Frequently-asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the Kenya Bird Map project

From discussions with Kenya Bird Map atlassers, I have noticed some questions that tend to come up frequently regarding the KBM project and how to participate in it. Many of these pertain to the interaction between the BirdLasser app and the KBM. This article addresses these FAQs and should serve to clarify many aspects of the KBM, especially for those who are new to the project. I will update it periodically with new questions as they emerge.


  1. Do I need an internet connection to record birds with BirdLasser? No you don’t. An internet connection is only needed when you are submitting your records to the KBM. When out recording birds, all you need is for your phone’s location setting to be turned on so that your GPS coordinates can be obtained by the app. The app is designed to work in remote areas with poor internet access. If you notice that the app is having trouble locating you on the map, go to ‘General’ under the app Settings and click on ‘Enable location providers’. This usually sorts the issue out. In some cases, turning on your internet/mobile data can also help to get your location more accurate. Once the app has finally located you however, it will usually be able to function even after you turn off your internet. When you begin a new trip card or list, you may also notice that the map is not showing. In such cases, turn the internet on and let the map load (as it is linked to Google Maps) and then turn off the internet once the map has loaded. Do this any time the map does not show or if you want to increase the map’s clarity when you zoom in to a location.
  2. The pentads are not showing on my map in BirdLasser, what do I do? Make sure that Atlassing mode is turned on. Click on the trip card options (the three dots in the top right corner of the trip card) and click on ‘Turn atlassing/mapping on’. Ideally, atlassing should always be on automatically. To ensure this, go to ‘Settings’, click on ‘Atlassing’ and make sure that ‘Atlassing mode’ is ticked. With this, newly created trip cards will be on atlassing mode by default.
  3. Can I log into the KBM website from the BirdLasser app? No you cannot. You can only access the KBM website from your browser. BirdLasser and the Kenya Bird Map/African Bird Atlas Project are partners but they are not the same thing. They are two separate organizations that are working together for a common cause. This is why having your bird records in the app is not enough. You need to make sure that you submit them so that they get into the Kenya Bird Map database. (The simple process of how to submit records is shown in the BirdLasser Quick Guide Edited for Kenya that you receive in your email when you get registered to the Kenya Bird Map. Feel free to email if you need this guide resent to you).
  4. I am trying to log into the app with my KBM observer number but it is not working. What do I do? When you first download the BirdLasser app, you must click on ‘register’, not ‘log in’. You then register with an email and password of your choice and use those any time you need to log into the app or BirdLasser website. This also applies if you were previously using the now outdated BirdLasser Kenya app and are switching to the updated BirdLasser for the first time. Your KBM observer number has nothing to do with logging into BirdLasser. It only applies when you are logging into the KBM website. Once in the app, you do however need to put your KBM observer number into the ‘Atlassing’ section of the app ‘Settings’ in order to be able to submit records to the KBM. (This is also explained in the BirdLasser Quick Guide).
  5. How do I know if a pentad is unmapped? Go to the KBM website and click on ‘Coverage Map‘. You will see a map of Kenya that shows you which pentads have full protocol cards submitted to them so far (and how many cards for each). You can zoom in to your area of interest and see if it has any records. This map is in Google Maps format, so it is very simple to navigate.
  6. I’m searching for a bird’s name in the app but can’t find it. What do I do? That bird may have a different name depending on the taxonomy and language settings you are using. E.g. the Ring-necked Dove (Streptopelia capicola) is called Cape Turtle Dove under IOC.  For birds to appear as they do on the Kenya checklist, set your taxonomy to ‘Howard and Moore’ and primary language to ‘Engish Kenya’. See this earlier blog post for more details on this issue and a list of alternative names found in the app.
  7. I’m not good at identifying birds but I like to photograph them. Can I just submit photos of birds to the KBM? Yes you can, through the Virtual Museum of Africa. All bird photos submitted to the BirdPix section of the Virtual Museum are identified by experts and linked to the KBM. See this earlier post for more on this. Instructions on how to submit photos to the VM are available on the VM website, under the Help & Documents section.
  8. The BirdLasser Quick Guide you sent me is for Android phones. I have an iPhone. Do you have a guide for that? A guide for the iPhone (iOS) version of BirdLasser is available on the BirdLasser website. Click here to access it. It is generally targeted at Southern African users, hence the words SABAP2 (Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2), but applies to atlassers across Africa. Simply replace SABAP2 with KBM when reading the guide.

I hope these FAQs are helpful. I will keep updating the list as more questions come up.

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– Author: Sidney Shema (Project Manager – Kenya Bird Map) – 

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