21 Feb 2018

My wife and I recently visited Rouge National Urban Park. We wanted to spend some time away from TV, internet and Excel. We did…but I discovered some data in the Park!


What and Where is Rouge National Urban Park?

The park borders Markham, Toronto, Pickering and Uxbridge. From their brochure:

It is home to over 1700 species of plants and animals, many of the last farms in the Greater Toronto Area, rare Carolinian forests, Toronto’s only campground, unspoiled beaches and marshes, amazing day hikes, and over 10000 years of human history.


Birds Canada

Can you name this bird?

(Photo: Norm Q. Townsend)

We chatted with several Parks Canada employees and learned about birdscanada.org (Bird Studies Canada). I couldn’t resist asking if they had any free data. They do! Despite my curiosity I didn’t skip the bird watching tour that we had signed up for. It was educational and relaxing. 


Nature Counts

At home I started exploring their website. Nature Counts is part of birdscanada. From their website:

NatureCounts host many datasets, representing several millions of occurence records, with a primary focus on Canadian bird monitoring. Many of those datasets are from project lead by Bird Studies Canada and/or its partners. While we thrive to make our data as openly available as possible, we also need to recognize the need of our partners and funders.

As a node of the Avian Knowledge Network (AKN), NatureCounts uses the following data access levels and sharing options that define how each dataset can be used. Those levels are set individually for each dataset, in consultation with the various partners and data custodian involved.

Nature counts is a partner of the Avian Knowledge Network where you can find more free data!


eBird Canada

Nature Counts had a link to ebird.org/canada/ Watch the video below to see what it’s all about.

eBirds is an amazing initiative that anyone can participate in! I’m very impressed!


The Great Backyard Bird Count

This year’s event just ended. It ran from February 16 to 19. Check out their amazing website especially the ‘Explore Data‘ area.



You can quickly select data and see on-line charts here (birdscanada.org). I also made a couple of download requests from  Nature Counts. They have a lot of large data-sets. For large data-sets we can use Excel’s Power Pivot (Data Model). Learn all about Power Pivot at PowerPivotPro.com. These guys are the Power Pivot experts!


About Me

My name is Kevin Lehrbass. This is me at Rouge National Urban Park. There are so many amazing resources for learning about birds. I didn’t even know “birder” (bird-watcher) was a word.

I’m a Data Analyst at McKinsey & Company. This is my personal blog about Microsoft Excel. I also have a YouTube channel about Excel.

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