Mapping the Christmas Bird Count

Drew Weber|

I thought I would share just a little of the map prep work I did, last minute, for the Syracuse CBC. Hopefully this will help you out in your last minute planning as well. This is particularly useful when covering a new area or doing a new CBC. You might even discover that there are more areas to cover in your sectors than you knew of!

The first thing I wanted to do was find the center of the count circle. I headed to http://audubon2.org/cbchist/count_table.html to get the details on my count. From there I selected my count circle (Syracuse), and just selected some random years. On this page you can see the coordinates of the center of the circle.

Syracuse CBC info

Next I headed to http://www.freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm to map out the circle.

On this page I entered that latitude and longitude, as well as the radius (7.5 miles). Clicking Draw Radius showed the circle on the map.

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 9.09.16 PM

Then after I click radius, I have the option lower down on the page of creating an image url (like what I show below) or generating a kml file that can be opened in Google Earth or Google Maps. I went ahead and generated the kml for the outline and saved it to my computer.


Next I headed to Google Maps and then clicked on My Maps. I found a map I had already started working on for the CBC and then clicked Edit and Import. From here I uploaded my kml file I had just downloaded.

CBC Map 1

I next edited the Polygon shape you see at the bottom right so that there was just an outline instead of a filled in circle by clicking on it and setting the opacity to 1. You can add other spots and shapes to make the map as useful as possible. Then, on my iPhone, I logged into my Google account in the Google Earth app which allows me to see these maps. I also use the My Maps Editor app for iPhone which allows you to see and edit your custom maps on Google Maps.

Below you can see the result of my couple minutes of work that will aid me on some good birding tomorrow! Share your maps or a screenshot of your count in the comments below. It would be interesting to see what everyone comes up with.

About the Author

Drew Weber


Drew is the founder and editor of Nemesis Bird and now works to curate some of the best content the web has to offer on birding and ornithology from an energetic crew of ornithologists, field researchers, tour leaders and photographers. Drew is originally from PA but now lives in central New York where he is enjoying the long and snowy winters. He has done various bird jobs including bird surveys for the 2nd PA Breeding Bird Atlas, tracked saw-whet owls from dusk to dawn with Scott Weidensaul and counted hawks for several years for Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Drew is an avid lister, especially on smaller scales, and enjoys adding new birds to county, state and life lists. He also enjoys digiscoping and making apps for birders. He is Project Coordinator for the Merlin Project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He is also project manager for the North American Rare Bird Alert.