The summer of 2018 proved to be a really great start for the atlas, but whenever we present last year’s data we are constantly pointing out that comparisons to the first atlas need to be made with care. In part, we make these cautions because the data are still being reviewed to ensure we’ve made no errors. But, the main reason is simply that the historic data come from five years of field work, not just one. Continue reading “Where have all the parids gone? (Answer: probably nowhere)”
Over the past couple of weeks, ravens have been a regular sight at UConn. Displaying from the roof of the visitor’s center, wheeling over the parking garage, and yesterday I even heard one while sitting in my office. The species has nested in a farm building near the university’s Depot Campus for a couple of years and is seen throughout the area, but this is the first sign that they might nest right on the main campus. Continue reading “Ravens”
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”
Earlier this week, I spent quite a bit of time at Hammonasset State Park. Because I had some time to kill, I went to Hammonasset Point – the area just south of Rock Pond, at the start of the Moraine Trail, which sits in a separate atlas block from the rest of park. My goal was to see what I could find that was nesting right in the tiny piece of land that is in block 120B. Continue reading “Block boundary problems – part 1”
This week, we’ve received a number of questions about the use of breeding codes, so I thought it would be helpful to compile some answers here in one place. (Note that detailed definitions of all codes are posted here.) Continue reading “Drumming, cowbirds, eggshells: what breeding code should you use?”
As we’ve noted before, the CF (carrying food for young) breeding code is problematic for species that regularly carry food for their own consumption. This code is designed specifically for cases where birds are presumed to be carrying food to their dependent young and it can be hard to determine whether that is the case sometimes. Many species can be seen with food in their beaks temporarily. But if they are going to eat it, they usually do so right away. Careful observation for a minute or two will usually ensure that the code is not misused. Continue reading “Cuckoos carrying food”
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”
This week the breeding activity has continued to pick up. Daily, I’ve been watching a song sparrow taking repeated beak-fulls of dead grass into a low, sprawling conifer in my yard, where it is clearly building a nest. Yesterday, I watched an American crow climbing around in a maple pulling on twigs, trying to break one off, presumably for use as nest material. And, this morning I watched a male red-bellied woodpecker calling repeatedly from a hole I’ve seen it roosting in at night over the past couple of weeks. At one point a female flew in and inspected the hole, which the male disappeared inside, before the female flew off a few minutes later. Continue reading “Red-bellied woodpecker nest site selection”
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”