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”

Documenting diversity (or lack thereof)

When many of us go birding, part of our goal is to document the diversity of birds around us.  Often, that means keeping a list of birds seen – a life list, a year list, a state list, a yard list.  For instance, thanks to the eBird app, I  know exactly how many species I recorded while atlasing this morning (67 … and another northeastern Connecticut block busted!).  Indeed, the work of the atlas is largely focused around documenting the diversity of the state’s birds and how it is changing – as reflected by the map showing the number of species reported so far in each atlas block in yesterday’s post.

As many have pointed out before, given our focus on avian diversity, it is therefore a sad irony that there is not more diversity in the birding community.  I can’t say much about the diversity of the people working on the atlas, which is an appalling admission in itself, but I do know that I’m struggling to make even a very short list of people who are not white. Last week was #BlackBirdersWeek – a series of events designed to highlight these issues and the barriers to more inclusive engagement with birding. If you missed the discussion, or (like me) are lucky enough to lack the direct experience to truly understand the extent of the problem, a good place to start is this discussion among a host of emerging leaders in the birding community.

As we move forward with the atlas, our work will be centered on the birds. But, hopefully, we will also take the time to listen more, and think about all the things we could be doing to encourage a more diverse birding community.

Block stats update

Today, we finally completed a long overdue update of the breeding statistics and species lists on the block map on the atlas web site. Other work commitments during the spring resulted in a long backlog of submitted data that needed to be reviewed before being added to the atlas database, and it took until this weekend to get through it all.  Continue reading “Block stats update”

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”

Confirming phoebes

Working as an ornithologist, one of the most common questions I get from the public is about the birds that build nests on people’s homes. When someone describes the nest they’ve found, they frequently say that they are placed on top of a light fixture, on a beam under a deck, or on some other similar structure. These nests usually turn out to belong to eastern phoebes. Continue reading “Confirming phoebes”