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Help/Frequently asked questions


Topographical terms for birds

Bird Topography
Vector art © W.J.Daunicht
For latin topographical terms click here.
For german topographical terms click here.


What is the meaning of the Avitopia logo?

The logo shows the Earth globe on which the richness of bird species of each point of the Earth is shown using the Avitopia data base. On land the colour code runs from white (few birds) to green (many bird species), in the ocean from white to blue.


What is "taxonomic depth"?

A taxon is a group of living organism according to a hierarchically organized biological system. For practical reasons the name of a group (e.g. "family") is correlated to a rank in the hierarchy. At Avitopia the taxonomic depth indicates down to which rank the system hierarchy will be taken into account.
The taxonomic depth "family" leads to a kind of a systematic overview und is thus suitable for a quick understanding of the diversity of birds.
The taxonomic depth "genus" is interesting, as the latin name of a genus does not exist twice in fauna and flora. Unfortunately, there is often no vernacular name available.
The taxonomic depth "species" is the default choice, in particular as vernacular names have been given in many languages. The latin names always consist of the genus and the species name.
The taxonomic depth "subspecies" is important for experts in and Avitopia prepares to offer this feature, too.


What is the meaning of the symbols indicating the conservation status?

Near threatened
Critically endangered
Extinct in the wild
Data deficient


How do I translate a bird name?

You choose "Extended search", and there the desired Secondary language and the condition "all names, optimal illustration". Generally, the Method of area selection should be "Menu tree" and the area "Planet Earth". Assuming the name at hand is a species, the Taxonomic depth is set to "per species", all other ornithological options should remain as unrestricted as possible. Then you enter the name (or a part of it) into the appropriate language field and click on "Call preview".
The language settings may be changed anytime.


How can I identify a bird that I have seen?

First you try to determine the family the bird belongs to. Usually you succeed pretty fast to reduce the number of suitable families to very few or one. Within a family you ought to compare the images of the species one after the other. However, you must not forget that a species might very well appear in different plumages (male vs. female, seasonal plumages, etc.). This is more fun than burden, anyway, with experience it works faster until you get along without any help.
For comparing you should remember or take notes of as many details as possible that are perceivable to other birds of the same species (from front colour to wing lining). By careful observation you will experience the fascination of birding.


Can I combine any search criteria at Avitopia?

Yes, even across different languages. All criteria will be linked by logigal "AND", only stations are linked by logical "OR to each other".


How can I define a search area crossing the date line?

You can do this under the menu item "Numerical area entry" (activated by "go"). When entering the area definition, you only have to realize, that the longitudes and latitudes refer to the limits of the area. If the "west. longitude" is more positive than the "east. longitude", the area crosses the date line.
Correspondingly the search area may be defined under "Graphical area entry". To this end the first click (SW corner) must be placed east of the second click (NE corner).


How can I define a search area that is cyclically closed such as the tropics?

First, you have to select the menu item "self-defined area" and activate it by "go". Then you enter -180 for west. longitude and 180 for east. longitude. These two special values are recognized by the Avitopia engine as defining a cyclic area.


What means "endemic"?

Endemic always refers to an area that has been defined before. If a taxon, usually a species, is regarded as endemic, this taxon has only been found inside this area. Originally this term has been applied to islands, but today it is also used with reference countries, continents and other unequivocally bordered areas. For the planet earth all living organisms are endemic, except humans, since they have stepped on the moon. However, currently they are extinct there.


Can I search for endemic species in self-defined area?

Yes, but only with the search engine of Avitopia.


How can I get to know the zoological system of birds?

In spite of modern methods to study the DNA of birds, the delimitations of many taxa are still debated; therefore there is no unique standard system. The least debated taxa are the families, of which ca. 200 have been described. They are the best means to get an overview over the diversity of birds. Practically, you select 'families' as taxonomic depth and select your home country as area. There you get aquainted with the typical examples of the families. Subsequently you may change the area and increase the taxonomic depth.


How can I search for bird names the exact spelling of which I don't know?

The search engine searches anyway for parts of names by automatically adding wildcard characters at the beginning and the end. You may insert a wildcard character (%) anywhere in your search string, e.g. "c%erul%e".


Where do I obtain software to open a PDF-file?

Here you may get the Adobe Reader free of charge for desktop, tablet or smartphone.


Where do I obtain software to open an ePub-file?

Here you may get the Calibre Reader free of charge for desktop. Unfortunately, it ignores commands referring to page breaks (status January 2016).
Here you may get the Aldiko Reader free of charge for tablet and smartphone. The display of floating objects is not bug-free (status April 2014).
With this software you can read E-books in PDF format, too.


Can I read the bird guides of AVITOPIA with my Kindle?

Yes, its is possble, AVITOPIA does not impose this restriction. But they have to be converted into some Kindle-Format (e.g. mobi). That can be done using the tools of Calibre or using the Kindle Previewer. E-Books in ePub format are most suitable for conversion, while e-Books in PDF format cause more difficulties.


How can I input special european characters?

It can be difficult to input special characters, e.g. German umlaute using an English keybord. Avitopia offers here a list of special characters to facilitate copying.
In case you want to enter the german characters "ä,ö,ü,ß" while your keyboard - e.g. in tablets - does not contain them, you may enter "a,o,u,ss" instead.


How can I view japanese characters?

You need japanese fonts, which are preinstalled in more recent operating systems (in windows it is "East Asian Language Package" with Chinese, Japanese and Korean), but they must be activated by an administrator. Further, the activation claims several hundred MB memory space.
If you acquire an PDF-File with your search results from Avitopia, you will see japanese characters, even if the fonts are not installed at your computer, because the fonts will be included in the PDF-file by Avitopia.


How can I input japanese characters?

Most important, japanese fonts have to be installed and activated.
Further you need a software that converts entries by a standard keyboard into complex characters. It is preinstalled in more recent operating systems (in windows the program is "Input Method Editor" IME) and usually you can activate it without administrator rights.
If such software is not available, you still have the chance to copy the characters individually into the input field. As most of the japanese bird names consist of katakana, as a service Avitopia provides katakana characters for copying purposes.

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