The MBO photo library was started in 2004 by banders at MBO to share tips on ageing and sexing local species. However, a broader audience grew quickly, as other birds and banders found these pages to provide a useful visual complement to Peter Pyle’s Identification Guide to North American Birds, and over time the collection expanded to over 60 species.
After a decade of hosting the photo library here on the Migration Research Foundation’s website, we partnered with Environment Canada in 2014 to share our material through the Piranga module of NatureInstruct – a website specifically developed to teach bird identification. While Piranga focuses on ageing and sexing of birds, the Dendroica component is designed to help identify species by sight and sound, and a new module (Avichorus) is in development, to aid with interpretation of multispecies sound files.
Migrating the MBO photo library to Piranga provides users with several advantages. Piranga allows users to select images for side-by-side comparison, and a quiz feature provides an easy opportunity for self-testing. A comments section built directly into the site allows for discussion of particularly challenging photos. Plus, through Piranga we are able to provide larger-resolution photos, which may allow for fine details to be viewed more clearly. Piranga also makes it easy for anyone to add photos – so more than ever, we encourage you to submit your photos for inclusion. Last but not least, species accounts are now available in both English and French.
What has not changed is that MBO banders continue to curate many of the species accounts, selecting the best images available to illustrate each age and sex class for every species, and providing explanatory text. If you find the resource valauble, we encourage you to make a donation to the Migration Research Foundation to support our ongoing work at McGill Bird Observatory, which is what makes our content possible.