Where have all the bobwhites gone?

Recent discussion on the  Connecticut Ornithological Associations ctbirds listserve (starting with this post from Tom de Boor) has raised the question of whether northern bobwhites remain in the state.  As Dave Provencher and others have pointed out, the species is widely considered to have been extirpated from Connecticut, and there is no longer a wild breeding population. Nonetheless, birds are still seen (or heard) from time to time, as a result of hunting releases. Continue reading “Where have all the bobwhites gone?”

Yard atlasing

Birders keep lists.  We all know that, even if we don’t do it ourselves.  Some are more compulsive than others. A few months ago, I wrote about the potential for adding atlas data without ever leaving home and I noted that I’d confirmed breeding in a fair number of species just by watching the birds from my office window. At the time, I didn’t know the exact number, but this weekend I made a proper list. Continue reading “Yard atlasing”

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”