Recent posts on the ctbirds listserv have highlighted the fact that, although it is still mid-summer, migration is well under way for some species. At the same time, data collection for the breeding portion of the atlas will continue for almost another month. This overlap between migration and breeding reintroduces the need for safe dates to ensure that we are correctly attributing observations to the blocks in which breeding happens. Continue reading “The trouble with fledglings”
Last week was widely noted to be one of the best for spring warbler migration in Connecticut for many years, and lots of birders took advantage of it to boost their year lists and to do big days. I, on the other hand, injured myself on the first morning and ended up laying on my back for most of the week (I did see 18 species of warblers and heard both cuckoos that first day … so some consolation). Yesterday, I was finally able to get back out in the field, but fearing a relapse I decided I shouldn’t push my luck. Continue reading “Slow birding in the swamp”
Most of the atlas breeding codes are pretty self-explanatory, but there are a few that are a bit tricky. As the number of data submissions has increased, there are a few codes that clearly need to be better explained, so I thought I would mention the three that are causing the most problems. Continue reading “Getting breeding codes right”
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”
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?”
Over the past week or two, we have received a number of questions about when people should start recording species for the atlas. Continue reading “Making safe dates simpler”
Several questions about the atlas have recently appeared in my in-box, or on the CTBirds list. Since the same questions are starting to repeat, I plan to use the blog to give some answers over the next few days, so that the information is available for everyone. We are also working on an FAQ page for the web site. Continue reading “What species should you report?”
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?”
Over the past two weeks, people have been reporting American woodcocks displaying at sites throughout the state. So, this weekend, just before dark, I made the 5-minute trek to the nearest overgrown field to my house to see if I could document them in atlas block 40F. Sure enough, shortly after 7 pm, I heard a distant “bzzzt”, followed quickly by another, and another. Over the next 20 minutes I also saw several display flights high up into the sky. Continue reading “Woodcocks galore”
Yesterday, a quick stop at a small pond in Mansfield turned up 2 gadwalls (a male and a female), 5 green-winged teals (3 males, 2 females), and a dozen mallards. The gadwalls were swimming around together, and one of the female teals was sitting close to one of the males. Given this observation, it would be tempting to report both species with breeding code P (pair) to the atlas project. Continue reading “When is a pair of ducks really a pair of ducks?”