Creating and Editing Checklists in J-Bird (Version 0.5.2)



Checklists in J-Bird are used much like you would use checklists in the field. They contain subsets of birds of the World that you expect to see in more specific places. You can build checklists, tick species that have been observed on trips, and include checklists in trip reports and in lists of species that you have seen to indicate what you might have seen but did not.

You are responsible for building the checklists that you want to use with J-Bird. Checklists are not distributed with J-Bird (although a master species list is). Your best bet is to build a checklist that reflects your favorite bird guide (e.g., the National Geographic Society's guide to the birds of North America, the Sibley guide, etc.). When building your first checklist, you'll check-off species from the master list of birds that you loaded into J-Bird. Alternatively, you can import checklists into J-Bird. Imports are covered in the next section. This section describes how to create and manually populate checklists.

Checklists can be organized hierarchically. Your first checklist will be a subset of species in the master species list. The second can be a subset of either the master species list or a subset of your first checklist. For example, your first checklist might be birds of North America, and your second list might be subset of North American birds that are found in the southeastern states. Your third checklist, might be the birds of North Carolina. You might also have a list of the birds of South America that is subset of the master list of birds, and a list of the birds of Argentina that is a subset of South American birds.

Checklists in J-Bird are independent of the regions to which trips are assigned. However, you will probably build checklists that correspond to regions. And, you can assign checklists to regions or to trips to be used as preferred checklists. If you assign a checklist to a trip, that checklist will be suggested to you when you edit the list of species that were seen on the trip. If a trip has not been assigned a checklist and if a checklist has been assigned to the region that is associated with the trip, J-Bird will suggest the region checklist for use when you edit the list of species that were observed on the trip. Preferred checklists are optional. If you make no assignment, J-Bird will suggest the checklist that was used most recently.

If you choose to use preferred checklists, the most flexible strategy is to liberally assign them to regions and conservatively assign them to trips for exceptions to your regional preference. When you change the preferred checklist of a region, the newly assigned checklist will be recommended for all trips in the region except those for which checklists have been set explicitly.

Presently, checklists can be assigned to regions only when regions are created. (That limitation will be lifted in the next version of J-Bird.) Hence, you need to create checklists before creating the regions to which they will be assigned. Sorry for the inconvenience. Checklists can be assigned to trips when they are created or when you edit trip information.

Creating checklists

Hypothetical tree of available checklists Select Browse/Edit Checklists in the task chooser at the upper left side of the J-Bird window. The bottom portion of the window will display a tree that depicts checklists. Initially, there will be only one entry - the master species list, and your first checklist must be a child of it.

To create a checklist, click on the "Create checklist" button. Alternatively, click on the checklist that will be the parent of the new checklist on Linux or Windows (not necessary on Mac OS X). Right-click on parent (all platforms), and select the menu item "Create child of ...". A new window will appear that provide blanks in which you can record information about the new checklist.

Form that describes a checklist

Click the commit button when you have finished filling out the form, and the checklist should appear in the tree of checklists.

Editing checklists

Select "browse/edit checklists" from the task chooser at the upper left corner of the J-Bird window if you have not already done so. To edit the list of species that is included in a checklist, you can double-click on the checklist in the tree or right-click on it and select the entry in the pop-up menu that allows you to edit species that are included in the list. You can edit more than one checklist at a time by selecting multiple checklists (hold down the shift key while clicking on them), right-clicking on any one of the selected checklists and choosing the item in the pop-up menu for editing all selected checklists.

Hypothetical checklist being edited A table of species and checkboxes will appear, or if you have selected a checklist for which the parent is the master list of species, a table of families will appear. You can expand or collapse families by clicking on the wedge/v to the left of family names. The table of species includes the parent checklist, or a composite of parent checklists when more than one checklist is being edited. Click on the check boxes to add or remove species. The database is updated dynamically as you mark and unmark boxes.

You can change information that is displayed in the table by using the View menu. You can toggle between scientific names and common names. You can hide or display family names. If family names are displayed, it is possible to enable and disable the capacity to expand and contract families. Finally, it is possible to change the set of species from which you select species to include in checklists. This allows you to include in a checklist species that are not included in the checklist's parent. The View menu Template entry allows you to select from increasingly more inclusive sets of species, beginning with the parent of the checklist being edited, through parents of the parent checklist, and ending with the master species list. When editing more than one checklist, the parent list that is displayed in the table is a composite of the parents of all checklists being edited. In the Template menu entry, composite parent lists are identified only as "composite checklist".

Table geometry can be manipulated. The window can be resized, and the widths of columns in the table respond to changes in the size of the window.Widths of individual columns can be adjusted by placing the mouse cursor on the divider between the header of a column to be adjusted and the column to its right. The cursor will change, usually to a thick vertical bar. Push down on the mouse button and drag the divider to the left to decrease the width of the column and to the right to increase the width of the column. Release the mouse button to set the width. The order in which columns appear can be changed by dragging around columns with the mouse. Place the mouse cursor in the center of the header of a column that you want to move. Press down on the mouse button, drag the column horizontally to where you want it, and release the mouse button to place the column.

The File menu allows you to save the displayed table into a web document (HTML) file or into a file of comma-separated values (CSV). These functions do not modify the database itself. The database is modified dynamically as you mark/unmark boxes.

The Find menu allows you to activate the species finder, just as it does for ticking species that were observed on trips. Detail on using the finder is available on the finders page.

Editing information about checklists

You can change the name of a checklist, its description and the checklist that serves as its parent by right clicking on the checklist in the tree of checklists and selecting "view/edit list info". A pop-up window will present information for editing. Click in fields to edit them. When you click on the parent checklist, a tree of available checklists will appear.

Checklist examples

Here are some quick instructions for manipulating checklists. To do any of them you must selected "browse/edit checklists" from the task chooser at the upper left-hand corner of the J-Bird window.

A tip

Species names and genera change over time, and it can be challenging to match names on the checklist that you are entering with names in the master species list. Indeed, genera and specific epithets are often less stable over time than are common names, at least for the purpose of building checklists in J-Bird. Good resources for looking up synonyms are

A thought on organizing checklists

Checklists often include all species that have ever been observed in an area. Such expansive checklists hinder ticking because you must visually pick your way through many species that are very unlikely to be seen. As an alternative, you might maintain two checklists for some areas: a checklist of the usual birds of the area and a checklist of accidental species of the area. Ticking will be faster most of the time if you tick from the list of usual suspects. When you encounter accidentals, you can switch to the checklist of accidentals by using the View menu item "Alternative checklist ...". At times when you prefer to tick against both checklists, you can select both the usual-suspect checklist and the accidental checklist as you select the checklist from which you will tick.

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Last updated 15 February 2005