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January 22, 2018

Makeover Monday: When Do Turkey Vultures Travel the Farthest?

I had never heard of turkey vultures before Eva posted the data for week 4. Since I had no context, I went straight to the article referenced and read through parts of the abstract to understand what the data was about.

Eva posted these maps to makeover:

What works well?

  • Using a map helps show the migration patterns.
  • Using color to indicate the speed by which the birds travel (FYI, they're FAST!!!)
  • Splitting the view between outbound and return migration.

What could be improved?

  • Remove the latitude and longitude axes
  • Remove the region labels
  • Change the red/green colors for the middle two speeds
  • Add a title so we know what the viz is about
  • Make it interactive so that we can see the patterns of individual birds

What I did

  • I focused on the distance the birds traveled. To do this, I exported the data to excel and added a column for distance which was calculated row by row for each bird. This then makes aggregating the distance easier.
  • I created a calculation for distance per bird. This is a better measure than the average distance because the denominator is the number of birds, not the number of measurements.
  • I create a marginal histogram to show the monthly/yearly patterns.
  • I included filters to make it easier for the user to look at a specific bird or birds.
  • I include the map for context and it draw a line for the pattern for each bird, whereas the original was a series of dots.
  • I created a custom mapbox map that only includes the country borders (for decluttering) and has a background color that matches the dashboard color.

With that, here's my Makeover Monday week 4 2018 visualisation.


  1. Great presentation Andy!
    Would you mind if you share your techniques to calculate distance?
    I saw your old post ( about how you calculate the distance between 2 points. However, you went a step further on this by incorporating timestamp.

    I am trying to replicate yours but having a hard time.
    Any tips will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks always for your helpful Tableau tips and amazing visualizations.


    1. I used the formula from my blog post but did it in Excel instead of Tableau.

    2. Thank you Andy! That's what I did as well.
      It seems there is no simple solution to calculate a series of distance of different birds using only Tableau? I will update you if I find a solution to that!