Documenting diversity (or lack thereof)

When many of us go birding, part of our goal is to document the diversity of birds around us.  Often, that means keeping a list of birds seen – a life list, a year list, a state list, a yard list.  For instance, thanks to the eBird app, I  know exactly how many species I recorded while atlasing this morning (67 … and another northeastern Connecticut block busted!).  Indeed, the work of the atlas is largely focused around documenting the diversity of the state’s birds and how it is changing – as reflected by the map showing the number of species reported so far in each atlas block in yesterday’s post.

As many have pointed out before, given our focus on avian diversity, it is therefore a sad irony that there is not more diversity in the birding community.  I can’t say much about the diversity of the people working on the atlas, which is an appalling admission in itself, but I do know that I’m struggling to make even a very short list of people who are not white. Last week was #BlackBirdersWeek – a series of events designed to highlight these issues and the barriers to more inclusive engagement with birding. If you missed the discussion, or (like me) are lucky enough to lack the direct experience to truly understand the extent of the problem, a good place to start is this discussion among a host of emerging leaders in the birding community.

As we move forward with the atlas, our work will be centered on the birds. But, hopefully, we will also take the time to listen more, and think about all the things we could be doing to encourage a more diverse birding community.

Block stats update

Today, we finally completed a long overdue update of the breeding statistics and species lists on the block map on the atlas web site. Other work commitments during the spring resulted in a long backlog of submitted data that needed to be reviewed before being added to the atlas database, and it took until this weekend to get through it all.  Continue reading “Block stats update”

So many crows ….

The winter portion of the atlas project is largely focused on compiling lists of species for each block and on using timed one-hour surveys to provide a standardized measure of the number of individuals of each species. We do, however, also have some more specialized protocols to ensure that we capture key aspects of the state’s birdlife that might otherwise be missed.  Sites where large numbers of birds gather to roost are of particular interest, and one of our goals is document such locations (see the protocol here).  In the article, below, Greg Hanisek describes how he recently found a huge crow roost in Waterbury: Continue reading “So many crows ….”