new window.

What could be more simple?