Red-bellied woodpecker nest site selection

This week the breeding activity has continued to pick up. Daily, I’ve been watching a song sparrow taking repeated beak-fulls of dead grass into a low, sprawling conifer in my yard, where it is clearly building a nest.  Yesterday, I watched an American crow climbing around in a maple pulling on twigs, trying to break one off, presumably for use as nest material.  And, this morning I watched a male red-bellied woodpecker calling repeatedly from a hole I’ve seen it roosting in at night over the past couple of weeks. At one point a female flew in and inspected the hole, which the male disappeared inside, before the female flew off a few minutes later. Continue reading “Red-bellied woodpecker nest site selection”

Backing up records from “unsafe” dates

A week or so ago, I provided two rules of thumb to reduce confusion over the use of safe dates:

1. If you are unsure whether to submit a record, do so.
2. Always submit any record that confirms breeding (i.e., warrants a 2-letter code).

The second rule has a firm basis in the way we will use the atlas data – anything that is confirmed is a solid record no matter what.  The first rule, however, simply defers the decision of what to include to us during the data management phase of the project.  This is good in that it means we can standardize what gets included and what does not, but we still have to decide when a record is counted as breeding evidence. Continue reading “Backing up records from “unsafe” dates”

Where are sapsuckers now?

A new guest post from Greg Hanisek (lightly edited):

During the 1982-86 Connecticut Breeding Bird Atlas, the nesting range of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was limited essentially to the northern part of Litchfield County (see map below). When I moved to Connecticut in 1992, one had to visit places at or above the latitude of the town of Litchfield to find them during the breeding season. Continue reading “Where are sapsuckers now?”

Which species have been confirmed?

Yesterday, I pointed out that evidence for confirmed breeding by any species should be submitted to the atlas, even if we are not yet within that species’ “safe dates”.  In light of that recommendation, I thought it would be worthwhile to list the species for which we have already received confirmed records.  This list is growing every day – just this weekend I noticed a pair of chickadees excavating a nest hole in a dead tree stump in my backyard (see video here). Continue reading “Which species have been confirmed?”

What are safe dates? Why do they matter?

Safe dates are designed to provide guidance on when it is safe to assume that a species is nesting in an area.  They are necessary because many migratory species will engage in breeding behaviors before reaching their nesting sites.  Consequently, you might see ducks courting or hear warblers singing when they are still hundreds of miles from where they breed.  The atlas project aims to identify which species actually nest within each block, however, so including all these migratory species could be very misleading. Continue reading “What are safe dates? Why do they matter?”