Birds and Birding at Patterson Park

A series of four posters exploring birds and birding at Patterson Park, an urban oasis and migratory stopover located in Baltimore City.

This project was completed as my thesis project in the Data Analytics and Visualization Masters program at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

A live presentation detailing data prep and the (often maddening) design iteration process was given on 12/10/2020, and can be viewed on YouTube.

Medium Article: Finding a Through Line, or My Creative Process Is a Mess, So Is Life, and That’s Okay (Probably)

Awards: Silver Medal – 29th edition of the Malofiej International Infographics Awards | https://www.malofiejgraphics.com/awards/el-pais-and-errea-comunicacion-receive-the-best-of-show-awards/2021/06

Information and Data Visualization Thesis Award – Maryland Institute College of Art

Tools: R, Adobe Illustrator

Data: eBird Basic Dataset. Version: EBD_relJul-2020. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Jul 2020. ebird.org/science

Patterson Park Audubon Center: patterson.audubon.org

John James Audubon’s Birds of America print images are public domain. High-res versions of these images were obtained from audubon.org/birds-of-america

A Priority at the Park

Five regular visitors of the park have been identified by Patterson Park Audubon Center (PPAC) and Audubon Maryland-DC experts as priority species. These are priority birds that may be most impacted by PPAC’s various conservation efforts.

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The Birds of Patterson Park

This dendrogram shows the full breadth of bird orders, families and species that have visited Patterson Park from 2009-2019, with a special focus on the five priority species.

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When They Are Here

Bird abundance ebbs and flows throughout the year, and each bird that visits the park has its own pattern of arrival and/or departure. Visualized, these create a ‘fingerprint’ unique to each individual bird.

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A Guestbook for the Park

An eBird checklist is like a guestbook. It may contain deeply personal reactions, especially if a birder has recorded a particularly rare guest. The data allows us to explore not only the birds, but aspects of the act of birding itself, by exploring the data of those who’ve ‘signed’ the guestbook.

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BIRDS OF AMERICA HOMAGES

These are a few of the John James Audubon data homages I created while working on the thesis. I really enjoyed making these, and may put together something similar for every bird at Patterson Park for a future project.

Methodology

These posters were created using a subset of the full EBD from ebird.org for the state of Maryland only from 01/01/2009 through 12/31/2019. This data was joined to the Clements Checklist for order and family details.

This dataset was then filtered down to Patterson Park sightings only, and all sightings marked with an observation count of X were removed. This removed ~2,300 rows of data, leaving 54,991 sightings at the park. I removed these X counts because I wanted to only work with observations that contained a raw number count.

I was unable to get the auk() package to zero-fill my dataset, and so created a zero-filled dataset from this data myself. A brief rundown of this process is in the YouTube presentation of my thesis.

For this project, an “Observer” is whomever is listed in the Observer_ID column, regardless of how many IDs are present. So, if two people are listed as the observer, they count as one, and an subsequent checklists submitted by the same pairing are analyzed as a single birder. This was done because my main ‘observer’ focus in these posters was checklists counts over observer counts.

I plan on doing a more thorough methodology write-up in the future, as its own post.

My R scripts will be posted to github when they have been cleaned up a bit. Things got messy in the mad-dash toward thesis presentations.