July is the month

When we started the atlas, we told everyone that our goal was to have 20 hours of breeding season survey effort in each block. That time could all be spent by one person who “adopts” the block, or it could be from a mix of people. And, we asked that the time be spread evenly across the breeding season, including visits to all habitats, and with at least a little time listening for nocturnal species. Continue reading “July is the month”

Confirming bobolinks (or, what is a fecal sac?)

A couple of days ago, Chris Loscalzo posted a tip to the CTbirds email list based on his and Marianne Vahey’s observation of nesting bobolinks in Norfolk.  Chris pointed out that if you see a bird flying away from a potential nest site with a gleaming white object in its beak, then it is likely to be a fecal sac – and that this confirms breeding (code FS). Continue reading “Confirming bobolinks (or, what is a fecal sac?)”

Confirming orioles

The orioles in my yard are not posing as nicely as when they first returned; no longer coming into the feeder oranges now that there’s plenty of natural food for them eat. And, if it weren’t for their chattering calls and periodic songs, it would be much less obvious that they’re still around – just hidden among the leaves. But, they’re here, and now is a good time to confirm breeding. Continue reading “Confirming orioles”

Confirming robins

During the 1980s breeding atlas, American robins were confirmed as nesters in almost every atlas block. This fact, combined with the knowledge that robins show no signs of decline in Connecticut or in the east as a whole, has led us to treat the species as a rough barometer of how good our survey coverage is.  Our assumption is that, where there are gaps in the robin map, there clearly needs to more survey work done – elsewhere might be lacking too, but not as severely. Continue reading “Confirming robins”

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”

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”