Image Service User Guide

In this user guide we explain the ins and outs of using the Bird.i Image Service. We aim to make it as easy as possible for you to search, view, compare and download the latest high-resolution satellite images.



There are various features of the Image Service portal. Images are aggregated from the world’s leading satellite providers, so that what you see in the viewfinder is the most recent and highest quality image available for that location. Our Time Series feature (on the left pane) provides you with historic satellite images of a defined area of interest, taken at specific dates and times.



1. How to login

Once you have created your account you will have full access to Bird.i’s Image Service portal. You can access the portal using the ‘sign in’ button in the top right-hand corner of the homepage ( which will take you directly to the portal login page. You can also access the portal login directly at



2. How to navigate the portal

Once you are logged in to the portal you will see this landing page, from here you have several options:

  • Image Service: Access Bird.i’s Image Service, which gives you access to the most up-to-date satellite and airborne imagery.
  • My Locations: View all of your saved locations and accompanying information.
  • Add Credits: You can easily purchase more credits if you need to.
  • Access your Account details: Selecting your name on the top right will provide a drop down for your account options.




3. Image Service features

3.1 Understanding the base map view
When using the Image Service, the base image (everything outside of the circular viewfinder) that you will see is supplied by Google. The circular viewfinder in the middle of the base map contains the most up to date satellite image of this location available from Bird.i. By clicking anywhere on the map, you will see the latest image available. Each click provides the latest image and uses up a single credit.



3.2 How to search for images
You can easily search for a location on earth using the search bar on the left hand side of the map. You can search for locations in the following formats:

Type an address: e.g. 93 Hope St Glasgow
Input latitude and longitude coordinates: e.g.  -34.9307674851294, 138.62085342407227
Input simple place names: e.g.  Paris, France. The Image viewer will default to the centre of the location

For search inspiration, we have listed some locations with high quality satellite imagery in the Notifications drop down menu, on the left hand side. Here you will find some good examples of up to date satellite images that you can observe are updated by the Bird.i team as we discover them.

3.3 How to use the Viewfinder
To move the Image Service Viewfinder, simply click anywhere inside the circle and drag it to a new location on the map.
To change between the Google base map image and the most recent Bird.i image, use the different markers on the circle.
The date and time at the top of the circle tells you when the up to date satellite image was taken.

3.4 How to operate the zoom level
The zoom level of a satellite image determines how much of the map is visible. A zoom level of 0 (zero) means that you would be able to view the whole world. At the other end of the spectrum, a zoom level of 19 would mean that even the smallest of roads would be visible. In the Bird.i Image Service, when you zoom in and out on the map, the zoom level will be between 16 and 19. This high zoom level lets you analyse even the smallest details of a satellite image.

To zoom in and out of the map click the plus and minus signs in the top right hand corner of the screen.

3.5 Understanding differences in image resolution
Satellite companies provide images with different resolutions, and because we use a variety of different satellite providers, you may come across different resolutions. If you zoom into a satellite image in Bird.i’s Viewfinder and it becomes blurry, this may be due to the number of pixels in the image. Say an image has a definition of 5m, this means that each pixel represents 5 meters of ground. The satellite providers, that we use at Bird.i, take images with resolutions between 30cm and 1.5m, so you may come across images with resolutions anywhere in between these levels.

3.6 How to download an image
To download the image in the viewfinder click the Download Image button on the left hand side. The image will not be downloaded in a circular form, as it’s seen in the viewfinder, it will be downloaded in a rectangular format. Your image will also be downloaded at whatever level you have zoomed in with the viewfinder.

Please note this feature isn’t available in our free trial period, so the button will be blanked out.

3.7 How to set your home location
When accessing the portal for the first time, you will be asked whether you want to set your current location as your home location. Should you accept, clicking the ‘Home Location’ button will take you to a satellite image of this location.

3.8 How can I view a map of the location in the satellite image?
To view location labels on the satellite basemap, you can use the buttons located in the top left of the viewing window within the Image View portal. You can switch between “Map” and “Satellite”, which will change the base map in the background accordingly. You can also select “Labels” under the “Satellite” button, which will apply location labels to the base map.



4. Time Series

Our Time Series feature allows you to search and view historic satellite images of earth. You can access all of the satellite images that are available at any location. For a comprehensive view of how a location looked in the past, compare different satellite images of an area to analyse whether there may have been any changes.

4.1 How to navigate the Time Series
The circular viewfinder in the centre of the screen will display the most up to date image of the location.

How to move the Viewfinder around the map

In order to move to a different location on the basemap, click somewhere on the map, outside of the viewfinder, and drag your mouse to a different point.
To move the viewfinder itself, click anywhere inside the square and drag the mouse to a different point.
Easily search for different locations on earth using the search bar on the left hand side of the map.

You can search for locations in a variety of formats:
Type an address: e.g. 93 Hope St Glasgow
Input latitude and longitude coordinates: e.g.  lat=-34.9307674851294&lng=138.62085342407227
Input simple place names: e.g.  Paris, France.

4.2 White patches on the imagery
When you click on an area of our Time Series map, we provide you with all of the historic satellite images of the selected area that are available.

Many different satellites take images of earth. They do not follow the same orbital patterns, so will not take images from exactly the same point or angle. When we make a satellite map, we combine image strips from different sources together to form a unified image. Usually this is done by amalgamating images taken at different dates to provide a complete image.

Bird.i’s Time Series provides satellite image views of locations on the specific dates you select. If we were to layer images from different dates together in one map then the Time Series core function would be compromised. As our Time Series only provides satellite images at specific dates, because of this you may experience white patches in the Time Series’ Image Viewer, where a satellite image is not available for that specific date.

How to work around this…
Drag the viewfinder away from the edges of these white patches you can gain a more complete satellite image view.



4.3 Understanding the timeline
The timeline, on the left hand side of the map, allows you to scroll back through historic satellite images that have been taken of the location that you are viewing inside the viewfinder. There can be up to 10 images available of this location, going back up to 60 months, which provides you with the ability to analyse any changes that may have occurred over this time period.

How to operate the timeline
To view previous images of the area in the Viewing Square click and drag the marker down the timeline, stopping at the different dates and times.

When you move the square a large distance on the map the image on the timeline will move back to the top, this is because you are moving to an area with a different set of satellite images – In the future we are looking to make it more obvious when you are moving to a new set of images.



5. Planned features

We are in the process of developing some exciting new features to make it even easier for you to gain insights from historic satellite images.

Create different filters for the types of satellite image that you can view, to allow you to see one kind of image. These filters would include the categories: only black and white images and only full colour satellite images.

We aim to make it possible for you to save your filter preferences for future searches.



6. FAQs

Why are there differing image qualities?

We source satellite images from a range of sources, so the images can vary from provider to provider. The weather can also affect an image’s quality, areas with significant cloud cover make it difficult to obtain good quality satellite images. Light angles and shadows can also affect image qualities.

Why does the portal say that there are no images available?

We load new imagery into our Image Service on a daily basis but gathering this data can take some time! You may come across a message saying that we do not have an image available for the area that you have clicked on. If this happens, click the ‘Request Harvest’ button we will get a notification that you are interested in this area and we can then source some imagery for you.


Visit our FAQs page for a full list of frequently asked questions, or alternatively, contact us here or click the live chat button at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.