How to Participate

Thank you for your interest in Kenya Bird Map.

1. How do I get started?

First register as a Kenya Bird Map observer and receive your African Citizen Scientist Observer Number so that you can log in. To register, send an email to or contact the Kenya Bird Map office, Ornithology Section, National Museums of Kenya Headquarters, Nairobi. 

Once you are registered, you will receive starter toolkits to act as guidelines on how to carry out mapping and submit your bird sightings. 

2. How and where should I map birds?

  • Within a five day period, do at least two hours of birding inside the atlas square (called a "pentad") you have selected. If you need to exit and re-enter the pentad you will need to know where the boundaries of the pentad are located. You can see the boundaries easily using the BirdLasser mobile app. If you are not using the app, you should look for visible landmarks on the map which can also be easily done using the Google Maps option on the Kenya Bird Map website or use a GPS for this (a smart phone with a GPS application will also work well). 
  • The miminum requirement of two hours for a full protocol list does have to be done at once. It can be broken up into sections over the 5 days available e.g. 30 minutes on the first day, 20 on the second, an hour on the third, 5 minutes on the fourth and the balance of 5 minutes to make 2 hours on the fifth day.
  • Record all species in the order that you see and/or hear them. 
  • Keep track of the birding hours and indicate the end of each hour to be able to record the hourly totals seen (this happens automatically when using the BirdLasser app). 

If you manage to do two hours on day 1, then for days 2-5:

  • continue adding new species in the order you see/hear them. This could involve visits to parts of the pentad that you were unable to cover on day 1, or recording birds during the night.
  • You can only add species to a pentad list for 5 days. After 5 days (i.e. on day six), you can start a new list for the pentad. 

The process discussed above is called a full protocol. Make sure to indicate this when submitting it to the Kenya Bird Map or uploading it on the website.

If you are not able to cover a pentad for two hours or more, your list of species seen is still extremely valuable for mapping distribution. Go ahead and list the birds seen/heard in the pentad and submit it to the Kenya Bird Map as an ad hoc protocol.

NOTE: The entire process described above can be easily done using the BirdLasser mobile app. Download it for free on the app store of your smartphone (This is called the 'Play Store' on Android phones and the 'App Store' on iPhones). A simple and easy-to-read user manual for the app will be sent to your email once you get registered on the KBM. Feel free to contact the KBM if you need this user manual re-sent to you.

3. How do I submit my records?

The best way is to submit your records using the BirdLasser app. If you do not have the app, you can enter the records directly online - click on 'Add a Card/Field sheet' and complete the online form - see "How to submit data"' for more help. Alternatively you may:

  • complete a hardcopy Field Data Sheet (available at the Kenya Bird Map office) and post it to: Kenya Bird Map, Nature Kenya, P.O. Box 44486-00100, Nairobi.
  • send a scanned copy or photocopy of your birdlist / note book to the Kenya Bird Map email (
  • visit the Kenya Bird Map office (Ornithology Section, National Museums of Kenya, Museum Hill, Nairobi) with your birdlist/notebook and the records will be submitted immediately into your account. 

 Thank you for joining the Kenya Bird Map project - we hope you get many hours of enjoyment out of your birding and contributing to conserving Kenya's birds.


Messages from atlassers:

“Getting involved in mapping has intensified my life-long fascination with birds, making me feel part of an urgent project that can inform effective conservation efforts. Just filing my cards gives me a sense of achievement and spurs me to plan my next mapping trip. I also enjoy the additional discipline of needing to make correct identifications. I hope to seek out other mappers for day-trips to areas which have so far been thinly covered. I would encourage all birders to join this pioneering project and share the positive experience of making a small but significant difference to conservation efforts in Kenya.” Stephen Graham (Observer number 40332).

“I like mapping as a way of showing my participation in birds’ conservation and being among Kenya’s first citizen-scientists. Meeting other birding enthusiasts online helps us know them and share a lot on the KBM. I urge other birders to come out and join the KBM and become citizen-scientists; you will be proud of being seen online all the time,” Joseph Kodonyo(Observer number 40094).

“Bird mapping with KBM has allowed me to gain a lot of field experience in a very short time and increase my knowledge of Kenya's birds immensely. The project is very promising and has a lot of potential for growth. With so much of the country still un-mapped, I am looking forward to covering as many new areas as possible.” Sidney Shema (Observer number 40147).

“Mapping birds triggers my ambition to spot more birds and species and to look more carefully at them. From mapping, I have learnt more species and more behaviour. In future I plan to continue mapping in my home range and whenever I go on safari. I urge those who have not started mapping to start, because only with many contributions can changes be noticed,” Elvira Wolfer (Observer number 40057).

“Mapping is an interesting way of identifying different bird species and getting to understand their distribution and habitat dynamics. While mapping, I have learnt a lot about birds’ distribution and this is necessary in correct bird identification. I plan to continue mapping, especially during my trips around the country when I accompany tourists on safari. It is a fun way of contributing valuable data as a citizen scientist.” Kassim Shitawah (Observer number 12979).

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Page served: 17 Feb 2020
design and systems by Michael Brooks
Animal Demography Unit
University of Cape Town