Atlas update handout

Recently, 50-60 atlas volunteers gathered at Hammonasset State Park for our second annual volunteer appreciation event.  At the gathering, we discussed data collection so far, as well as plans for the upcoming winter atlas field season.  Beforehand, Min Huang compiled a handout that summarizes much of the data collected so far.  For those who were unable to attend, that handout can be seen here. Continue reading “Atlas update handout”

Block busting independently

Several bird groups have now run block busting trips to help fill gaps in atlas coverage. Block busting does not have to be done in organized groups though. This weekend, for example, Margaret Rubega and I had some time to kill in western Connecticut, so we spent a few hours searching under-surveyed blocks in the Danbury area. We focused on block 76D, but also spent some time in adjacent blocks, adding species in half a dozen blocks. Continue reading “Block busting independently”

Nest boxes

Many recent messages on the CTbirds listserv have mentioned the use of nest boxes, and just this week the chickadees nesting by my backdoor hatched their young. It’s a good time, then, to remember that nest boxes can make it easy to confirm breeding for a variety of species. And, that incidental records of birds in boxes can really help fill gaps for a number of species. Continue reading “Nest boxes”

Cuckoos: declining, but increasing?

In a post on the CTbirds listserv yesterday, Will Schenck described watching a yellow-billed cuckoo at Greenwich Point Park. Cuckoos are species that I long thought of as relatively hard to find in Connecticut. In the past 3-4 years, however, I have been seeing them much more often. In fact, right now, I usually see or hear multiple cuckoos, and often both species, any morning I go birding in deciduous forest or open shrubby habitat. Part of the apparent increase may just be that I’m spending more time birding in those habitats than I used to, especially with all the atlas field work I’ve been doing. But I have assumed that the gypsy moth outbreak of recent years has also played a role and increased the numbers of these caterpillar specialists. Continue reading “Cuckoos: declining, but increasing?”

Tips on confirming breeding

Now that we are well into the breeding season, a major focus of atlas field work should be to try to confirm breeding for as many species as possible.  In terms of the atlas, “confirmation” requires observing nests or behaviors linked to the confirmed breeding codes described on the atlas web page here. Most birds are breeding right now, which means that there are nests everywhere, and birds are exhibiting these behaviors all the time. Nonetheless, observing these things can be hard, especially if you are not used to looking for them. So, here are some tips on how to see the things that let you confirm breeding. Continue reading “Tips on confirming breeding”