observing and representing migratory patterns

I came across two sites this week that used maps in well-designed ways to visualize migratory patterns.  I have an ongoing interest in finding clever and innovative ways to represent flow and movement.

The first was Geo-Mexico, and I first saw their simple-but-elegantly-effective Flash-based maps to link individual Mexican states to the areas in the US, based on registering with consulates.  Then I remembered helping my colleague Steve to map remittances so I smiled when I saw this nice overview and a lesson to boot! I’ll definitely follow this site more. Hat tip to Seth Dixon’s Geography Education for the find.

Much more mesmerizing are these animated maps of annual bird movements, from my local-but-still-unknown Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.  I’m not a birder myself and have great respect for those who can differentiate more than from amongst crows and starlings (i.e., my skill level). I checked out the patterns of birds whose names suggested they know their home, like the Kentucky Warbler and the Louisiana Waterthrush (what’s up with that little patch in southwestern South Dakota in April/May?  a particularly active citizen-science group or an interesting modeled anomaly?).  I love how the Indigo Bunting aligns with the Mississippi in July and August.  These maps represent the results of models: they don’t reflect actual observations at all of those locations. But they do show the power of visualization when ground truthed, primary data are combined with our large collections of other geospatial information.

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