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”
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”
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 …”
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”
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”
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?”
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.
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”