Marked Birds Database – Version 1.16.0 available

I’m happy to announce the release of the Marked Birds Database version 1.16.0. It contains various new features, efficiency improvements and fixed issues.

The main changes and improvements are:

  • Current Bird Age: the update process has been fixed and improved (again)
  • Observations: showing the time that has passed since the last observation
  • Observations: showing the day of the week
  • Observations: updating the list of observers
  • Observations: new observation type: ‘Camera trap’
  • Observations in Bird Overview: showing co-observers
  • Life histories: adding an image
  • Life histories: showing only the text version
  • Birds: adding references
  • Minor design changes

For a full list, see the bottom of this article.

A link to the download file as well as instructions about installing, setting up and using the database can be found on the Marked Birds Database page.

Users who are using a previous version can import their data into the new version.

Updating the Current Bird Age

I recently adviced all of you to update the current bird age now that we are in a new calendar year. I noticed though that the update was only performed if ringing details exist for a bird. The process was also still quite slow and took a long time to complete.

I have therefore made the following changes:

  • When no ringing details exist for a bird, the first available observation is now used to re-calculate the current bird age.
  • The process is now run fully from the Bird Overview layout, without opening other windows in the background.
  • The progress can now be followed on screen.
  • The processing time has been drastically reduced.

I would advice all users to once more run this process. It can be run from Manage MBDB > Actions > Update Current Age for All Birds.

Observations: time passed since last observation

When observing a ringed bird, one of the questions that I ask myself is: “When did I last see it and how long ago was this?”.

The first question is simply answered by looking at the date, but calculating the exact time between those dates can be tricky if not impossible.

I have therefore automated this by letting the database perform the calculation and have the result shown in the Bird Overview layout as well as in the BirdRing import screen. The difference in time is expressed in the total number of days followed by how this translates into the number of years, months and days: (click on the images for a larger view)

Please be aware of the following:

  • The difference is only calculated for observations of type ‘Personal observation’, ‘Camera trap’, and ‘Capture – ringing’; other observations are ignored.
  • The difference is (re-)calculated for all observations of a bird when a new observation is created, updated or deleted for that bird.

Observations: day of the week

For observations, the day of the week on which the observation was done is now also stored. This has the following benefits:

  • It improves awareness of the accuracy of the entered date: if you know that the observation was done on a Wednesday but you see it listed as a Thursday, you know that something is wrong.
  • It allows you to search on day of the week. Sometimes you know that an observation was done on a particular weekday in a particular month, but you do not know the date of that day. Using the day of the week, you can now perform other types of searches, for instance by searching for observations done on a Sunday in a particular year at a particular location.
  • It allows you to spot trends. Visualizing the day of the week also allows you to see if a bird is observed more often on one day of the week than on another day.

The day of the week is shown in the Bird Overview layout (next to the date) and on the Bird Details layout (as a label on the button for viewing all observations of that day).

Note that the day of the week is stored in English only.

Observations: updating the list of observers

On many occasions I observe birds together with other observers. When creating a new observation though (either manually or by using the BirdRing import), I will be set as the only observer.

Although adding multiple observers for an observation is already possible by using the Copy button to copy the observation details, this also updates the date, time and location of each observation.

To make it possible to only update the list of observers, I have added options to do this manually (typically used for a few observations) or automatically (typically used for many observations in one action).

The process works as follows:

Step 1. Access the Observation Details screen and perform a search for all observations that you want to update.

Step 2. For one of the observations that was found (it does not matter which one), update the list of observers by adding or removing observers until all observers for that day are correctly listed.

Step 2. Do one of the following:

  • For updating the list manually: click ‘Copy list of observers’, go to the observation that you want to update and click ‘Paste list of observers’. The list of observers for this observation will be cleared and updated with the list of observers that is copied.

  • For updating the list automatically: click Batch Actions and in the popup that appears, click ‘Update’ under ‘Observers’. A message appears asking to confirm the action. If you are sure, click Continue. The list of observers for all currently found observations will be cleared and updated with the list of observers of the observation that you are currently viewing. (Note that you don’t have to copy them first, the process does this for you.)

New observation type: ‘Camera trap’

A new observation type has been added named ‘Camera trap’. It can be chosen from the usual list in Observation Details and works exactly the same as observation type ‘Personal observation’.

The status is also shown for an observation in the Bird Overview layout:

Observations in Bird Overview: showing co-observers

The list of observations on the Bird Overview layout now shows for which observations co-observers exist. This is done by:

  • An icon with the total number of observers next to it
  • A tooltip that shows the names of the observers

These appear for all observations of all types that have more than one observer set.

The same applies to observations of type ‘Observation by 3rd-party’. For these observations an icon is also shown (regardless of the number of observers), and the name of the observer(s) can be viewed via the tooltip.

Life histories: adding an image

It is now also possible to save a life history in image format. This can be handy when:

  • The life history is received as an image
  • To create a screenshot of a life history when pasting & copying it as text results in unreadable text
  • To add a screenshot of a map showing locations where the bird has been seen when this is available

Life histories: showing only the text version

My main method of storing life histories is to add it as text to the database. This makes it possible to easily read the text and search on it.

But because the Life History screen shows all formats in which a life history can be stored, working with the text version can sometimes be problematic.

I have therefore added an option named ‘Show Text Version Only’, which when enabled hides all other methods and shows the text version across the full width of the screen.

This option can be set for each bird individually.

Birds: adding references

Ringed birds are typically part of a research project, are usually photographed by various observers and shown on their web sites, and they are (hopefully) reported upon in a science article.

Or perhaps the bird is fitted with some kind of logger and you have access to the files that these devices produce.

Such references provide context and are therefore worthwhile to store.

To make this possible I have added an option to track such references. They are currently divided into the following types:

  • Blog post
  • Book
  • Facebook post
  • Image on Flickr
  • Geo track file
  • Reference on
  • Newspaper (printed)
  • Newspaper (online)
  • PDF
  • Press release
  • Scientific publication
  • Twitter
  • Website – general
  • Other

Content can be stored as the following types:

  • URL
  • Image
  • File
  • PDF
  • Text

The References layout can be accessed from the main menu.

You can also check if References exist for a bird at the bottom of the Bird Overview layout. When they are available, click the link to access the References screen.

Changes and fixes related to the BirdRing import

The following has been changed or fixed:

  • Importing the CSV file: When importing a file, you will see each observation shown on screen while it is being processed. This gives a better indication of the progress of the import, especially when the file contains many birds.
  • Importing the CSV file: When during the import the Cancel button is clicked in the window for browsing to the CSV file, the process is cancelled and the intro screen is now shown. In previous versions, a search for matching birds was performed that were previously imported.
  • Observation details: When a location is set that is stored in the database and the option ‘Use BirdRing Coordinates’ is cleared, the field that appears now correctly shows the coordinates for the stored location.
  • Importing birds and observations: When importing the birds and/or observations, you will see each bird shown on screen while it is being processed. This gives a better indication of the progress of the import, especially when it involves many birds.

Design changes

The following small design changes have been made:

  • The fields for changing the gender, current age and status of a bird can now only be edited in the Bird Overview layout.
  • On the Bird Overview layout, the Observation Status is now shown in the lower left corner of an observation.
  • When upgrading from a previous version, the progress steps are now more clearly shown:

Release Notes – Marked Birds Database – Version 1.16.0

  • MBDB-83 Show how much time has passed between observations.
  • MBDB-699 Observation printout: automatically create a file name to copy to clipboard.
  • MBDB-863 Add ‘Camera trap’ observation type.
  • MBDB-890 Add a method for updating the list of observers for multiple observations.
  • MBDB-930 Upgrading: Add steps for updating Last Seen Date to process.
  • MBDB-933 Add method for tracking external references in which a bird is mentioned.
  • MBDB-939 ‘Update current age’ icon still visible on all layouts other than Bird Overview.
  • MBDB-941 BirdRing import: improve the way of showing the progress during import and adding to database.
  • MBDB-943 Life history: make it possible to add an image.
  • MBDB-946 BirdRing import: coordinates for stored location are imported as empty field.
  • MBDB-947 BirdRing import: record counter for numbers exceeding 3 digits does not fit.
  • MBDB-948 Observation printout: make it possible to create multiple reports in one action.
  • MBDB-950 Batch update Current Age: age is not updated when no ringing information exists while observation is present.
  • MBDB-951 Add option to clear Observation Submitted and Life History Received options.
  • MBDB-952 Add option to copy and paste list of observers for single observations.
  • MBDB-953 Observations: store the day of the week.
  • MBDB-954 Upgrading: Add steps for updating Day of Week to process.
  • MBDB-956 Bird Overview: show icon in observation list when co-observers exist.
  • MBDB-957 Upgrading: Add steps for updating Observer Count and Observer Name List to process.
  • MBDB-958 Life history: add option to only show text version.
  • MBDB-959 BirdRing import: metal ring not found when entered code contains dots but code in database does not.
  • MBDB-961 Bird age: when manually setting Current Bird Age, Bird Age Numeric is cleared.
  • MBDB-962 BirdRing import: when user cancels CSV file import, steps for finding matching birds are performed.
  • MBDB-963 Make options for setting gender, current age and status non-editable on layouts other than Bird Overview.
  • MBDB-964 Bird Overview: date in observation list cut off when operating system is run in French.
  • MBDB-965 Upgrading: show progress status for running upgrade scripts.
  • MBDB-966 Add Reference table to Clear Tables step.

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