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”
Yesterday, I pointed out that evidence for confirmed breeding by any species should be submitted to the atlas, even if we are not yet within that species’ “safe dates”. In light of that recommendation, I thought it would be worthwhile to list the species for which we have already received confirmed records. This list is growing every day – just this weekend I noticed a pair of chickadees excavating a nest hole in a dead tree stump in my backyard (see video here). Continue reading “Which species have been confirmed?”
Following last weekend’s COA meeting, we received a lot of questions about how to collect atlas data. Answers to most questions can be found on the project web site, but we are also running training sessions around the state over the next couple of months. Continue reading “Atlas training”
A few days ago, Greg Hanisek wrote about his suggestions for finding hawk nests to confirm breeding for the atlas project. Greg was careful to point out the ethical issues involved with nest finding and the importance of not approaching too closely. With that issue in mind, it’s important to note that there are several ways to confirm breeding without getting close to, or even finding, a nest. Continue reading “Hawks with sticks”
Over the past two weeks, people have been reporting American woodcocks displaying at sites throughout the state. So, this weekend, just before dark, I made the 5-minute trek to the nearest overgrown field to my house to see if I could document them in atlas block 40F. Sure enough, shortly after 7 pm, I heard a distant “bzzzt”, followed quickly by another, and another. Over the next 20 minutes I also saw several display flights high up into the sky. Continue reading “Woodcocks galore”
Yesterday, a quick stop at a small pond in Mansfield turned up 2 gadwalls (a male and a female), 5 green-winged teals (3 males, 2 females), and a dozen mallards. The gadwalls were swimming around together, and one of the female teals was sitting close to one of the males. Given this observation, it would be tempting to report both species with breeding code P (pair) to the atlas project. Continue reading “When is a pair of ducks really a pair of ducks?”