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?”

12 species to confirm in every block

The recent discovery of nesting sedge wrens at the Connecticut Audubon Society’s center in Pomfret, is perhaps the most exciting find of the atlas so far.  But, although we hope to gain a better understanding of where rare species occur in the state, we also want to use the project to better understand the status of common species.  With this in mind, here are a dozen species that it should be possible to confirm in nearly every block. Continue reading “12 species to confirm in every block”

Download the Summer Bird Count circle map

Last week, I wrote about the ways in which people conducting Summer Bird Counts this month can also contribute data to the atlas project.  To provide additional help to determine how blocks relate to count circles, we have produced a downloadable Google Earth (.kml) file, which shows the SBC circles.  If you have Google Earth on your phone and have already downloaded the data layer showing the block boundaries, you can add this layer to see how they overlap. Continue reading “Download the Summer Bird Count circle map”

Summer Bird Counts and the atlas project

Connecticut birding has a long history of citizen science, of which the Connecticut Bird Atlas is only the most recent incarnation. Summer Bird Counts (SBCs) – the mid-year equivalent of Christmas Bird Counts – have been run in the state for nearly three decades and aim to count birds within several 15-mile diameter circles scattered across the state to help track population changes. Continue reading “Summer Bird Counts and the atlas project”

Confirming vultures

One of the goals of the Connecticut Bird Atlas is to document changes in distributions since the first atlas was done in the 1980s. At that time, turkey vultures were widespread, but breeding was concentrated in the western half of the state, away from the coast, and winter concentrations were still noteworthy. Black vultures were considered very rare, with no evidence of breeding recorded during the atlas, although they were starting to be seen more frequently. Both species have increased. Just how much, is something we hope the new atlas will tell us. Continue reading “Confirming vultures”