Cuckoos carrying food

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”

2,174 and counting …

As of this afternoon, 2,174 eBird checklists have been shared with the ctbirdatlas account.  Within those checklists, we have received almost 10,000 individual records with breeding codes attached, representing 152 potential breeding species.  Given that the breeding season is still getting going for many species, this level of effort bodes well for the project’s success and we are very grateful to everyone who has shared their checklists. Continue reading “2,174 and counting …”

Slow birding in the swamp

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”

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”

Why only 20 hours? Can I do more?

For the breeding portion of the atlas we are asking block adopters to commit to 20 hours of time spent looking for breeding birds in their block over the course of the three-year study.  To some, this does not seem like very much time and many have asked whether 20 hours is enough time to adequately survey a block, and whether then can spend more time.

The short answer is that you can spend as much time as you like in your block – we will take (and use) as much data as you send us. Continue reading “Why only 20 hours? Can I do more?”

Atlas training

Over the past few weeks we have run several atlas training sessions throughout the state.  With breeding entering full force, we hope that most people know what is required for the breeding portion of the study.  We do, however, have two remaining sessions, one at the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Center at Fairfield on the 19th May and one at Connecticut Audubon’s Center at Bent of the River in Southbury on 3rd June.  Full details are available on our web site.

If you cannot make these, or just want a refresher from one of the earlier training sessions, here are the slides from the most recent session, which was held in Mansfield.

And of course, you should also feel free to contact us, or your regional coordinator with any questions.  We will also review data as it is submitted, and follow up if we have questions about anything.

 

Red-bellied woodpecker nest site selection

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”

Backing up records from “unsafe” dates

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”

Where are sapsuckers now?

A new guest post from Greg Hanisek (lightly edited):

During the 1982-86 Connecticut Breeding Bird Atlas, the nesting range of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was limited essentially to the northern part of Litchfield County (see map below). When I moved to Connecticut in 1992, one had to visit places at or above the latitude of the town of Litchfield to find them during the breeding season. Continue reading “Where are sapsuckers now?”