Portal Help

The Tricolored Blackbird Portal contains much information about the natural history and conservation of tricolored blackbirds, and at its core consists of a database with primarily two types of records: records of locations (where birds breed or aggregate during the non-breeding season) and records of observations.  As an element of the data entry process, while entering records of observations, Portal users must choose an existing location from a menu.  Thus, if birds are seen at a location from which they have not been previously reported, or for which the Portal does not currently contain a location record, the data entry process requires users to first enter a location record and then enter records of observations at this location.

If you are unsure whether the Portal contains a record for a location where birds have been observed, click on Locations Map from the menu on the right margin of the home page, select the county in which you observed the birds, then use the Google Maps widget to navigate to the location.  Click on an orange balloon to view the name, coordinates, and whether this location is a breeding colony, and click on the "x" in the upper right corner to close the balloon.  If you find that the location already exists in the Portal, click on "+Add an Observation" in the balloon to begin to enter a new Observation record.  If you observed birds in a location that is not in the Portal, follow the instructions below to first enter a new location record, and then proceed to enter an observation record for this location.

To Add a New Location Record

To add a new location record, select Locations Map from the menu on the right margin of the Home Page, scroll to the bottom of this page and click on "+Add a New Location".

Fill in the data entry fields beginning with Location Name.  Provide a location name that is brief and intuitive and easy for you and others to remember.  Do not use the Location Name field to provide directions to the site; rather, try to incorporate landscape features (e.g., Willow Creek) or nearby roads if possible.  Do not identify private property owners in the Location Name.  In the Ownership field, enter either Public or Private.  And again, do not identify the owners of private property in the Ownership field.

If you know the geographic coordinates of the location where birds were seen: on the Google Maps widget, enter the geographic coordinates (e.g., 38.1098, -121.2345) into the Geoposition field and then click outside the Geoposition box to navigate to these coordinates.  Click on Satellite to view the position of the pointer and if you need to make adjustments, click on the map to move the pointer to the desired position then click outside the Geoposition box again to save these coordinates.

If you do not know the geographic coordinates of the location where birds were seen: on the Google Maps widget, click on the navigation icon in the upper left corner of the map to navigate to your current position, then use the "+" and "-" buttons to zoom, and then click and drag on the map to move the map and place a pointer at the location where the birds were seen.  Click outside the Geoposition box to save these coordinates.

If you saw breeding birds, select Yes under Is this location a breeding site?  If this is the position of a foraging flock, winter roost, or otherwise a location where non-breeding birds were seen, let this value default to "No".

Select primary and secondary nesting substrates from the menus of choices (for breeding colony locations).

Select a County from the menu.

Continue to select options from the radio buttons or menus and provide a brief description of the location.  If you have a photo of the location, you may upload it by selecting Browse... under Location Images and navigating to the file you wish to upload.

When done, click on Preview to look at the new record you've created or on Save to save this record.

To Add a New Observation Record

To add a new Observation record, you may either 1) select Locations from the Menu Bar, select a County then click on Apply, and click on the Add Observation link at the right of the location record in the table of location records, or 2) click on Locations Map, select a County, then find the balloon indicating the desired Location, and inside this balloon, click on "+Add an Observation".  Note that you open balloons on the Google Maps widget by clicking on them, and close them by clicking on "x" in the upper right corner of the balloon.

The Title field is required but is for your personal record-keeping and may contain any value, even a ".".  You may wish to use this field to document a survey; for example, for observations made during a triennial Statewide Survey, the year and "Statewide Survey" may be entered here (e.g., 2022 Statewide Survey).  If you wish to group all of your observation records for a regional survey, you may wish to enter the region and date, for example "Sierra Foothills Survey May 1, 2022."  It is up to you how you wish to use this field.

Select the name of the location (this field will begin to auto-fill as soon as you start typing) and select the name of the observer.  Note: all observers must be selected from the Observer pulldown menu.  To add new Observers, contact the Portal administrator.  Next, select an Observation Event (typically either Statewide Survey or Personal Observation), then enter the date and time of the observation.

Enter estimates (best, minimum, and maximum) of the number of birds seen, or enter "0" in the Best Estimate field then click in the box to the left of "I confirm there are no Tricolored Blackbirds present at this location" to confirm that no birds were seen, then proceed to select the type and precision of your estimate, enter the number of minutes you observed at the location, select a suitability ranking of the nesting substrate, and if you find the location to be permanently unsuitable for breeding by tricolored blackbirds, provide a brief description of the site to explain why it is permanently unsuitable.

Proceed to select breeding behaviors observed, if appropriate, and then provide, if possible, an estimate of the area occupied by the breeding birds, then enter any comments that you may have about what you observed. You may then upload an image taken the day of the observation, if desired.  You may click on Preview to review your new observation record and the choices that you've made, or click on Save to save this record.