November 1st marks the start of the winter survey period for the Connecticut Bird Atlas. From now until the end of February, we are interested in all of your bird observations across the state.
The goals of the winter field work are generally simpler than those for the breeding season as there is no winter equivalent of breeding codes to learn and apply to each species – so, surveying primarily involves recording the species you see and the number of each species. The most basic goal is to generate a list of all species that occur in a block during November and December, and a second list for January and February. Any observations that are clearly within the block boundary during these dates will count.
Ideally, we would like people to conduct 1-hour timed observations, described here, as the standardized nature of these surveys will allow us to do a lot more with the data than is possible with incidental observations (but don’t hesitate to submit the incidental observations, if that’s what you have!).
We also have specialized surveys for both inland and coastal waterbodies – as these sites often exhibit turnover in the occurrence of species and may benefit from frequent/regular, though perhaps brief, visits to document the changes. We’re also interested in documenting sites where large groups of birds congregate to roost, and getting estimates of the numbers of birds that use them. Although each of these activities has a separate protocol, most of the details are similar for all of them – and largely boil down to recording the types and numbers of species seen.
Last winter, I wrote a blog post describing the strategy I planned to take to implement the different protocols in one of the blocks for which I’m responsible. If you are new to the winter atlas methods, or simply want a refresher on how to tackle your block(s), I’d suggest taking a quick read.