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 observed, 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 Map widget to navigate to the location.  Click on a blue or yellow balloon, if needed, to zoom in to view locations obscured beneath the balloon.  If you find that the location already exists in the Portal, click on +Add an Observation on the white balloon containing the location name and geographic coordinates to begin the data entry process.  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 select +Add a New Location.

Fill in the data entry fields beginning with Location Name.  Provide a location name that is intuitive and easy for you and others to remember.  Try to incorporate landscape features (e.g., Willow Creek) or nearby roads if possible.  In ownership, enter either Public or Private. 

If you know the geographic coordinates of the location where birds were seen: on the Google Map widget, enter the geographic coordinates (e.g., 38.1098, -121.2345) into the Geoposition field where "Enter a location" appears grayed-out, and then click on the magnifying glass icon.

If you do not know the geographic coordinates of the location where birds were seen: on the Google Map widget, enter some nearby known location (e.g., Fresno, CA) into the Geoposition field, click on the magnifying glass icon, and then navigate from this position to that where you saw the birds, then click on the appropriate spot to place a marker on the map.

Select either Yes or No under Is this location a breeding site?

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, 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.

The Title field is for your personal book-keeping and may contain information such as the date.  For observations made during a triennial Statewide Survey, the year and "Statewide Survey" should be entered here (e.g., 2020 Statewide Survey).  Type in the name of the location (this field will begin to auto-fill as soon as you start typing), type in your name to select yourself as the observer, and select an Observation Event (typically either Statewide Survey or Personal Observation), and enter the date and time of the observation.

Enter estimates (best, minimum, and maximum) of the number of birds seen, or click in the box 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 the birds, 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, enter any comments that you may have about what you observed, then either upload an image taken the day of the observation of click on Preview to review your new observation record and the choices that you've made, or on Save to save this record.