What are safe dates? Why do they matter?

Safe dates are designed to provide guidance on when it is safe to assume that a species is nesting in an area.  They are necessary because many migratory species will engage in breeding behaviors before reaching their nesting sites.  Consequently, you might see ducks courting or hear warblers singing when they are still hundreds of miles from where they breed.  The atlas project aims to identify which species actually nest within each block, however, so including all these migratory species could be very misleading. Continue reading “What are safe dates? Why do they matter?”

Atlas update from the COA annual meeting

This weekend the COA held its annual meeting in Middlesex Community College, and it was great to see so much enthusiasm for the atlas project (to view slides from the talk I gave, click here).  A number of questions came up during the meeting and I will try to address the ones I heard repeatedly on the blog over the next week or two.  But, first, I wanted to pass on a few statistics about where the project stands. Continue reading “Atlas update from the COA annual meeting”

Woodcocks galore

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”

Nesting hawks

One of the great things about living in Connecticut is the wealth of experience in the birding community.  The atlas team is taking advantage of that expertise not only to help us gather data, but also to provide insights to help volunteers become better atlasers.  Here, Connecticut Warbler editor and long-time birder, Greg Hanisek provides tips on finding evidence for breeding hawks in your block: Continue reading “Nesting hawks”

When is a pair of ducks really a pair of ducks?

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?”

Which eBird checklists should you share?

Spring is just around the corner, but as the recent snow has shown us, it’s not quite here yet. Some birds are starting to breed, but most are not. So, how do you know which birds to report to the atlas project? This question is a particular concern for people who are already entering their sightings into eBird and may be unsure when they should share a checklist with the ctbirdatlas account. Continue reading “Which eBird checklists should you share?”