Generally, people aren’t that fond of Canada geese; when I’m resighting geese and I’m approached by walkers or birdwatchers they are visibly disappointed that I’m ignoring pochards, teal and grebes in favour of common canadas.
Magpies seem to suffer from a similar image problem (despite research supporting that they are not a factor in the decline of songbird populations) but they’re an important part of the ecosystem and a new project at the University of Exeter is looking into their distribution. This sort of information needs lots of eyes to collect and the team has developed a free app for iPhones and Android phones that allows people to salute any magpies they see by pinging the location to a map.
The information will be used to create a map that allows Rich Inger and the group to ask questions about what contact people have with urban birds, how important urban environments are to birds and how best to manage urban spaces for people and animals.
By downloading the app and sending in your magpie sightings, you’ll be helping to build a record of distribution that may allow us to create more pleasant urban environments for everyone. They can’t do it without you.