New Easy Tool for Bird Photos and Songs

Dang it! I missed the 2010 International Day for Migratory Birds. I had plans to put up my birdhouse with tinsel and little lights too. HALLMARK YOU BETRAYED ME!

Oh well, I can wait until next year, and in the meantime use a recently-announced tool to identify the birds that hang around in the backyard. Dendroica is available at http://www.natureinstruct.org/dendroica. This site does not have the most extensive number of details on each bird, but it’s easy to search and incredibly easy to browse a large number of birds at a time.

When you first visit the site you can choose being a visitor from Canada, the US, or Mexico. once you’ve chosen you’ll get a list of species available (in the US there are 642) and a search box for narrowing them down. Click on a bird in the search box and you’ll see a picture and hear an example of the bird’s song. (Very occasionally there is not a picture available for a bird.) Underneath the picture is a description of the birds’ song and in almost all cases links to hear more versions of the bird’s song and see more pictures. If you can’t think of what bird you want to hear/see there’s also a link to get a random bird from the list.

There’s no data about habitat, or range, or anything like that, but this is an incredibly easy site to browse. If you’re interested in sparrows, search for the word sparrow and you’ll get a list of 33 species through which you can easily browse, comparing pictures and songs. Most other bird sites I’ve used would require a lot of page reloads to go through a list of birds like this. Very nice.

Registration is not required, but if you DO register you’ll have the ability to contribute pictures and songs of your own, as well as take quizzes based on the birds you’re looking at, or create customized lists.

If you need a lot of scientific and habitat data about a particular bird, this site is not for you. But if you want to quickly get a bird song or photograph, or easily browse through lists of birds looking for whatever’s been ransacking your apple tree, this site is terrific! Recommended.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Gets Database

The Georgia O’Keeffe Musuem has announced an online database with over 3,000 images of items from its collection as well as archival materials. This includes lots of drawings and paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe herself. You can access the museum at http://contentdm.okeeffemuseum.org/.

You may either browse the collection or search it by keyword. Browsing involves going through different types of collections — Drawings, Paintings, & Sculpture; Photography; Georgia O’Keeffe General Correspondence; Personal Tangible Property; and William Innes Homer Papers.

The Drawings, Paintings, and Sculptures collection alone has over 900 items in it; I just started there. The listing of items includes a thumbnail of the item, a title (or a description if it was untitled), name of the artist (O’Keeffe, naturally) and the date of creation if available. Click on the thumbnail and get a lot more details including dimensions, medium, etc.


Now let me tell you something so you don’t miss out. The detail page has a small image and a large image. It looks like this is it, and you might think, “Wow, that’s irritating. I can’t view more detail than this?” Look in the upper left corner. You’ll see a magnifying glass and a 12.5% notation. You can magnify the large image another eight times or so and use the smaller image to navigate around the details. Also up in that corner there’s a link to add an item to your “Favorites” or to get a citation URL for the item you’re viewing.

Wanting to explore more, I did a keyword search for the collection; naturally I searched for skull. I got 31 results. Some of these were multiple shots of a patio and the side of a house but there were also several drawings here, photographs, and even a few of those “tangible items.” Actual skulls.

Be sure to view a great image of a skull with a broken pot, and a perhaps unintentionally funny photograph of two ladies gingerly holding a critter skull. The search results look very much like the browse results, with thumbnails, creation date, etc.

Once you’ve explored the collections, be sure to go back and check out the museum’s site itself, which contains an O’Keeffe biography, overviews of her art and the houses in which she lived, and of course information on the museum’s hours, collections, research, and everything else you might expect.

I enjoyed browsing these databases. There was enough here that you could do a lot of exploring (and the zooming ability is terrific!) but not so much that you feel overwhelmed or like you can’t find anything familiar. Recommended.

Image Search Populated in Real Time

Thanks to the Internet Search Engine Database for the pointer to Nachofoto, a Web site that aims to provide relevant results for trending and hot search terms with recent photos and images. It’s in beta at http://nachofoto.com/.

This is an image search engine, but the idea is not to do standard image searches; instead you want to do searches of things that were recently in the news or which are relevant to the news. For example, I did a search for volcano:

The page results bring you back images from everywhere. In one case when I tried it I got a source, but none of the photos loaded; I only saw that glitch a couple of times. I got images from CNN, Reuters, Yahoo News, and some more somewhat local sources. In a couple of cases it’s not clear why I got an image and I had to visit the page for more details, but most of the pictures were just what you thought they would be: the volcano erupting, delayed flights, airport chaos, etc.

There was one big exception, though — when I went to retake the screen shot, I saw that a story titled “10 reasons ‘Iron Man 2’ is hotter than an Icelandic Volcano” had filled the search results with pictures of Robert Downey Jr. While I personally have absolutely no objection to looking at pictures of Robert Downey Jr., it wasn’t really relevant to the search.

In addition to the pictures themselves, Nachofoto also provided suggestions for other search terms I might want to try (usually more specific) along with a slider to determine how recent I wanted my returned photos to be (they could be anywhere from a day old to a year old — in the cases of breaking news it would be great if you could even specify how many hours old something should be.)

In some cases Nachofoto is not going to be useful, as when recently I was looking for good image examples of a 30-degree angle. (Don’t ask.) But for current and breaking news this looks terrific.

Library Of Congress Overhauls Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Oh wow, I was SO glad to see this article in the Library of Congress Blog yesterday. The LOC has an incredible archive of prints and photographs (over 1.25 million!), the but nav for them has always been icko. The blog announced a new version of the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, now available at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/.

This new front page has featured collections on the front as well as a regular list of collections and a search box. I did a search for snowball fight, remembering a sketch from a Civil War drawings collection I’d seen. I didn’t find that (I actually found it doing a search for snowballs), but I did get several pictures of kids having snowball fights and even a comic page from R.F. Outcault. Group records and records that are unfortunately not digitized are clearly marked.

Individual record pages are cleaned up and easier to view. It seems to me like getting larger images is a bit easier. The LOC is also going social media full force, with links for getting RSS feeds and sharing content all over the place.

The LOC has some amazing image collections but I always cringed at visiting the prints and photographs site because it seemed difficult to navigate and search, and the URLs were such that it really was tough to share them. This revamp is excellent, with a good integration of social media. Nice.

The Paint By Numbers Museum

It’s Monday! Last week was Easter and April Fools’ Day, so as you might imagine not much news — real news, anyway — was coming up at the end of the week. And I don’t have an iPad to unbox, so I’ll look back into my queue to see some things I haven’t covered yet… maybe something a little unusual since it’s a Monday. Ah! I have it… the Paint by Numbers Museum at http://paintbynumbermuseum.com/

I wasn’t aware that Paint by Number kits had such a long and specific history. This site steps you through a lot of it. It’s laid out like a museum; when you get to the front page you have the option to go straight to a search engine, to a couple of major exhibits, or to the “Lobby.” The lobby points you toward all the exhibits, the search engine again, and the “Library” (which is a categorized link list.)

I normally go straight to the search but I recommend visiting the exhibits and galleries first — here you can get a history of paint by numbers, a biography of the man who started it all, other notable people in the world of paint by numbers, and galleries of specific artist work.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t expect much. What I remembered of paint by numbers is that they were crude and not very artistic and in short pure cheese. But these were quite good, very artistic. The exhibits have thumbnail images of completed artworks with larger image views for each one, along with a little bit more detail. (Some of the pictures themselves had crazy amounts of detail.) No wonder paint by numbers ended up as an exhibit at the Smithsonian.

If you would rather search than browse, the search engine lets you search by keyword, title, or kit series (there are additional tabs that let you search catalogs and kits.) A blank search nets you over *1200* results so there’s a lot to see here. A search for Paris found sixty results, and a search for dance found over 160. Results have thumbnails and clicking on them takes you to the information page; unfortunately not all the images are equally good (I was confused at getting a black-and-white picture in one of my search results, only to find that was the only image available.

One of the more eye-opening sites I’ve looked at in a while, put together by someone who clearly knows (and loves!) the topic!