The New York Breeding Bird Atlas is asking for the public’s help

Explorer editor Tracy Ormsbee stands next to Explorer board member and birding enthusiast Larry Master. Photo by Mike Lynch

Birdwatchers are invited to submit their sightings on the eBird site and app

By Megan Pleté Postol

The New York Breeding Bird Atlas invites contributions from Adirondack birders.

The project is currently in the midst of a multi-year project of collecting field data, particularly observations of bird breeding activity. The project coordinators recognize that the Adirondacks are a unique location when it comes to data collection; the remoteness and specific habitat lend themselves to observations that are both more difficult and rarer.

Some of the bird species covered in the study tend to stay away from humans, so people recreating themselves in the rugged wilderness of the Adirondacks may have access to sightings that might not happen. elsewhere, according to the project coordinators.

Matthew Young, president and founder of the Finch Research Network (FiRN), is based in Cortland but travels frequently to the Adirondacks to collect data. He has provided information to the Atlas since its inception. He is interested in what the data from this session will reveal.

“We are documenting from a conservation perspective, how these birds are doing,” he said. “We can compare previous atlases to see what’s going on with the state’s bird populations.”

The current project, which is essentially a census of bird-breeding activities, is the third of its kind for the state. It is conducted every twenty years, the first being from 1980 to 1985 and the second from 2000 to 2005. New York will be the first of the 50 states to complete a third atlas.

Black-throated blue warbler
A black-throated blue warbler. Photo courtesy of Larry Master,

“This is a five-year, statewide project and we can use all the help we can get. The basic instructions are for people to observe breeding birds, such as singing, courtship, nest building and feeding young, and report them to the Atlas using eBird.

— Julie Hart, New York Breeding Bird Atlas III Project Coordinator

Managed by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, eBird is a digital tool for recording bird sightings. Data can be entered online via a web browser or in the eBird mobile app. The New York study has a specific portal for entering data into eBird. If entrants use the Internet to enter data, they should go to: If they are using the eBird mobile app, they must configure the New York Breeding Bird Atlas portal in the app settings.

The biggest change from previous atlases is the use of eBird for data collection, Hart said. eBird offers real-time data input and output, so data collectors will be able to track results throughout the breeding season and for the duration of the project.

How to Get Started in Backyard Birdwatching

“It will be interesting to see how the methods in this atlas align with previous ones,” Young said. “This time it’s more inclusive, everyone can contribute. Contributors do not need to be experts.

Prior to this current study, contributors were primarily expert birders, such as Joan Collins of Adirondack Avian Expeditions & Workshops LLC in Long Lake.

“I was heavily involved in the second Breeding Bird Atlas,” she said. “I atlased remote blocks with no roads or trails. There was a lot of bush camping which I love.

ornithologist Joan Collins participates in the bird atlas
Joan Collins paddles Fishing Brook. Photo by Mike Lynch

This time, the coordinators encourage all interested birders, from novice to specialist, to participate in the New York Breeding Bird Atlas. Every observation counts, they said.

“The more information we can gather, the better our statewide population estimates will be at the end of the project,” Hart said. “The data is used to build detailed distribution maps of the state’s 250 breeding species. The ultimate goal of the project is to conserve New York State’s birds, which, since birds are the best-studied taxa of wildlife in New York, are used for all kinds of conservation and management projects around the state. state for the benefit of all wildlife. and habitats.

While all sightings are helpful, New York’s Breeding Bird Atlas coordinators have a special request for information regarding hard-to-detect nesting species such as barn owls, barred owls, red head and black vultures.

sightings of stinging owls for the bird atlas
Owl sightings are especially welcome. Explorer file photo by Larry Master

Advice on forest-nesting raptors such as northern goshawk, Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned, broad-winged, and red-shouldered hawks, and access to land if found on property private, are particularly appreciated.

Some of these birds can be very secretive or nest in remote areas. Nesting birds should be observed from a distance and not disturbed, especially in cold weather. Goshawks are very territorial and will dive-bomb and sometimes attack people near their nest. Turkey hunters sometimes experience this. If you have any information on any of these birds, Karl Curtis project coordinator Pompey wants to hear from you. He can be contacted by email at [email protected].

“The important thing to emphasize is that spotters don’t have to be expert birders to participate,” Hart said. “Even kids can participate if they have a parent entering the data for them. It’s a great way to get started in wildlife viewing and get involved in community science.

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