Update Checklist Data with Information from a Web Page for a Given Location

Keeping checklist data (what species and subspecies occur where) up to date is a job that is never done. Quite often, you may find that when planning for a trip, that the current checklist data for a given location seems to be out of date, missing a few species/subspecies or contains a few species/subspecies that do not belong. With the internet and the wealth of information available on it, Birder’s Diary has a feature that allows you to easily update checklist data for a specified location from up-to-date information found on the web. Let’s walk through an example.

Example: Updating your list of species found at Maldives

Let’s say that you are planning a trip to the Maldives and find that the information in Birder’s Diary, when you produce a checklist for Maldives, is incomplete. You search the web using Google (or another other search engine) using the search phrase “Maldives bird checklist“. This quickly produces matches at sites such as birdlist.org and wikipedia.org, as just a couple examples. Here is how you use the information on the web site of your choice to update the data in Birder’s Diary to match it.

Note: before accepting the new import data, you will have a chance to accept or reject any changes that the web page data would suggest.

 The import process will match on common names and/or scientific names from the web page!

Sometimes one or more names from your web source will not match because of differences in common and scientific name of a bird between your web source and the version of the taxonomic list you specify for name matching. In this case, you will need to make manual updates. However, differences in common name punctuation (apostrophes, hyphens, etc) are ignored and generally produce a match anyway; e.g. “Common Leaf-Warbler” will match on “Common Leaf Warbler”. And, if the common name has changed, generally a site that also includes the scientific name of a bird will generate the proper match – as these change less often.

This process is not perfect; as free-form text name matching inherently will incorrectly find matches where it should not. It is considered a great time-saver when the only other choice is to compare information from different sources and manually make individual changes using the Checklist Editor in Birder’s Diary. At the end of the name-matching phase in this process, you will be presented with the list of changes that the comparison of your current Birder’s Diary checklist data against your copied web source proposes to make to the specified location. For example, if your current Birder’s Diary list of birds for Maldives consists of 300 birds – your web source may consist of 320 birds for Maldives. In this list of 320 birds, most will match the current contents of your Birder’s Diary checklist data. But, some of the birds in your Birder’s Diary data will not exist in your web source list; and this process will recommend removing those names from Maldives. In addition, some of the birds in your web source list will not currently exist in your Birder’s Diary data; and this process will recommend adding those names to Maldives. After the name-matching phase, you will be presented with the list of changes that are proposed. Review these changes and either accept or decline additions/deletions as you see fit. An example of the kind of incorrect matching that may occur is: your web file may contain the name “Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher”; but it does not contain the name “Canary Flycatcher”. When processing names in your selected taxonomic list (e.g. Clements v6.6), it will come across the bird “Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher”, search the web import file and find it. Later it will come across “Canary Flycatcher” in the list of Clements names, again it will search the web import file and match on “Gray-headed CanaryFlycatcher“; so it will think that this bird also should be present for Maldives. This is the most common mistake made in the name matching algorithm; incorrect substring matches.

Copy the web page data to a new file

  1. Select the list of bird names by clicking and dragging across the web page starting at the beginning of the list of bird names and finishing at the end.
    Additionally, advanced users know that you can simply select all names by double-clicking on the first name on the page; use the scroll bar to scroll all the way to the bottom of the web page and then Shift+Click on the last letter of the last name. “Shift+Click” tells the selection process to select ALL text between the last selection and your current cursor position.

    :              :                   :                     :                 :                    :                       :
  2. Press Ctrl+C  to copy the selected contents to your Paste buffer. Or alternative, use your browser’s Menu and choose Edit > Copy.
  3. You can (since v3.7.67) skip the remaining three steps and have Birder’s Diary read the data directly from your Copy buffer. You can still perform the following 3 steps and have Birder’s Diary read from a file you create in those steps if you like. Otherwise, stop here and proceed to the next section in this tutorial entitled “Importing the data from your copy buffer or a saved file on your computer”. This is recommended as a time-saving step, unless you have a need to save this data to a file.
    1. Now, open Windows Notepad on your local computer. You can do this any number of ways, but the easiest across most versions of Windows would be to type “notepad” into the Run window. You get to the run window by clicking on the Windows start button and selecting “Run…”. Or, in Vista or Windows 7 by typing “notepad” in the “search programs and files” text field when you click on the start button.
    2. Now that you have Notepad open, click to place the cursor inside the editor section. Now press Ctrl+V to paste the contents from the web page in step 2 above into Notepad. You should see the list of names appear.
      NOTE: The format doesn’t matter. Just as long as the text is copied into NotePad. It doesn’t matter if there is extra text or spaces or punctuation.
    3. Now, save the contents currently in Notepad to a file. Select File | Save from the Notepad main menu. You will get a Save As window. Save it to your Birder’s Diary installation directory (usually C:\Birder’s Diary) and name it something like “Maldives-checklist.txt”.

Importing the data from your copy buffer or a saved file on your computer

  1. Start Birder’s Diary if it is not currently running.
  2. Open the Import window by choosing File | Import/Export…
    The Import/Export window opens.
  3. Select the Checklists TAB.
  4. Fill out the fields as shown below.
    1. You must choose a Taxonomy for which you have purchased a license and which covers the location specified in the Import Location field (e.g. Maldives in this example).
    2. Make sure the “Analyze data before import” is checked so that you can review the proposed changes before they are made.
    3. If the checklist data does not include subspecies information, then check the “Ignore Subspecies” checkbox.
    4. Select the “Overwrite Locations” radio button.
    5. If you saved your data to a file in the previous section, uncheck the “Import data directly from Copy/Paste buffer” and you will be prompted for the file you created when you click the Import button. Otherwise, leave this checkbox checked and the data will be read directly from your Copy/Paste buffer. This is recommended as a time saver.
    6. Enter the Location, in your Birder’s Diary Locations hierarchy, for which you are updating the checklist information as shown above.
      NOTE: If the location does not yet exist, you must use the Locations Maintenance window (F5) to first create the location, then close and reopen this Import window so that it will know about the new location.
  5. Click on the Import button next to the Import Location field as shown above (e.g. the Import button the cursor is over in the screen shot above). An Open File window will appear if you unchecked the “Import directly from Copy/Paste buffer” checkbox, where you can select the file you saved in step 3.3 in the previous section; otherwise, the process will begin immediately and the data will be read directly from your Copy/Paste buffer.
  6. The import and name matching process will start and when complete you will be presented with a message indicating how many valid name matches it made from your import file as compared against the selected taxonomic list.
  7. Click OK and you will be presented with the Import Analysis window.
  8. On this window, you will be able to review and reject any additions/deletions that the import of this file suggests against your current Birder’s Diary data. Once you are satisfied with the suggested changes, click on the Continue Import button. The changes will be made and you will be presented with a summary of records added and removed.

Congratulations, you have quickly and easily updated the list of species to be found at Maldives and your checklist data for that location is now up-to-date!

Now that you are familiar with the process, updating locations in Birder’s Diary can be as quick as a web search; copy/paste; import – done in 2 minutes!