Monday, November 22, 2010

Online Field Guide for Missouri

Someone kindly (and anonymously -- who was it?!) helped me get closer to identifying the frogs pictured in a past post. The comment said they were cricket frogs.  I looked it up, and found that it looks probably more likely than anything else I've found. Perhaps they are specifically Blanchard's Cricket Frogs, although I'd feel better about identifying if I had better photos and could listen to their sound again.

In the past I've appreciated the Missouri Department of Conservation's site for help identifying Missouri wildlife, and now I've discovered that they have an Advanced Search function, which they must have added somewhat recently. You can select categories to narrow your search.

To try it out, go to this link.  In the drop-down box that says "Pick One," select the category that best fits your search (Mammal, Butterfly & Moth, etc.).  Once you've done that, other options will appear for that category.

At first glance I was really impressed.  However, after attempting to use it, I'm not sure it actually narrows it down as specifically as it seems like it's going to when you select options.  I couldn't seem to get it to narrow down any more than beyond the first section's categories.  Colors, etc. that I selected didn't seem to make a difference in the results I got.  Maybe it was just me, or maybe they intend to make it more specific later?   I tried it for my frog and it gave me what seemed to be all the frogs and toads.  Granted, that's better than the broader Reptiles and Amphibians category you can access from the main field guide page, but it isn't a lot different than what they had before they switched everything around, I don't think.  I used to be able to look at all the frogs and toads on one page without going through an Advanced Search process.

Whatever the case may be, I can still get helpful information from this site, so I'm happy with it, and I'm glad to have found the Advanced Search whether it's as helpful as it first appears or not.  I do hope they plan to make the search more specific as that could potentially be even nicer.

I have updated my Nature page to reflect this small change.

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